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Monday, December 12, 2011

Fix the Problem, Not the Blame!

I have written about the fact that bad things happen for all kinds of reasons.  In fact, this is a common theme in personal endeavors and startups.  You cannot control everything around you especially your own Stupidity.  It is easy to get help doing dumb things it can be a joint effort.   It is what you do to resolve the situation that can make or break success of your startup.

Just the other day I had some help getting in trouble.   A decision made to relocate some furniture in the house lead to my agreement to do this.  It does not matter that is really was not my decision in the first place nor that I had moved the furniture out of the house a month ago because it was old.  I took on the task and as in any business endeavor; I generated a “Quick Well Thought-out Step Wise Plan.” 

·        First I asked if a neighbor was around to help, but the answer was no 

·        Next, I reviewed the path from the location of the furniture to the new location 

·        I determined if I could lift the item alone 

·        Mapped the shortest path which included taking the item up steps

·        Got help opening the door and clearing the path to the room

·        Then proceeded to lift and move the item myself 

Well this plan had one major flaw and I missed it. I assumed I could lift the item one-step at a time on the way up.  After all, I did lift it one-step at a time on the way down to where it was stored.  I forgot that I used a narrower entryway with fewer steps that had a way I could brace myself as I negotiated the stairs.  You got it! I dropped the table, which broke falling half the length of the stairs; yep, me too.  I fell on the concrete and rolled.  Luckily, I was not hurt too badly; except for my EGO and it may never be the same!

After I recovered, I reviewed the situation.  The Table looked ruined.  I picked up the pieces to move them to the trash.  Immediately, I realized the top was not damaged it had just come off.  The table was now in two pieces and easier to move.  I saw that the top could be re-attached so I moved the items separately and reassembled them in the new location.  The maars and scratches I was able to touch up via some supplies I found at the hardware store. 

I could have gotten angry because I hate to move furniture.  I could have been upset because no one could help move the furniture.  I could have blamed a number of people for different reasons. However, I made the mistake of moving the item alone. 

I could have thrown in the towel and said forget it I am too hurt.  I could have gone out and bought new furniture.  What I did do was assess the real problem related to my approach and got over it.  I then figured a way to get the job done.

Remember the title of an earlier article I wrote.  “Get Over It and Move On!”  This is a real life example.  Remember my discussions on importance of project planning or on using your TEAM. I ignored all of that.   

You will have major problems in your startup.  I dealt with turn-around of small companies for more than 14 years and there are many types of problems.  How the companies get into trouble is a learning exercise, not the final product. The goal has to be fixing the situation and getting back on track to deliver the final product.

I saw a movie a long time ago where one of the actors said, “Fix the Problem, Not the Blame.”  In doing so, the staff does not become afraid and are more likely to become part of the solution; “everyone wins.”  The table story shows that problems happen even when you think you have a plan.  The product was what was intended, the route just became different.  The resolution came by not giving up and recognizing a lucky break; i.e. furniture in the right place. I felt stupid, but no one else needed to make to feel bad because of big mistake.

When you find problems, and you will, “Fix the Problem, Not the Blame.”  

Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon