No one likes it, but the reality is that problems help us grow as individuals and businesses. Do you want to grow your business? Do you want to expand into new markets, increase revenue, and improve efficiency? Are you searching for ways to optimize performance and increase innovation? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then it's crucial to realize problems in business lead to progress.
That might sound strange...how can problems be good? For one, problems are the catalysts for change, growth, and innovation. They are a sign that something isn't right. They show us where we need to make changes. For instance, you might want to explore how to grow your business spending. Or you might want to pivot our business strategy in a new direction. Problems push us outside our comfort zone. Further, they challenge our assumptions and force us to find solutions faster than we would like.
What is a Problem in Business?
A problem is any situation that requires attention. Problems might be both internal and external to your company. For example, they can occur because of natural disasters, human error, or technological malfunctions. Your company might have resource allocation, pricing, distribution, or branding problems. A thornier problem is if you discover that you don't have the right team to solve these issues.
A problem can also be a situation where you have too much of something. For instance, you may have too many customers. Yes, that could be a challenge if you grow too fast. You may also have too much inventory or too many orders and no way to process them quickly enough. At its simplest, a problem disrupts your daily operations and business as usual. And usually, with problems, the resources to solve them aren't always clear.
Why are These Challenges So Important?
Problems are the catalysts for change, innovation, and growth. Moreover, they help your company and teams to build their resiliency. Resiliency is one of the most vital skills your team should possess. Meaning that when your team is resilient, it can bend, pivot, and recover quickly. And at a time of enormous change where it's baked into the cake, you need to have a highly resilient team.
Problems help businesses break the status quo and force us to grow outside our comfort zones. And as I mentioned, they also challenge our assumptions. As a result, they push us to experiment and innovate to find the best solutions. Challenges may halt progress, but problems move progress forward. Great business leaders use problems to push their organizations to evolve and innovate. They don't use problems as an excuse to return to the same old approach or ignore necessary pivot points.
Problem-solving is an art, and it takes practice. It also takes teams willing to explore their options and find new ways of operating. As a leader, problem-solving is your responsibility. You set the tone for your team and show them how to approach challenges. When you have a team that knows how to analyze issues, collaborate, and problem-solve, you have a team that’s resilient. The ability to pivot toward change and solve issues as they arise is a valuable skill in any industry. It’s something you can train your team to do.
How Do Problems in Business Create Progress?
Quite simply, problems create progress in your business by forcing change. Leaders and teams need to remember that change is the only way to solve problems. But as we know, it’s sometimes difficult for humans to change. We’re wired to seek comfort and avoid pain. Still, we have the most success when we force ourselves to change when faced with problems.
If leaders continually create challenges (i.e., problems) for their teams to solve, it teaches teams to proactively find the best way to make progress in the business. Therefore, it's critical for leaders to find ways to challenge their teams. Again, doing so creates resiliency, which is vital in modern business.
Problems Push Us to Experiment and Innovate
Leaders and teams should understand that problems act as speed bumps in the road to success. They’re minor roadblocks that force us to experiment. As humans, we tend to get comfortable and complacent when the road looks clear ahead. A clear road forward makes it easier to coast and drive at a slower pace. Problems might slow us down at first, but they force us to move faster and more efficiently once we find solutions.
This idea is something that the world's best companies understand. For example, Meta is a company that many love to hate. And Zuckerberg sometimes doesn’t do himself any favors. However, the company continues to push and accelerate change despite the challenges. Also, Netflix is another company that's experienced challenges. But it, too, is seeking an accelerated path past their problems.
Problems Reveal What Works and What Doesn’t
Problems help you understand what works and what doesn’t in your business. They cause stress and reveal supposed solutions that don’t work. As a result, you should experiment to find what works and what doesn't. For starters, to solve problems in business, you should ask yourself how you’ll know success. In other words, will it be a new product or an operational method, such as revenue operations?
When you have the overarching goal, it’s then time to experiment to find the best solution. However, experimentation isn’t something you can micro-manage. Leaders have to allow their teams the space to fail. They might try one approach, but it might not work. That's okay. You found out what doesn't work. In sum, the best way to solve a problem is to try something new and you’ll never know it unless you know what doesn’t work.
The Pressure to Change and Innovate
Problems create change and innovation, but sometimes it's hard to make those changes happen. Business leaders face the pressure to innovate without the urgency to do so. Investors, customers, and yes, even your team want to see growth and progress. They want to see their investment return and move forward with innovative approaches. They want to see progress towards a return—even if it’s the fact that they’re somehow associated with a cool company. No one wants to see stagnation. So, if you get good at problem-solving, you build resiliency and help propel your company forward.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.