problem solvingTroubleshooter Vs Problem Solver

Troubleshooter Vs Problem Solver

Arun was a Regional Head for Channel Expansion & Relationship for a white goods manufacturer. This year he received an award for outstanding performance for a record appointment of new channel partners (distributors and retailers) in a region that was considered as a weak territory for the company. The CEO said that this was a recognition of his problem solving skills. 

It all started last year with the company setting an ambitious target to expand its network. In the first 2 quarters, there wasn’t much break through in the channel appointment. Management decided to move Arun from another region to drive this goal. Arun is known as a messiah in the company. Whether it is revenue, market share growth, network expansion, new product penetration, he is known for miraculous improvements. He could turn deserts into oases. His patrons say he’s very systematic and focused. While his critics claim he micromanages things. Nonetheless, as predicted, within the remaining 2 quarters of the FY, Arun swiftly throttled the appointment of dealers and distributors, thereby exceeding the original annual target set, which at the end of 2nd quarter looked un-accomplishable. Management’s aspiration was nothing more than achieving half the annual target set in the beginning of the year, with only 2 quarters in hand. So messiah proved his metal again!

Drop us a line to know more and we’ll get back to you soon.

What did Arun do differently?

Though all this might sound very intrusive, the fact is he got it done!

All is not rosy about Arun. There is one minor problem in our Messiah. Whenever he is done and moves to another role or area, all the old problems crop up again. Arun used to take pride in this, that once he leaves things fall flat. He was sure this is a way to let the management realize his value. 

Was Arun really a good problem solver? Or is he a trouble-shooter?

Trouble-shooter Problem Solver
Always fixing the performance is his/her goalDefines what is really the problem to be solved
Provides short term fixes Identifies the root causes of the problem
Focuses on improvement in outputValidates system level root causes with facts or data
Doesn’t openly share insights & only emphasizes on prognosisShares his/her findings & insights with others
Works in silos & uses his charisma as a leverageEngages the stakeholders on ground to provide eradicate the problem permanently
Usually gives quick fixes as such solutions give results fasterPuts permanent solutions that are sustainable
Cadence is limited to his tenureCreate cadence to sustain the improved state beyond him
Keeps his team in suspense, fear & pressureMakes it a Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS) approach

I will allow you to decide where Arun fits better.

After all, he never examined why this territory had low network penetration? What is the perception of existing and prospective channel partners about the brand? Are existing channel partners profitable and satisfied? Is channel partner attrition a problem? What is it that the competitors are doing differently than us? What is the deficiency of channel management team in this region?

At best, he is a good mercenary.

More importantly, not everyone who gets things done are problem solvers. Simply put, true Problem Solvers leave everything a little better for others than they found it!

If you are looking for Root Cause Analysis Boot Camps in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and across India, contact us.

Root Cause Analysis Boot Camp for Business Leaders 

Let us explain why ‘Root Cause Analysis Boot Camp for Business Leaders’ is needed. Business Leaders are hired to drive change, bring in transformation, incubate new ideas and grow the business and not merely to sustain current levels. So it is important for them to be good at problem solving. That’s given and most business leaders come in with very good troubleshooting skills. They can clear bottlenecks and get things going.

Here are two statements about the nature of the business problems. Let’s say these are my hypotheses:

I’m going to allow you to decide which of these fits in your scheme of things.

Immaterial of that, problems once solved will not recur under 3 conditions:

Unfortunately, we falter at least in one of these steps and that’s not good for the business. Buy why?

Based on my experience in mentoring several business leaders in solving business problems, the most common causes I notice are :

How can leaders hone their business problem solving or root cause analysis skills?

The answer simply lies in learning by doing. Creating multiple opportunities to get their hands dirty with run problems and in doing so, every time improve. This is easier said than done. The most practical way to do this is through RCA Boot Camps.

Root Cause Analysis Boot Camp for Business Leaders covers:

Should you have any questions regarding the RCA Boot Camps, feel free to reach out to us.

