Teachers in Business

Problem Solving as a Business Owner

January 26, 2021 Sara Torpey Season 1 Episode 11
Teachers in Business
Problem Solving as a Business Owner
Chapters
Teachers in Business
Problem Solving as a Business Owner
Jan 26, 2021 Season 1 Episode 11
Sara Torpey

One of the superpowers of ALL teachers is problem-solving. In a teaching setting, we solve a million problems a day, as they come up, from one moment to the next. 

We do exactly what we need to figure out what’s happening and how to move forward, and we use the tools and resources at our disposal in the system we work in as supports.

In the business world - especially if you own your own - things feel a little different. There are fewer supports. There aren’t as many resources. But...we still have the same STELLAR problem solving skills.

So how do we transfer them to business effectively?


Show Notes Transcript

One of the superpowers of ALL teachers is problem-solving. In a teaching setting, we solve a million problems a day, as they come up, from one moment to the next. 

We do exactly what we need to figure out what’s happening and how to move forward, and we use the tools and resources at our disposal in the system we work in as supports.

In the business world - especially if you own your own - things feel a little different. There are fewer supports. There aren’t as many resources. But...we still have the same STELLAR problem solving skills.

So how do we transfer them to business effectively?


Hey, and welcome to Episode 11. This week we're going to talk about problem solving. As a business owner, one of the superpowers, I think I know that everyone who has done any teaching of any form has, is problem solving. In a teaching setting, we are problem solving superheroes, we solve a million problems a day, as they come up just from one moment to the next, and you just roll through thing after thing, you solve the problems, you put out the fires, you fix all the things, the same thing happens in parenting, right? Like it just you roll through the day and you take what comes and you solve it as you go. We know exactly what to do, in a teaching setting to figure out what's happening to sort of diagnose the issue, to think about how to move forward, we know who to ask, we know what resources we have at our disposal. And we know how the system works. And then we leave in we joined the business world. And things are a little different. Especially if you own your own business and you're on your own, there are fewer supports at least seemingly right. There are not as many resources just at your fingertips like you had in a school building. But you still have your problem solving skills, and you have stellar problem solving skills. So the question becomes how do I effectively transfer my problem solving skills as a teacher to my business. And I think for me, what I have learned in the course of my business journey, is that it's all about keeping the steps in problem solving front of mind. So there are five steps in solving any problem you want, whether it's in front of you in a classroom, in church in the form of something going on in a classroom with a kid or not, or with a client. And, you know, from there to anything in your business. So the way this starts is by identifying the actual problem. And this is a really important first step, it sounds fairly obvious. But I think, actually, in so many cases, one of the things that we run into where we go wrong is problem solvers, is by doing what in math class with students, I would say you're not answering what the question is asking. Sometimes we go to solve a problem. And it's not our actual problem. It what this makes me think of is a colleague I used to have in my corporate days, he was a product developer is a tech guy. He's a great, great human being. And what would happen is, I would go to him and say, Hey, Jeremy, I need this button on the website to be green. And he'd say, yup, great, cool. I can do that. What's the problem you're trying to solve? And I would go, Well, I just need the button to be green, this customer requested this button be green, and he'd go, cool, cool. totally get it? What's the problem you're trying to solve? And, and I just be like, well, but I need it to be created. You'd be like, right, but no, what's the actual problem you're trying to solve? So often, we get launched down the pathway to the solution, like I'm going to use this tool. And we haven't actually identified what the problem we want to use that tool to solve is something that happens for me and with clients all the time. They'll say, Oh, I bought this tool I'm going to use and I'll say, Okay, what did you buy it to solve? And they just look at me like, I've lost my mind. Like, well, I think I might need it someday. Like, well, what is it solving for you right now? So if you lead with, what is the problem I'm trying to solve right now? What is the actual problem? And it could be, what is my goal? Because that we treat as something to problem solve, in a lot of ways also, like what do I want to solve? What am I trying to tackle here? having that be very, very clear. And knowing what you're trying to solve or what the goal you're trying to attain is, means that as you get as you plan as you meet solutions as you collect data, that you know what you're trying to funnel it too. It helps you to stay on course, right? It's driving on a two lane highway versus a 16 lane road and just weaving all over the place. So once you know the problem, you You can create a plan. That's the second step. But it's not like a literal, like, it's going to go in the following 18 steps, and then it's going to be perfect. It's laying out potential experiments, potential solutions. Just think about a scientist in a lab, right? This is science in some ways, the scientist in the lab identifies a problem they want to solve. And then they think like, okay, here are the tools I have, here are the variables I want to control. Here's the steps, I think that would work here. So I'm gonna try this, here are the actions I want to take to solve my problem. Here are the tools I think I need, here are the changes I want to make to what I'm doing now. And here's how I think I should move forward. But then you get to the third step where you actually do the things. And you know that the plan goes out the window right there, right? Like, you have to roll with what science gives you. So if I'm trying to reach a goal, and I laid out all these actions that I want to take, you know, my goal for this year is to make a certain amount of money. And I have ideas about how I'm going to do that here in January, I don't actually know all the answers, I can't, because seven months from now, the world will be different. If 2022 has nothing else it was that. So I'm gonna lay out my plan. But then I'm not going to clutch it so tightly. We all like to plan, we like to plan