I know the title is a bit confusing so I’ll do my best to explain because the subject is becoming increasingly important for this MBA. So far the concept has come up in my study group, CV planning, and club planning. To be honest, it’s coming up every day from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep because our precious time is limited.
Knowing what to do first appears to be a key component of strategic planning but I haven’t gotten my head around that concept just yet. What I mean by ‘knowing what to do first; to do something second’ is easier explained if split up.
Knowing what to do first
When facing a huge problem, where does one begin? When I get up in the morning I have the following problems: I smell, my teeth are dirty, my face is scruffy (technical term), and I’m not at school (and need to be). What do I do first? For me, I choose to take a shower, then brush my teeth, shave, (get dressed) and then go to school.
It’s an easy example but I wouldn’t often choose to go to school right after getting up. Now in this example the order of activity isn’t that important except for the trip to school. What if the problem isn’t something we’ve encountered before or the order of activities isn’t obvious such as addressing a case or a class assignment?
So that brings me to ‘knowing what to do second’ …
In most situations, it’s virtually impossible to move to this point without the proper start. Ever try to read a book without having one? Your second step falls apart pretty quickly. Or on a subject closer to home: mass chaos occurs in group meetings or discussions when knowing what to do second isn’t there because it means that we don’t know what to do first. Essentially we have no plan. No way to know if where we begin is the right place so everyone talks. Everyone uses their history to proscribe a solution even before they are sure of the real problem or question.
So where to do we go? We need a process (if even internal) for conquering problems that are difficult, vague or unfamiliar. This process is often extremely difficult for very smart people to accept if they are accustomed to answering questions quickly so they become frustrated and the stress in groups increases.
The way we go about answering questions should be intuitive, make sense and allows us to feel comfortable with moving to the next step. I have some ideas on this and will write them later once I compare my notes with our class on Strategic Problem Solving.
We must find order in chaos (no this isn’t original but I’m too lazy to source it); especially when we’re too damn busy to waste time walking down roads that will never give us a solution.