If you are in a business partnership you will realise just how important that partnership is to the long term success you always dreamed for your business. However, while we may know this, how many of us continue to struggle with our partners towards achieving mutually agreed outcomes.
Before you say “but we always work well together, so what do you mean”, consistently “practicing” the wrong things helps you become very good at doing the wrong things. This is where so many business partnerships go wrong. Yes, the partnership works hard … week after week … but what are they achieving.
What would it be like to devote time specifically to examining the business … the business partnership, or elements of it … what is causing problems, what can be changed to improve the performance of the business, what is each person in the contributing to the stated outcomes of the business, and so on.
Taking time to brainstorm, discuss, revise and plan is “second nature” for successful business partnerships, a regular part of their business life.
If there is a problem or issue, stepping away from the business and talking it through – looking for specific issues, considering alternatives, working out how to implement them, and then beginning to integrate them into your daily business routine – is the first and most positive step you can take.
So, here are six good problem-solving techniques to consider that could lead to more effective engagement between partners, and an inevitable flow on effect to business profitability.
This is the ability to break down a specific “problem” into parts that can be analysed. This allows you to be more clear and objective about specific elements rather than being confronted with a large and more complex issue to solve.
Open-ended questions allow you to discover the real underlying problems … and alternatives … more quickly and positively, and encourages healthy debate about what the problem really is, and ways this can be overcome.
In many partnerships there is a dominant partner, which creates the potential for a “my way is the only way” approach to problem solving.
Allowing all partners to express their own thoughts, feelings and ideas freely and without interruption or criticism will assist in the creative approach to identifying why something is not as it should be, free from the fear of being “put back in your place” as if an idea wasn’t of any merit.
Encourage creativity in problem solving
Sometimes your partner might have an idea that you know, from personal experience, will not work with a particular problem. It is all too easy to stop him/her with a comment like “yep, but it won’t work” before there has been time enough for him/her to explore this fully.
Yes, you know it won’t work, but the positive point is your partner is developing their creativity. The real gain here … two new skills are being learnt – patience and respect (you) and creative problem solving skills (your partner).
Even if the issue at hand isn’t resolved strait away your partnership has grown as a result, which is a win in itself.
At the end of the day you are in a partnership, which means you work together, and “have each other’s back”. One of the quickest ways to destroy trust, communication, respect, teamwork, and so on, is to criticise your partner’s efforts at coming up with a solution that works.
Have a “safe place”
If you want real non-judgemental brainstorming and effective decision-making to occur, you need to have a “safe place” – away from daily business operations – to share ideas towards discovering that which will work versus that which won’t, without criticism and immediate and/or constant correction.
Open discussion is one of the quickest ways to find an answer, and when it is done without fear of adverse comment it becomes even more effective.
Don’t try to find the “perfect” solution
Sometimes we can all get carried away with “perfectionism” – when the desire for greatness is so strong that we are never happy with any solution. Of course you can always find other ways of doing something, and some may be better than what you just decided on.
But, if you delay putting initiating a new idea purely because you are looking for that “extra bit”, you may never get it out there.
At the end of the day, your ability to “problem solve” in your business world revolves around two essential skills – logical thinking and creative thinking.
For some, this may mean more effort is needed, but it also means more thinking is happening, which is good for your business, good for your mental and emotional well-being, and good for your business relationship.