Are you facing frustrations? Don’t limit your thinking: Treat these industry headaches as opportunities for innovation. Below are 3 steps for transforming problems into lasting solutions.
Avoidance is probably the most natural reaction to problems. When dealing with a frustrating experience, it’s only logical to make efforts to avoid that situation in the future. But that avoidance approach can be especially problematic when dealing with frustrations in the workplace. Taking steps to sidestep, rather than solve, a problem often leads to a series of workarounds, which are really just temporary fixes that don’t address the problem’s root cause.
This is one of the reasons I’m so fond of the startup space: Problems are the lifeblood of almost any entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial mindset allows you to view a problem through a different lens. Rather than seeing a problem as some negative to overcome — a perspective that can limit your thinking and deplete your energy before you’ve even started — entrepreneurs regard problems as nothing more than solutions yet to be found.
Besides, the simple process of problem-solving can be transformative. It forces you to reimagine the world around you, which has the potential of leading to bigger, bolder ideas. It also allows you to think about your skills and talents differently: How can your particular background and understanding of the problem lead to a solution? What can make your expertise even more useful to the people around you? The truth is, identifying a challenge in your industry represents an opportunity to find a lasting solution through innovation.
Adopting an Entrepreneurial Mindset
The next time you encounter a burdensome problem, don’t avoid it. Consider it a challenge that’s waiting for your attention. If you do decide to take up the call, it’s now just a matter of doing the following to arrive at a fix:
- Remain open to the possibility of solutions.
Business as usual definitely has its advantages. If operations are clipping along smoothly today, chances are good that you can expect the same tomorrow. Then again, tomorrow could be a different story. That’s the problem with the “business-as-usual” approach: It can lead to areas of weakness remaining unexplored. Embracing the status quo too tightly can make it difficult for a leadership team to recognize where and when there might be a need for improvements. Problem-solving takes a backseat, and innovation becomes nothing more than a pipe dream.
Remaining open to the possibility of solutions often starts with awareness. Look at the systems in place, even those that have been chugging along for years. Many will certainly be working well, but it’s a safe bet that others could work better. Of those, tackle one you feel a personal connection with. Maybe it’s merely a frustration, but that frustration could drive you to arrive at a solution that will add value to the business.
Then, attention can turn to the data, which can offer a direction to move forward. While experience and instincts are important, you don’t know what you don’t know, and data can lend you that insight. Getting a true objective grasp of the problem provides another layer of understanding that can help you plan improvements.
- Learn from your failures.
Most people are familiar with the philosophy of “failing fast,” which affords you the unique opportunity to rapidly determine whether an idea has value. If the original idea doesn’t prove to be valuable, what you’ve learned might then lead to a new and even better idea. That’s the position Nyasha Gusta, CEO of Billy, and Grant Robbins, co-founder of Billy, found themselves in with their construction tech startup, Listo. The two felt their business concept — providing contractors with a tool to generate invoices and process payments — had legs. A few early stumbles then led them to shift to insurance, with the intent to solve the complex insurance exchange often encountered when hiring subcontractors. The existing industry process was inefficient and costly, filled with paper exchanges, outdated information, and compliance risks.
Listo, as you probably guessed, didn’t pan out. But it led to a better understanding of what the construction industry needed and eventually took Gusta and Robbins down the path to creating a better product and launching Billy, an insurance and risk management platform for the construction industry.
- Accept that industrywide change takes time.
Change takes time, especially when it comes to industrywide transformation. You might not see progress even after a few months of working on whatever solution you’ve decided upon. Given time, however, you’ll start to notice slight improvements. Use this progress to continue down the path, keeping in mind that industrywide transformation is an ongoing evolution.
How long will it take to see progress? Only time will tell, as the future of any industry is always a question mark, especially in today’s volatile and changing business landscape. That means your work never ends, but this just represents an opportunity to continue exploring new ideas that can bring value to the end user. Consider it a challenge and stay the course.
The best part of taking on an entrepreneurial mindset is that work becomes incredibly rewarding. There’s a greater purpose in the activities you’re tackling, all with the potential of making some measurable changes in the world. Remain open to the possibilities, learn from your mistakes, and be patient.
Written by Rhett Power.
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