Monday, 3 March 2014

Why Problem Management is like Watering Plants

I can remember the first place I lived in on my own without roommates. As a housewarming gift a friend dropped off a potted palm tree. They said “it will make your place look better, more lived in.” I shrugged and placed it in a spot where it would get loads of light. In the first few months I took good care of the plant, watering it and providing regular doses of fertilizer, and so on. After a while I found that I was fertilizing less, I was still regularly watering the plant but kept forgetting to fertilize. I wasn’t all that concerned though since the plant looked perfectly healthy anyways. This went on for a few months until I went on a few weeks holidays. During my absence someone came round to check on my place and water the plant but when I came home the plant was looking a bit worse for wear. As a result of my nice holiday the backlog of works had piled up and a seemed to be working twice as much (which is what happens when you take time off, occupational hazard). One of the unfortunate results of this was that the care and attention to my potted plant suffered. At this point the plant was near death. I picked up the stalky stump and headed down the hallway of my apartment building planning to pitch the plant. A neighbour who was a ‘botanist’ of sorts around the apartment complex stopped me and said that if I replanted it in a new pot, fertilized it and watered it again the plant would likely revive. There pretty resilient it turns out. I decided to follow this advice, since I really had nothing to lose, and it turns out that he was right.

So too is your problem management process. Far too often do we "implement" this process but do not take care to fertilize and water. After a while you too will see the process to fall into disrepair. It's never too late to revitalize problem. To put it in a new pot as it was.


You need to decide what you are looking to get out of it in terms of aligning with the business outcomes and start small. Like the plant analogy, while the plant may look dead it won’t turn into a tree again overnight. Making small improvements to allow some initial growth will enable you and your teams to turn this into something substantial over time. Just remember that the process will need nurturing if it is going to ever bear fruit


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