Unexpected obstacles are a given in business. That’s why strategic business owners and industry leaders make a point of exploring potential setbacks and how to solve them before launching any major projects or new offerings.
Like the best practice is to always test your tech pipelines and email sequences before sending them live, trouble-shooting predictable issues in your action plans and workflows before you set them into motion will save you countless headaches and even more in profits.
But how do you handle the curveballs you couldn’t see coming?
And what can you do to nurture resilience and agility when those curveballs hit so that you and your team can innovate effective solutions in the moment?
Fasten your seatbelts, because as we delve into the uncharted territory of uncertainty, you’ll discover that sometimes, those unexpected detours lead to the most remarkable opportunities.
Cultivating Creative Solutions: A Team-Based Approach to Overcoming Challenges
This simple practice will expand your perspective and illuminate new possibilities by actively fostering a growth mindset.
If you’re a hands-on leader in your company, I recommend completing this curveball-busting exercise with your team for best results and immediate impact.
If you have a leadership team in place, use this practice to explore a current or recurring challenge in your business with them. This will help illuminate innovative solutions while actively fostering a sense of collaboration and belonging amongst your team as you collectively curate a solution-based, growth-driven perspective.
Strategist’s Suggestion: To cultivate a more expansive perspective and informed understanding of the challenge you’re working to overcome, have each member of your leadership team walk through this exercise with the folks who report to them, too.
Questions to Ask When a Curveball Throws Your Game Plan Out the Window
Whether you complete this practice virtually or in real life, you’ll need a shared workspace like a whiteboard to work through this exercise together.
Draw a line down the center of your workspace and answer the following questions in the left column.
When you’re done, use the blank space on the right-hand side to brainstorm outside-the-box alternatives to the answers on the left. The more outlandish here, the better.
Fundamental Designs to Create a Collective Starting Point
- What Is Our Long-Term Vision?
Reconnect with your long-term vision for the business. How does this obstacle fit into the bigger picture, and what steps can you take to stay on course?
- What Exactly is the Challenge We’re Facing?
Begin by identifying and defining the obstacle clearly. What is the specific challenge or issue that has arisen?
- Why Did This Obstacle Unfold?
Explore the root cause of the obstacle. Is it a result of internal factors, external market shifts, or unforeseen circumstances?
- What Immediate Actions Can We Take?
Determine actionable steps that can be taken immediately to address the obstacle and mitigate its impact.
Once you’ve created a foundational understanding of the challenge your company is facing, it’s time to curate strategic solutions that will close the gaps and position you and your team to triumph over adversity.
10 Questions to Break Through Business Curveballs
1. Are Our Original Goals Still Relevant?
Revisit your initial business goals and objectives. Do they still align with the current situation, or do they need adjustment?
2. What Are Our Priorities Now?
Determine the most pressing priorities in light of the obstacle. What aspects of your business should take precedence?
3. If We Could Only Solve One Aspect of This Obstacle, What Would It Be?
Prioritize by identifying the single most critical aspect of the obstacle that, if resolved, would have the most significant positive impact.
4. If We Were Starting from Scratch, What Would We Do Differently?
Imagine you’re launching this particular project anew. What decisions, strategies, or processes would you change based on your current knowledge?
5. If We Had Unlimited Resources, What Would We Do Next?
Explore ambitious solutions that you might not have considered due to resource constraints. Are there accessible alternatives you hadn’t thought of? Workarounds worth playing with?
6. What Are the Potential Risks and Rewards?
Conduct a thorough risk vs. reward analysis for any proposed solutions or changes in strategy. What are the potential benefits and drawbacks?
7. What Is the Smallest, Most Incremental Step We Can Take?
Instead of aiming for a grand overhaul, focus on the smallest, most achievable step that can be taken right away to address the obstacle.
8. Are We Prepared for Iterative Adjustments?
Embrace the idea that your strategy may need ongoing adjustments based on evolving circumstances and feedback. Identify strategic points to check and adjust your action plan to avoid significant delays and setbacks down the road.
9. How Will We Monitor Progress?
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to track the effectiveness of your new strategy. How will you know if it’s working?
10. What Does This Obstacle Teach Us About Our Business Model?
How does it highlight vulnerabilities or inefficiencies in your current business model? What adjustments are needed?
Challenging Your Core Assumptions
Now that you’ve completed the practical analysis of the obstacle impeding your company’s growth, it’s time to reevaluate your fundamental assumptions about your industry, market, or business.
Could these unconscious biases and inherent assumptions be holding you back from finding a meaningful solution?
Revisit the questions above, and record your team’s answers on the right-hand side of your workplace. This time, intentionally curate the most unexpected, outside-the-box alternatives to the solutions you documented in the left column.
When you’re done, take turns sharing what insights stand out as offering actionable and impactful – if unexpected – solutions.
From Uncertainty to Opportunity: Thriving with a Growth Mindset
Embracing uncertainty and cultivating a growth mindset isn’t just how you create strategic solutions and desired outcomes. It’s how you develop the agility and resilience to navigate any professional obstacle that comes your way.
By actively engaging with your team, challenging assumptions, and seeking creative solutions, you’ll overcome the curveballs and learn how to use them to your advantage.
The next time an unexpected business obstacle throws your game plan out the window, remember it’s an invitation to collaborate, innovate, and redefine what success means.
It’s precisely these unexpected detours that often lead to the most remarkable discoveries. Embrace them, and watch your business thrive in the face of uncertainty.
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