Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Biashara coach: 40 problem solving questions to ask

By Virginia Mburu

Problems, challenges….

This famous King in the old Testament found or attracted problems/challenges like a fly to light. Every so often, he was in the thick of  one challenge or other.

We are introduced to David as the youngest son of Jesse whose job title is “tending sheep” (Samuel 16: 11). We get a glimpse into his appearance when he unceremoniously walks into his own Kingship anointing ceremony straight from tending the sheep.

Prophet Samuel had been sent to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next King because God had rejected Saul- Israel’s first King. We get a glimpse into his appearance in verse 12 where we are told he was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
We also get to learn he is a good musician when he is recruited to entertain King Saul’s by playing the harp when he fell into a foul mood.

We next see him walking into trouble having been sent by his father to take some supplies to his brothers who are in the battlefield. The Israelites led by with King Saul were pitted against the mighty Philistines. 
The outcome of this battle was to be decided by the result of a fight between a representative from each side. If the representative is killed, the side he belongs to becomes subject to the other. 
The Philistines had this giant who was about 3 meters tall called Goliath and who could comfortably wear and carry over 80 kilos of armory. The Israelites were being taunted to offer a challenger who had not been forthcoming for the last forty days. 
In 1 Samuel 17:11, we are told that on hearing the challenge from Goliath “…..Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified”.  David comes into the picture at this juncture. Goliath;  as he has been doing for forty days challenges Israel to produce a fighter, David hears the challenge  and observes that when  Israelites saw the man, they all run away from him in great fear (verse 24).  

A gigantic problem….  A big Challenge……

Enter  David…… with a different perspective and a question… Yes a question. Which brings us to our topic of discussion- What kind of questions do you ask when you face problems/challenges?  What questions should we be asking anyway?

Step 1.....Problem identification

1. Is there a problem?

Are you facing a gigantic problem? The Israelites had a problem that was gigantic but we also have burning issues. However, we  love glossing over or procrastinating issues as they are likely to be stressful, frustrating, causing anxiety. Describe situation as is-  factual no opinions.

2.What is the specific issue at hand? I am terrified of this Philistine since I have lost the support of my GOD)

3.What would I like the situation to be?  (To defeat the Philistines)

4. What is the obstacle that is keeping me from my desired situation? (Goliath is TOO BIG, strong and skilled)

Now state the problem as a question.. In what ways ...., how to....etc. In what ways can regain the confidence of  our God so that he can help us  kill this Philistine who is so much stronger than any of us? Remember to include the obstacle in the problem statement.

Step 2.....Own the  problem

5. What is my contribution to this problem? King Saul had disobeyed God who had led him through other victorious battles and thus lost his confidence.

6. How am I aggravating the problem? King Saul was not willing to repent.
 7. Might I be benefiting from the situation as it is or have I become accustomed to having the problem? 

8. Who else do I expect to deal with the problem?

9. Who am I blaming and thus limiting the actions I take?

Step 3.....Problem impact

10. How does the  problem impact the  various aspects of your life- business, career, spiritual, health, education, financial, family, social etc.? For King  Saul  and the Israelites, a loss would have a career impact(would he be king), financial impact (paying taxes to them),  spiritual( following their  cultures, gods), social(they will serve the philistines) etc.

11.  To what extent on a 1-10 scale?  A disaster- scale on 10 
12. How long will the impact last...No way of telling how long they would be under the Philistine rule

13. How is the problem impacting your emotions? It was terrifying

14. What is the worst that could possibly happen and how would you withstand it?

Step 4.....Problem opportunities

15. What is in it for me? How will I benefit? Earlier on in verse 26 we noted that David’s reaction to the problem was a question- “.....What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine...?” And the personal benefits were truly alluring as enumerated in verse 25 – “...The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

16. What other opportunities exist? Who else will benefit?

 For David there  were  more opportunities--  restore the dignity of the Israelites and uphold the supremacy of God “...... and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 
When  sorting out day to  day problems, think of all the many  new skills  we can acquire in the resolution process such as becoming better  communicators, leaders, marketers, sellers, more patience, persistence etc.

