Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

Why Problems Should Be Your Best Friend

Posted by admin on 2/3/14 10:00 PM
Topics: retail management

The following excerpt is from an article written by Jan Bruce and published on Forbes. Bruce writes about the importance of appreciating the problems you face in business in order to overcome them. As a collegiate retailer, you face countless obstacles from students perceptions of your textbook prices to the workload involved in managing textbook inventory. But, all of them have solutions if you're open to them. Take a look at a process you can use to evaluate your problems and move toward resolutions:

Define it. Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world, he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem–and 5 minutes solving it. How you think about, define, and describe the problem is critical to your ability to address it effectively. How much time are you allowing yourself to dream, ponder, visualize, to do some cocktail-napkin sketches and talk to people who share your passion or serve as trusted sounding boards?

Reframe it. Maybe you keep running up against the same obstacle over and over. You think, “I could do this, if only…” This is dangerous thinking. Why? Because it points to external obstacles as the reason you can’t do a thing, and as long as you blame external circumstances, you will not only be limited in your thinking, but more stressed. And you can’t access your best thinking when you’re stressed. In a recent post I talked about how reframing your stress is key to freeing yourself from its chokehold. Same goes for your own creative problem solving. Those limits will often be the catalyst for your best ideas and solutions, because they give you something to push against.

Own it. You won’t ever be willing to take risks if you don’t feel committed to the problem. Are you dodging problems, or are you ready to take one on in a big way? Once you have really done the hard work of defining and comprehending all that’s involved, then it’s yours. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever change or shift–but if you don’t own it to begin with, you’ll never have the momentum to make progress on it.

Pivot. Now here’s the caveat to that last point: You may set out to solve one problem, and come out solving a completely different one. That’s the beauty of it–your best ideas can surprise you. But they can’t if you stay locked onto one idea of How Things Should Be, one way of getting there. You may call it persistence; I call it a waste of energy and time.

What's the biggest problem facing your college store? We offer advanced solutions to some of the industry's most complex issues. Talk with your MBS Representative to see how we can help minimize the problems plaguing your store.

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