The Wisdom of Starting Small
When prioritizing and solving problems, most people start with asking themselves which problems are the biggest and what has the most noise (or the squeaky wheel gets the grease theory). The issue is, when we start with the biggest or noisiest problems first, that means that small problems get solved the least.
According to Fast Company, the wisdom of solving small problems is not new but perpetually forgotten as a strategy. The truth is that most large problems began as something small that was left unattended, and while you can’t solve every small issue that comes along, you at least have to acknowledge what it could become.
Identify the risk. The reality is, it is nearly impossible to figure out which small problems will become huge issues. But, evaluating its potential risk is easier than actually resolving the issue most of the time. Keep an eye on those small problems that have a high potential to get out of hand.
Study your failures. If you can see a pattern in which small problems consistently become bigger issues, tackle those in the pattern first. Learn from your mistake, and make sure to course-correct for the next problem you need to solve.
Design processes to expose problems as early as possible. As a small problem grows bigger, it becomes more difficult to not only trace all the negative outcomes but also figure out the initial problem, to begin with. If you can make a problem visible early in the process, or build in time where you can raise a red flag, you’ll stop it before it becomes large.
Engage more people in problem-solving. There is nothing simpler for solving more or bigger problems than just having more people doing the solving. Focus on consistency and depth of problem-solving skills on your team and put them to work on problems they are familiar with the most.
Lean into problem-solving energy at your organization – people feel a sense of accomplishment when they do it and focusing on the small things can save you big problems down the road.