Step 5.....Problem Solution goals

17. How  will the solved problem look like?

For David the end result was pretty clear as indicated in verse 46- 47 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
In business, you could be looking at increasing your conversion rate by 20% which will yield 30% more sales and 5% increase in market share.

18. What is the short term goal? 

David had a short term goal –offer himself as the challenger who has been missing for 40 days as indicated in verse 32- “David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” You could be looking at a 5% improvement in conversion rate by end of month

6. Troubleshoot solution ideas

You need to have several possible solutions. David knew he had to kill the philistine just as he had killed a lion and bear in the past by striking them. 
He was also confident that the God  who had delivered him and the Israelites from various enemies in the past was with him. What about coming up with answers to the  following  questions?

19. How can I solve this problem? 

20. How have I solved   similar problems in the past?

21. What advice would I offer to a person who has a similar problem?

22. How have other people overcome similar problem?

23. How would other significant people (mentors, industry leaders, accountants, marketers, doctors, cleaners etc.) solve a similar problem? 

24. Who can be of help and who will certainly not assist?  David knew the person to give the go ahead to fight Goliath was King Saul. He thus kept asking the “what is in it for me question” until he was reported to Saul. He also knew better than to listen to his brother’s criticism. 
Eliab must have been smarting from being passed over and David anointed as next King! In verse 28 we read that   “When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.”

7. Deciding on solution

David tried the Kings weapons but he was not comfortable. 
He choose what he was most comfortable with as seen in verse 39-40-  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”
Take the various considered solutions through the following questions.

25. Does the solution assist me reach my goals? 

26. How long will it take?

27. How much effort will it take?
28. How does the solution make me feel?

29. What is the cost/ benefit to me and significant others now and in the future?

30. Can I visualize myself taking this solution?

31. What behaviours/ habits do I need to change?

32. What resources do I need and are they available? David had his 'weapons' at hand. He had his sling, shepherd’s bag, staff and smooth stones could easily be found in the stream.

8. Solution Execution

David approached Goliath and Goliath moved closer to size his opponent. Whether it was part of David’s strategy or not, his age and chosen weapons truly infuriated Goliath who comments in verse 43-44- “Am I a dog,  that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
David ran quickly, took out one of the stones (remember he had five) and aimed at the body part that was uncovered- the forehead. And the giant fell...thud ... facedown- giving David the  chance to now cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s sword! 
Now “terror” moved to the Philistine camp and the previously terrified Israelite army pursued, killed and plundered the camp. Moreover David kept the Philistine’s weapons in his tent- A reminder of another victory!

Consider the following questions as you develop the action plan;

 33. What is my action plan?

34. What is the first thing  I will  do?

35. What I am waiting for to start executing the action plan?

36. Am I executing the specific things to do and achieving expected results?

9. Solution review.

As mentioned earlier, David’s end result was to cut Goliath’s  head, slay the Philistine  army, uphold the name of God, and let those present know that it was not by sword  that God saves-for the battle is the Lord’s. He achieved all.

Some questions that would assist in the review include;

37. Did I achieve my goals?

38. Did I achieve the set standards?

39. What can I learn from the process?

40. How can I integrate the lessons learned into other processes/systems?

Did David get the “what is in it for me” benefits? Just read through the following chapter and determine what was realized faster “ His good” or  “Others good” goals!

Over to you Passionate Entrepreneur;
  • Which other questions  do you ask to assist you  in problem solving?
  • Which "others good" goals do you incorporate in your problem solving goals?

Share your experiences, suggestions or questions in the comments section below. Who knows- You could probably be the customer who will benefit from the “solved problem result”!

Whatever you do, make sure it results in less work, more money and positive impact.


Do you know that you can be assisted to improve your performance in “My Productivity Optimization Formula” program? Click here formore detail 
Virginia Mburu
Passionate Entrepreneurs Coach

Virginia empowers and motivates Passionate Entrepreneurs to realize their purpose and pursue it. She then assists the entrepreneurs to clarify, prioritise and focus on management and marketing strategies and action plans that will get them to work less, make more money and positively impact within one year.  Access some of her gifts- absolutely free lessons

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