Bill Crawford's Blog

Is It A Problem or Is It A Puzzle?

I was reading about the differences in looking at things that aren't right as either "puzzles" or "problems." I immediately thought that "puzzles" was the right way to go!

You see, I like solving puzzles. For the past couple of years, I have developed a great fondness for crossword puzzles. I enjoy the challenge and believe that they keep my mind sharp. (Some of you that know me well are thinking that I should be doing more of them, but that's another discussion!) Recently, I have added Sudoku to my regime - and have found that this discipline keeps me focused on thinking that there is always a solution - you just have to keep looking and paying attention to the details. (Good life lesson, right?)

By the way, when you are NOT at work, you can get some great puzzles to enjoy from USA Today - Of course, your local newspaper probably has some, too.

Back to the article, it stated that when viewing problems in an organization that treating them like "puzzles" is not helpful. First of all, any problems that you would have in your organiztion - at your store - probably have people - staff, customers or both! - involved in them. That means that they are complex!

A puzzle is a situation that has one answer - and, if you get stuck, an expert can give you the one solution that makes it work.

In the real world, that might be true when balancing your checkbook, but is it ever true when dealing with people?

The only way to solve a problem that is frought with the complexity of human involvement is to realize that there is no "expert" that is going to give you the answer, but that you need to wade into it, assess the situation, engage those involved, and work with them to find the best solution possible. (And, you guessed it, it may not be a perfect solution either.)

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