Are you really solving the right problem?

I see this every day.

People are dissatisfied with their current job, their current work environment or even the processes they follow. They want a change.

Enter the optimistic enthusiasm to change stuff!

The eager rush to quit their current job and find a new one. The excitement of kicking off and working on a new project!

Wow, what a buzz!

Not long into the future from this amazing set of ideas comes the letdown feeling. The dramatic deflation. The “post purchase dissonance” or ”buyer’s remorse”. Things are not all beer and skittles, and the dissatisfaction still seems to eat away at them.

But why? The drive for change was there….the action was taken….I mean, doing something is better than doing nothing, right?

Only if you do the right something.

Only if you take action to solve the right problem.

You see the thing we all seek is a sense of control. We want to know that what we do matters and that we can shape not only what we achieve but also how we get there.

Just a change of scenery doesn’t guarantee that this will happen!

If you are not happy in your current job, try asking yourself why. Be specific. Are you unhappy with the tasks you are doing? Are you unhappy with the way you are doing things? What level of control do you have? The job you are in seemed an attractive prospect when you moved from the last situation you weren’t happy with! What has changed?

Most likely you have created a set of boundaries in your head that tells you that you can’t be satisfied where you are. Most people, however, don’t put in the effort to try. There are often many things that you can change where you are that would make a big difference. Even just a conversation with people you can rely on for honest feedback can open up ideas for new perspectives or even new activities. Just changing the name on your business cards isn’t going to help by itself. Otherwise I suggest you don’t unpack your bag – you’ll be looking for the next job pretty soon too!

If you are happy where you are and want to change the world from there, it’s often through a program to deliver new and exciting benefits. This is where that “action orientation” you were so keen to show in the interview will probably come back to bite you! To achieve a benefit you really need to have paused for a moment to consider what actually needs to change from what you are doing today in order for that benefit to be realised. Just rushing in and changing stuff often leads to more work, greater confusion and wasted effort. You might be lucky and do something useful, but more often than not you’ll spend more time in status update meetings than enjoying the benefits you wanted to see.

To solve the right problem a moment of pause is more often than not the best first step. Consider why you want to see change and how you define the better future state. From there you can work backwards to today. What things will need to change that really get you to that dream of a better future?

The concept of planning the steps of change before you start seems a rare thing these days. Pull together a project team, get cracking!

Without a plan, though, you can spend a lot of time, money, effort and emotion on solving the wrong problem and still be left wanting a change.

Often things are not as dire as you first think. Understand the better future you are after and work on the small changes needed to get there. The rules of program management work just as well for achieving benefits in your life…as long as you are sure you are solving the right problem!

Posted in

Nathan Jones