Reacting to Problems

Sometimes things break. With all sorts of processes and expectations, you will find that somehow, someway, someone will figure out a way to break something. Ether that, or someone will just not follow the process… and things break.

It’s not fun when things break.

It can be embarrasing and not look good.

When the situation looks messy, you are faced with choices. You may have a natural reaction where stress takes over and you begin to hyperventilate (hopefully not). Or, you can take a breath and do your best to be a calm voice of reason and help everyone figure out what has gone wrong.

I recommend a 5 stage approach

  1. Stop the bleeding. When something has gone wrong, stop the processes and ensure the issue(s) are contained.
  2. Root Cause Analysis. In the end, a complete RCA should be created so everyone involved understands what happened and what needs to be fixed to safeguard against the issue(s) in the future. However, when you are in the heat of the moment, ensure you at least have a high level of confidence that the root cause is understood so you can fix.
  3. Give the team time to build a plan to fix. Don’t rush. The worst thing you can do is have a team quickly try to fix something and they accidentally break something else. Make sure the full team participates in solution planning to allow for multiple points of perspective.
  4. Block and tackle. If the team needs any form of support, be there for them. Favors may need to be asked. Special exceptions may be needed. Be prepared to push.
  5. Most importantly… COMMUNICATE! Through the whole process of something breaking, regular communication to stakeholders and team members is critical. Ensuring everyone knows what is going on and giving insight into the decisions and steps being made will calm everyone else’s nerves.

Dealing with breaks is not fun, but it is not the end of the world. Keep a steady hand on the wheel and get out of the storm.