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Fighting Fires

The eighth edition of the email newsletter Plain Talk About Business Performance focuses on fighting fires in the workplace — solving problems. James Rieley contends that instead of truly solving problems, most managers actually only address the symptoms of said problems.

Dealing with the symptoms of problems is different than coming up with fundamental solutions to those problems. Where we get stuck is that we confuse the symptoms with the actual problems.

What to do?

  • Recognise how managers are spending their time, and be open about the fact that fighting the same fires year on year is not conducive for delivering sustainable performance gains.
  • Take a look at what the problems that are being attacked are; find out if that same problem has occurred before, and if so, how often. Learn how to distinguish the difference between symptoms and underlying problems.
  • Ensure that your fire-fighters have the right skills to put the fires out, and keep them out. Thinking systemically digs deeper and helps identify some of the unintended consequences of the problems, and the solutions.
  • Stop rewarding quick-fix solutions and instead, reward fundamentally sustainable solutions.

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