Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Opportunities Not Problems

Early in my career, problems were a tremendous source of frustration and stress for me. I did everything possible to eliminate problems, but invariably business problems popped up. I would scramble and think: “Why did this happen”? “How did this happen”? “Who caused this to happen”? “What did I do wrong”? So I spent unproductive time stressing over the problem versus solving the problem. Not a good formula for success.

As I matured in my career and advanced in my responsibilities, I realized that business challenges are inevitable. We all work with very sophisticated retailers and manufacturers. There will be speed bumps in the business process. 

I also learned that a great manager helps his team members solve problems and uses that time to teach and train. All of us need a manager who is willing to help us tackle our work challenges. You want that manager to share their experience or perhaps connect you to the right people to solve those challenges. This is how you grow your skills and build a network of people with the knowledge you don’t possess.

I now enjoy problems. It is an opportunity to use my current skills and learn new skills in the process of solving the issue. It can offer me the chance to work with other talented people who are experts in a particular type of work. This increases my resources for more quickly solving future problems.

When I worked at Walmart, problems were called “opportunities.” At first, this just seemed like a cute trend to soften the word “problem or issue.” I now realize it means opportunity. It is an opportunity to learn, grow, build new skills, and leverage the knowledge of other people. The significant number of people working in the Walmart HQ have vast knowledge and experience. I can’t imagine there is a business problem someone in that HQ has not experienced. The challenge is finding that person who can help. I made it a practice to ask a lot of questions and willingly share my experience. You never know when one of your colleagues has the key to solving your opportunity.

So bring us your opportunities. We will brainstorm, whiteboard, and leverage the power of a cross-functional team to solve the challenge.

Rick Salling

Southern Professionals