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By Adam Turteltaub
Years ago, before I joined the SCCE and HCCA, I was working at LRN and was charged with creating the company’s first customer meeting.
I had never put on a conference before and had no clue what I was doing. So, I called my cousin’s wife who was a professional meeting planner. I asked her what I needed to know, and I’ll never forget what she said: “Once the meeting starts, when something goes wrong (and it will) it’s not a question of why but a question of what you do about it.”
It seemed like good advice to heed, and it was advice that was quickly needed. The first day of the meeting one of our sales reps came up to me to report that one of our clients was upset about something. I don’t remember what the issue was, but I do remember it wasn’t huge but in retrospect, it was a problem that was probably avoidable. It was one of those things that going in you couldn’t imagine that x might happen, but when it did it seemed sort of inevitable.
I took a breath and said to the sales person, “I can’t go back now and change the decision that led to this but this is what I can do for the client right now. Do you think that will work?” She thought for a second said yes, and the issue was handled.
When things go wrong, especially big things, there’s a tendency to immediately try to figure out who or what is to blame and focus on it endlessly. Solving the immediate problem often gets short shrift.
The root cause analysis needs to be done. The plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again needs to be made and implemented, but right now that’s not helping. First the problem needs to be solved.
Focusing on “what you can do about it” both makes progress on the issue and allows time for tempers to abate, calm to return and a more rational approach to take over, thereby avoiding a heated blame game.
Plus, the simpler act of solving the problem enables you to start feeling in control and decreases the stress that can lead to less-than-rational thinking.
So, the next time something goes awry, stop, think about what you can do to fix it, and fix it. Then, and only then, stop and look back at the reasons why you ended up there. You’ll likely come to a much better solution both for the short and the long term.
[clickToTweet tweet=”What Are You Going to Do About It?” quote=”What Are You Going to Do About It?” theme=”style3″]
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