Articulate The Problem

Before a strategy can be explored, a clear articulation of the problem has to happen. It can be hard to put your finger on what the problem is. A lot of times, we have a more visceral experience of what is wrong rather than a concrete way to identify the issues at hand.

Getting clarity is becoming increasingly high in value to leaders because the world and its complexity clouds our thinking. We can’t see what is wrong. Part of bringing in experts and outsiders is not necessarily to solve a problem, but identifying the problem and articulating exactly what is wrong.

Feeling a lack of sales or inefficiency in business operations is a larger syndrome. The more acute issues contributing to these shortcomings need to be unveiled. Many times, brainstorming the possibilities and having dialogue can build clarity quickly on what is creating the issues. Other times, stepping away and removing the often faulty nearsightedness of your situation can reveal a new perspective altogether.

I can recount many times where consulting meetings were less about delivering a solution and more about getting at what was wrong. Once a client could articulate the problem for themselves they feel empowered to make the decisions and take action to getting a resolution.

The reality is that we are always confronted with the gap between today’s reality and what we want. Furthermore, demands on our attention sap our energy and focus from what matters. We can get in the weeds quickly on a given day or span of weeks. It can feel like working on a treadmill often times.

Getting clear on what the problem is in any given situation can mean the difference between spending needless amounts of time and money or putting energy into the right areas of focus to get real results.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

3 thoughts on “Articulate The Problem

  1. This is on point! How can I be better in this skill (articulating the problem)?

    1. It is a bit elusive, Ruth. I think it is a skill you develop through listening. I take lots of notes and allow conversations to flow. I also summarize and articulate back what I hear. The client can confirm or correct me. This leads me along the path to clarify.

      When I have the factors, which often come out in spurts over time, I summarize and name the problem in a sentence. That Aha from the client nails what the problem is.

      I can’t say this is something I do methodically. It’s both an instinct and a skill that has been developed over a long period of time and has helped many of my consulting clients walk the journey because we start with understanding, trust and focus. Hope it helps.

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