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Friday, October 26, 2012

Diversity of ideas can lead to novel solutions of problems or conflict

Looks like stormy weather ahead; better call for help!

Entrepreneurs never have a smooth ride because problems arise all the time.  Complex problems can occasionally have easy solutions and easy problems can have complex solutions.  The problem complexity and degree of creativity contribute significantly to the ease of the solution.  The experience an entrepreneur carried to the startup may not be the same as those experiences by the advisors.  The mix of the ideas from the novice coupled with the contributions from highly experienced advisors often lead to the most creative solutions.

Goals often vary when seeking the best solution to problems.  Great solutions can end with a win-win resolution while in other situations simply eliminating the complex problem by walking away is the answer.  Resolutions are necessary because failure to fix problems can lead to the demise of the business or significant slow-downs in progress of building the business.  Some of the problems can create morale issues with the team and this in turn can lessen their performance.

One of the entrepreneur’s greatest assets is the team, a great network, and experienced advisors.  The combination working either independently or in groups can offer diverse means of addressing resolution of problems.  The wide range of ideas contributed may not solve the problems, but they certainly can help you creatively identify a resolution. Members of your network may be eager and willing to help by pitch-in to work on identifying or negotiating a compromise.  Turning to the network for help is not ones first thought but it is a great way to look at the situation differently and enhance the ability to identify creative solutions.  Sometimes, learning to view bad situations differently is an alternative to seeking resolutions because you learn to adapt and make the situation work for you.

In the book “Imagine” by Jonah Lehrer, Mr. Lehrer reviews practices leading to the high level of creativity at Pixar.  A few of the tactics are: 1) enhancing ways to enhance communication between employees of different backgrounds, 2) allowing ideas to be challenged but including advancement of the idea, and 3) breaking the anchoring that takes place with status quo.  In several examples throughout the book, he describes the value of encouraging increased idea flow and value of challenging the status quo.  Clearly, the described tactics worked for Pixar because they generate superior films and demonstrate a high level of creativity.

Entrepreneurs must learn to see alternatives and integrate a broadened of ideas to find creative solutions.  They may also need to learn how to view a conflict from the other point of view.  This sometimes is the only way to find a winning solution that works for both parties.

You may have heard someone threaten litigation as a means of addressing a problem.  People often forget the complexity and costs involved in being locked in battle and this should always be a last resort.  It is easy for situations to get out of hand and lack of control on both sides leads to horrid situations.   Running away or shutting down has downsides as well. Seeking resolutions that work for two parties in conflict is usually best and costs less in the end.  The conflicts can cause morale issues, lack of focus on core business, and increased expense.

Resolution of major problems and conflicts is something that every entrepreneur needs to learn.  Skills will improve over time, but you are not likely to have the same problems repeatedly.  This is why learning to use a mix of methods to solve them will help as new issues come up.  In short, when faced with problems or adversity: 1) seek help from your network, 2) view the situation from different perspectives, 3) confront and attempt to resolve the situations through negotiation, and 4) fight or flee.  Most adverse situations have a resolution and a bright side.  All you have to do is find it! 

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