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  • Rick Cramblet

"Normal" and "Abnormal" Problems

Rest assured, your organization will have problems. Problems are the natural byproduct of change and change is always taking place. Think of it this way - as much as we may be tempted to complain about change, the only business or organization that doesn't have to worry about change is the one that has failed and gone out of business. Once you are dead, change ceases to be an issue.


That thought is probably not very comforting but there is a positive way to look at this; change brings with it the possibility of an opportunity. Put another way, one person's "problem" can become another's opportunity. Mobile computing (your smartphone) created an opportunity for Uber and a problem for taxi companies. The rise of more efficient batteries was an opportunity for Tesla and a problem for the "traditional" automakers. I'm sure you can think of specific examples of change that apply to your world and the resultant "problems" or "opportunities" that followed.




Both a problem or an opportunity requires the same response - management! You need to manage your problem before it becomes destructive and you need to manage your opportunity before it disappears or a competitor takes advantage of it before you do. For our purposes in this article, we will focus on dealing with problems and the first step to addressing a problem is to understand if it is "normal" or "abnormal"..


Normal or Not - It Depends:

The question of whether a problem is "normal" or "abnormal" depends on where your organization is at in its development life cycle. Problems that are normal for a company that is in the "Go-Go" phase of development (see the illustration below) are totally abnormal later in that company's lifecycle. EXAMPLE: It's normal for a baby to need to be fed by its parents, because it can't secure and prepare the food itself. It's abnormal for a 20 year old person to need someone to set them in a chair (with a bib) and tell them "the airplane is coming in for a landing" to get them to eat lunch.


Being frustrated that we are experiencing a problem which is "normal" in the development phase of our organization is wasted energy. We need to deal with those problems in some very specific and prescribed ways because we need to get the organization through them in order to advance to the next phase of development. Starving a baby that won't (can't) feed itself is not the right behavior. On the other hand, if we don't address abnormal problems properly, they will potentially damage or even destroy an organization. It's very important to know the difference and act accordingly.

What To Do?

If you're not sure if your problems are normal or abnormal, perhaps it's time to bring in an external point of reference. Organizations can lose perspective and problems can go unaddressed because we get used to them or our previous attempts to solve them seemed more painful than the problem itself. If you're ready for an evaluation of your business or organization's lifecycle and problems - Brite Consulting can help! Just reach out and set up a preliminary, no cost assessment meeting and we can get started!

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