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Alan Finn Sorts Out Business Tangles

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My lifelong hobby of fly fishing for trout and salmon has also taught me lessons that have proven useful in my business career. One is sorting out business tangles – not so different from tangles in fishing line as one might imagine!

This brief article describes how one might successfully approach and solve what at first sight may appear to be a very complex business problem – a set of intertwined issues that are seemingly knotted together inextricably!

The trick is in staying as loose as possible – sounds easy, but tricky in practice. We need to separate the peripheral “signalling” issues – those that first drew our attention to the problem – from the core issues. Deal with all these peripheral issues one by one – loop by loop – drawing and teasing out each issue until solved, gradually homing in on the central, core problem. Understanding what drives the central, core problem, now in open view, now that the obscuring, obfuscating peripheral issues have been removed and untangled, we may now see wood for trees. It takes patience, dogged determination and a single-minded pursuit of the objective – that all issues have been understood, resolved and recorded, never to reoccur.   

An article (1.) at Consultant’s Mind is quite useful, providing frameworks to help consultants to untangle clients’ problems and it doesn’t try to sell them to you. ChacoCanyon.com provides an interesting process for consultants “to untangle tangled threads” (2.)                                                          

But, of course, complex problems draw in teams, not individuals, to solve them. Lone specialists usually don’t have the broad oversight across multiple disciplines required to simplify and reduce such intertwined issues involving finance, engineering, R&D, process, quality control, human resource issues, sales and marketing, distribution and supply chains. So how may teams carefully unpick these interwoven issues and slowly undo all the knots? Individuals in teams often have their own agendas and may want to stand out from the crowd: to be the one for whom all the tangles fall apart. So picking the team members for undoing complex problems, to avoid ego trippers, can be a complicated task in itself.

Overall, stamina beats methods and patience, teamwork and insightful leadership trump everything else. And It’s much more cost-effective to recapture previous but tangled work than to have to start all over again……  

Ref: “Consultants Mind” – see:

1. https://www.consultantsmind.com/2013/02/14/sipoc-consulting-framework-to-untangle-problems/

2. “ChacoCanyon.com” – see: https://chacocanyon.com/pointlookout/091007.shtml

Alan Finn – 05/07/2019 – alan.finn@finnbiz.com

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