One of the underlying philosophies I use when I work with leaders and teams is “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” It is important to dig into whatever the underlying cause is of the challenge and only “fix” that part that isn’t working, rather than trying to fix everything.

For example, recently one of the organizations I’ve been working with thought they had a problem with distractions. But upon further reflection, they discovered that some of their employees weren’t 100% clear on their job responsibilities. Once they finished their tasks, they didn’t know what to do with the remaining time in the day so they wandered around the office conversing with coworkers and causing lots of distractions.

If we had attacked the distraction problem during training, we would have missed the bigger challenge of unclear job responsibilities.

It’s important to fix the part that is actually broken – not everything!

How can you make sure you are attacking the “real” problem?

1)    Identify where the pain is coming from.
– Are you late?
– Are the employees in your office sniping at each other?
– Do you push off big goals to work on easy, immediate tasks?

2)    Ask yourself, “What’s going on to cause X?”
– Do people ask you questions as you try to leave the office, which causes you to run late?
– Have you built a culture of “I’m the only one who can do this” in your company and all your employees are behaving like martyrs?
– Do you lack the skillset or confidence to attack the big goal, so you get your satisfaction from just crossing things off your to-do list?

3)    Then, ask the same question again. “What is going on to cause X?”

4)    And again.

5)    And again.

Eventually, you will get to the actual root cause of the problem!

Pausing long enough to make sure you are fixing the “real” problem is tough. As humans, we want to go into problem-solving mode immediately. Fixing the wrong problem may feel good in the short term (I mean, hey, you did SOMETHING, right!?) but you won’t get the long term benefits . . . and the same problem will continue to pop up, just looking a little different.

Wondering how you can start to identify the root cause of some of your time management and productivity challenges? We cover this, and more, in the Impact Time Collective starting on January 20th, 2020. Email me at [email protected] and we can figure out if this program is the right fit for you!

Here’s what one of our previous ITC participants had to say about her experience!