Remove the Thumbtack

If you find yourself sitting on a thumbtack, don't take an aspirin to numb the pain, remove the thumbtack.  This is an accurate analogy for how we many times attack problem solving.  We focus on treating the symptoms rather than finding the root.   I have learned from experience that when it comes to innovation or continuous improvement, throwing money at symptoms can be a very expensive endeavor that will leave you with the same recurring problem.  Here are a few thoughts on how to remove the thumbtack:

1) Make time to take a step out of the weeds.  The day to day weeds are full of symptoms.  If you don't allow yourself to step out of the weeds it will hard to see the forest from the trees, or the root from the symptoms. 

2) Rapidly conduct small tests, testing each hypothesis.  Iterating quickly and inexpensively is the best way to find the root. 

3) Sort it out on a whiteboard with multiple perspectives.  The more solution oriented minds that you can get on a problem solving session the better.

4) Learn from other industries.  Regardless of what you are trying to do, there is a good chance someone else has done something similar. 

Taking the road less traveled and blazing new trails isn't easy.  As you strive to innovate and improve, I hope you will find the best way to remove the thumbtack rather than just numb the pain.   

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