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Implementing A Solution Oriented Approach

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.


While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas.



Implementing A Solution Oriented Approach


By P.J. Malone


What would a solution oriented approach look like in your business operations?


We want to take this discussion to the next level because theory is one thing; practical application is another. So let’s look at examples of how you can apply this approach to your business.


Referring to the previous example of the Apollo 13 Space Mission, something had gone terribly wrong with whatever mechanical mechanism was needed for the spacecraft to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere without burning up the spacecraft and killing the astronauts. The faulty mechanics was the problem.


Initially, the engineers kept trying to find a way to fix the problem. The Chief had to keep reminding them of the goal until they finally shifted their thinking. The goal was “bring the astronauts home”.


So instead of trying to find a solution to fixing the problem with the mechanics, the engineers finally started focusing on ways to bring the astronauts home safely, which meant finding a workaround for the problem with the mechanics.


Let’s look at fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s example.


The challenge that Nygard faced was that the United States—actually the world—was going through a recession. Typically, it would mean a negative impact on his business.


Instead of attempting to fix the problem of stopping the recession, or stopping it from impacting his business, Nygard focused on goals he set for his company: his goals were ‘reduce costs and increase profits’.


The shift in mindset is subtle. However, a shift in thinking is absolutely necessary. A solution oriented approach in these examples still achieves the same thing—resolving the challenges that they faced. What is key is not making it all about the problem, but instead, making it all about the solution.


Let’s take another example from a likely common experience of many businesses, especially small businesses:


If a business is facing new competition, then that creates a problem for the business in that their profits or their ability to make money may suffer. The problem in this situation is that new competition may negatively impact your business.


In applying a solution oriented approach to the situation, you have to shift your thinking about the situation. Instead of focusing on the problem, you have to decide on and focus on a goal, which will resolve the situation.


The key thing that you have to consider in deciding a goal is to ‘stop your business from being negatively impacted by the situation’. But know that that isn’t the goal. That is simply a factor that impacts the goal.


Just like the engineers had to realize that the goal wasn’t to ‘stop the problem from impacting the astronauts’ return to earth’. It was a key consideration with the goal, but it wasn’t the goal. The goal was to bring the astronauts home.


Same thing with Nygard. The goal wasn’t to stop the recession from negatively impacting his business. It was a consideration with his goal of reducing costs and increasing profits.


So in our example, the goal can by any one of the following:


  • Maintain the business’ customer base
  • Add new customers to existing customer base
  • Increase business profits


Solutions to all of these goals will resolve the problem of ‘competition negatively impacting your business’. After setting the goal, then you can apply the other steps that we previously listed for practicing a solution oriented approach—like soliciting help to brainstorm strategies to achieve your goal.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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