If you are looking for Root Cause Analysis Boot Camps in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and across India, contact us

Sales Problem Solver’s Skills

Sales Problem Solver's Skills

We all are problem solvers at our own level. Handling challenges, hurdles, persistent issues and alleviating them is what differentiates a great sales manager from the rest.

Tools and techniques for solving problems are well established for a long time now and there are various methods, techniques and tools that can be used. For example, Lean Six Sigma, TQM, Agile, Scrum, Design Thinking, etc are few such frameworks. Various sectors have seen success with these methodologies. However, when it comes to functional success, business development and sales is a unique function in that, it is highly dependent on external factors. Even many internal factors are not within good control of the sales organization. Thus, there are certain unique challenges that sales managers face when they try to apply such proven problem solving methodologies for sales problems.

More than a structured approach or framework for solving sales problems, the first thing Sales Managers should develop is a Sales Problem Solving Mindset. The skills that support this mindset are described below. Each of these skills can separately add value to every sales manager’s performance. When applied in the form of a structured problem solving framework, it becomes very powerful.

Problem Framing Skills

The first step in solving business problems is knowing exactly what is the problem that has to be solved. This might sound like a no-brainer. But don’t underestimate the power of clarity. If the organization wants to improve its market share in a particular segment, the problem may have to be framed keeping in consideration points such as – Is our market share very low compared to peers, how long has it been this way, what have we done and why have they failed, what is the customer’s perception about us?, etc. After sufficient exploration, we may narrow down and define the problem that we wish to solve as “How can our employees engage with our channel partners effectively?” instead of “How to improve our Market Share?”

Sometimes, we can define the problem and then collect data, but on other occasions, we have to do the reverse.  Thus framing a problem for a given scenario is a skill in itself and Sales Managers need to master this.

To register to our online ‘Sales Managers Problem Solving Skills Course’.

Data Collection Skills

In order to permanently solve any problem, we need to go to the root cause of the problem, and use data or facts to validate really if a particular cause is the reason for the problem. Often, Sales Managers are plagued by reasons that their team members use to justify their poor performance. But these have to be validated with data. Unfortunately, the problem in sales is that required data is not often available. Sales managers should develop necessary skills to understand what data is needed to validate a given problem or cause and how to gather that data. Sometimes surrogate measures will have to be used and sometimes they have to live with surveyed data. Thus the ability to know what data is needed in a given scenario and how to gather that is the second skill needed for Sales Managers wishing to solve business problems.

Quantitative Analytical Skills

Today’s sales enablement systems such as CRM, ERP, etc provide enough data to get started with some basic sales analytics. However sales managers need to upskill themselves in analytics. They need to know how to perform necessary analysis from the data available. While Sales Analysts are well versed in crunching numbers and preparing charts, many Sales Managers are not even comfortable with relevant formulae and charts in Excel. The ability to work with data, using visualization methods to validate association or relationship between various factors, use statistical tools to identify sources of inconsistency in performance & factors driving it, ability to identify known best performers from data, using probability principles to validate demand-supply problems in sales and statistical association/correlation studies to identify causes are all essential analytical skills for sales managers.

Qualitative Discovery Skills

To solve most sales problems, an augmented approach of using both Data and ‘Gemba’ is needed. There are several aspects such as field observation, validation or audit of sales standards across the sales process, partner sales rep skill and will validation, qualitative evaluation of customer objection handling, benchmarking competition best practices, picking up verbal and non-verbal clues, etc., that require strong discovery skills that sales managers need to develop.

Experimentation Validation

The willingness to accept that not everything that we are doing is going click & that too the very first time is the basis for experimentation validation. When solutions are put in place, often sales managers are anxious to see the results right away. In reality, many of our action plans are unique to the circumstances and the mindset to see it as a series of experiments and set logical check points, learn the lessons and move forward to refine the action plan or solution is any skill that sales managers need to acquire too.

If you are looking for Sales Analytics Training and consulting in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and across India, contact us.

Sign-up for collaborat newsletter