Conundrum: When is a challenge not a problem?

“We do not have problems, we have opportunities to improve.” 

“We do not have problems, we have business challenges.” 

Two statements recently made to me after I had used the phrase ‘business problems’. Now, I like to think of myself as an upbeat, logical kind of person – my glass is neither half full or half empty – it’s just 50% of the receptacle’s’ capacity. But with the feedback I am receiving on my use of the phrase ‘business problems’ I am beginning to feel challenged.

I understand why the use of the word challenge is of benefit when used in reference to an individual person.  It is a more positive way to describe an unwanted condition - "physically challenged", "challenging behaviour", "faced with a challenge that provides an opportunity to improve".

Businesses however, are a collection of systems and resources designed to make a profit. When something unwanted occurs to challenge the desired business goal it should be considered a problem. By stopping short of the mark and addressing a business problem as a challenge, gives the unwanted outcome some credibility and we run the real risk of addressing the symptoms and not the root cause. If we accept and vocalise an unwanted business outcome as a problem, we can address such a positive and unambiguous statement with positive actions to achieve positive results.

So as for this wordy conundrum, I am happy that my logic wins through.

My daily challenge is to solve business problems on-behalf of my clients.

Posted by Robert Leitch on July 20th 2015

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