Problem solvingProblems are a part of life. Without problems, life would be too predictable to be interesting. Yes, some people have more “interesting” lives than others but many, many problems can be solved by using a few important techniques that get quickly to the root of the problem.

I am talking about “reversible problems” not problems that are permanent. Dropping your watch into the ocean is not reversible.

Problems sometimes seem insolvable at first but maybe they are.

My background is that of an Electrical Engineer. All my growing up years, I built countless electronic projects for my personal fun and enjoyment. Some won science fairs, others garnered the attention of major corporations. But the one thing I had to learn was how to correct my mistakes.

Mistakes are not an emotional condition.

Part of why we have trouble with problems is because we get emotional about them. “Darn, I screwed up again” or “I can’t believe I missed that!” which are reactions we’ve probably all shared from time to time. But babies don’t think that when they fall down trying to walk the first time, “I’ll never get this walking thing right!”. They self-correct and try again. What happened to that natural self-correcting, non-critical perspective we all had as toddlers? Want to learn how to self-correct quickly and easily?

The simple trick I use to fix ANY problem is that I go as far back in time I can to the beginning and start looking. Sounds almost obvious, but it’s not.

Just return to the beginning of the process and walk through it, confirming each element is the way it should be will let you discover where the problem REALLY is. Leave emotions out of this process and it will be easier and take less time.

Simple, I know.

I am known to my friends and family as being able to fix most anything. Lets take an example; A failed marketing campaign.

Lets start with the 1st step to inspect; the assumptions made when creating the campaign.

  1. What were those assumptions based on? Market data?
  2. Did we test other assumptions?
  3. Did we create several approaches and test each?
  4. Lets say we have 3 top approaches.
  5. Did we test 10 different lists, key words, networks or stations for the top 3?
  6. Did we then test subject lines? length of message?
  7. Did we price test?
  8. Did we give the 10 tests all time to perform? How many days?
  9. Did anyone pull the stats and compare them to historics?
  10. Did I set up the system to record and tabulate the test data in advance of the test?
  11. Did the best of all the test offers roll out all at once or in stages?
  12. Did the roll-out data look the same as the test data?

Using this approach, you shouldn’t have failed campaigns because you catch them before they fail. You can go through each assumption at the very beginning and test that too, using previous sales/marketing data and then verify with clients.

But I still failed. Now what?

  • Failure should be iterative.
  • Fail small, fail quickly, try again.
  • No emotions.

Tom Edison was said to have tested thousands of filaments for the first commercially successful lightbulb.

How many tests did you make before you rolled out your campaign?

Next time follow the formula, get a fresh set of eyes to see any out points in your thinking, confirm with your team and test everything. That’s the formula for fixing anything.

And it works.

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