for perfect. It's like writing the perfect lesson plan and knowing exactly how it's going to go. And then there's that one kid who never goes right. In a classroom, we sort of accept, like, we make a plan, and we roll with it as it goes, what happens in businesses, we want it to work so bad sometimes that we lose our flexibility with it. So you know the problem, you have a sense of your plan. And it's like a sense of your plan, you can have it, but you can't be like clutching it, like a crumpled piece of paper. And then you try it. You pick up your tools, you try out and do the things that you planned. And as you go, you collect data, you record things, you take some notes, you, you know, think about how people are responding to what you do. You're thinking about roadblocks you run into you, you act on your plan and collect the information that you get as you go. That's it. That's the third step. Third step is to try stuff. The fourth step is to look at the data. We have to use data, once we have it, you know, I had a client the other day say to me, Well, but you know, the way I'm introducing myself to people isn't working. And I said, Okay, how do you know? And she said, Well, it's just not working. And I said, Okay, how do you know? And she said, Well, you know, I don't know, I said, Well, are you introducing yourself to people and having them say like, Oh, I didn't understand that? Or huh. That's a strange job. And she said, No, I'm just not introducing myself to people. So the thing is, is that an absence of data is not data. Right? The whole idea is take the action and see how it goes. There is no replacement for that. It's like the scientist in the lab, making the plan and then being like, yep, I made up the data. And here's what I found, like that scientists wouldn't be a scientist very long. You are a scientist of your business. And collecting the data as you go, lets you excuse me, look at patterns, evaluate results, think about your actions and how you want to change. Because that really is the last step. So you know what the problem you want to solve was, you have a plan, you put that plan into action, you give it a period of time, and you do those actions and you collect data, actually, unless talk for a second about the period of time. It's never a week, right? Like it's not, it's that's not enough time for anything unless you're like growing grass seed, in which case, maybe it's not. So I actually recently have asked a couple of clients to decide on a plan and commit to it for six months, with no changes. Like could you plan what you're going to plan and commit to it to just doing it the way you're doing it for six months, in only changing little increments like shifting variables here and here like the scientist would maybe it needs to be a little warmer, maybe it needs to be a little cooler. Maybe I need to change that word. But the core steps like where and how and who stay the same, so that you can test the small stuff and really get good data. And at the end of six months, we're going to look at the data and say, Okay, what do we know? Now? How do you want to adjust from here? The last step is adjusting? How do you want to go from here based on the data? So yes, state your problem. You make a plan. You try it, because there isn't a replacement for that, like, that's maybe the most important step. Not even maybe you look at the data as you go, but you don't get like super attached to like, how many people liked your post? It's not what it is. They're looking for patterns and generalizations and big ideas, right? And then you get to the end, and you think, like, Okay, what am I going to do now? From there, you get to decide where and the problem solving process, you go back to? Like, did you not have the problem, right? Maybe you're doing something different than what you're solving. Maybe everything's perfect, and you're like, Nope, not gonna change anything, just gonna keep going. Maybe you go back to the planning stage, and you think, like, okay, I almost need to adjust. Or you go back to the training stage and think like, Hmm, maybe I didn't give that the right kind of try, maybe I sort of pulled the punch. But wherever it is, from that last step from your analysis, you get to start back in the cycle continues. All we do all the time is problem solve in so many ways. It's an ongoing cycle. But like, we expect to go into business, have a problem, solve it move on forever. And that's just not a fair expectation, right? We have to continue to evolve and know that we're just forever in the cycle. And that's okay. That's the fun part, almost. So that is problem solving, which you're already good at just in a business context, I'm sure that you recognize those steps from your time and teaching from working with your clients from doing all the things that you do. And as you continue forward, just think about where am I in this process? Like, where am I am? Am I in the what is my problem phase? Am I in the action phase? Or am I in the evaluation phase? Where am I? And have I skipped a step? Maybe? Because sometimes we do that's what human brains do. We skip stuff when it feels uncomfortable? If you are wandering through this, and you're thinking like a way more problems, and no answers at all, please reach out. This is my superpower very much just like it is yours. And as a coach, what I get to do is help people really effectively use their problem solving skills and mine in their businesses. To make the cycle move faster and more effectively. I can help you identify your problems clearly. Choose plans that make sense and sort of use my business knowledge combined with yours to make choices about what you want to experiment with. Because not every experiment is worth your time, right? And you'd like to avoid the things that are just not going to work. I also am super good with data and looking at the patterns and saying like, Hey, did you notice that every time you do X, Y happens, and helping you use those to your advantage. As a business coach, my core belief is that my job is to help you do what you do better, more effectively. It is not to get you to do your thing my way. So if I can be of help to you, as you grow, as you problem solve, please reach out. You can set up a time to talk about coaching, you can go to my website, which is Torpeycoaching.com. You can send an email, it's sara@torpeycoaching.com or you can find me on Facebook or LinkedIn. All of those places work. I would love a chance to understand your business and you and see how I can help you use your problem solving skills to grow because really, teachers should run the world y'all. And if you're not in my facebook group, teachers in business, I would love for you to join us. It's such a good place. And this is all the stuff we talk about all the time. So here's the problem solving to using your superpower as well. And I will see you next week.