Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On the Biggest Problem


Entrepreneurs routinely claim lack of funding is their biggest problem. I’ve also heard business owners echoing it. When considering career paths and choices, I’ve heard my friends say the pay was the problem. Sure, in whatever situation lack of money…capital, funding, or whatever term you use for it, can definitely be an obstacle. Often times it’s also not in your control.

“Just for kicks… if you had the money, what would be the next problem?” I urge my friends. It’s often then that the true problem appears. A friend told me that she needed to look for another job with a higher salary. “Would you stay if you were given a raise?” “Hm… no.” “So, it’s not just the money.” It’s rarely just the money. It turns out that she longed for a work environment where she had access to more mentorship. She went so far as to say that if she had a mentor at a workplace, she would be ok with the current salary.

For some reason, it’s as if identifying money as the problem absolves you from having to dig deeper.

Another way to get to the bottom of your problems beyond money, is to ask why money is the problem. Then repeat the process. By repeatedly asking “why?”, what your next action should be to address the initial problem becomes more obvious. This iterative technique is referred to as “5 Whys”. Originally used at Toyota, it is now part of Kaizen, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, lean startup, and it’s definitely one of my tools in my management kit, not only to analyze system problems but also on personnel issues.

(I picture it being used on a small kid. I’m not sure if it’d work well, though the kid will be getting a leg up on how to problem solve from an early age: “I WANT this!” “Why?” “BECAUSE! I WANT it.” “But why?” “WAHHHHHHH”)

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This entry was posted on February 25, 2015 by in Management and tagged , , , , , , , .
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