Pictured: Not sure this was legal or socially acceptable…but my son Ethan at the park, digging through bark all the way to the bottom. Perfect parallel to the first part of today’s message lol!

“When I first started my career…I mistakenly believed that there was an engineering fix for every problem. With the right design and engineering, all problems associated with moving animals could be solved…

What I learned from this design disaster was that I had attempted to treat the symptom of a problem instead of its cause. From that point forward in my career, I was careful to differentiate between problems that can be fixed with new equipment and problems that should be fixed by other means. Later in my career, I have observed that people want the magic new thing more than they want improved management to fix problems. Managers need to carefully determine the areas in their business where new technology is the right choice and other areas where a back-to-basics management approach may be more effective.”

This was a great insight from Temple Grandin inside Tim Ferris‘ book Tribe of Mentors. I am encouraged to go below the surface and see if there is a root cause I need to address that goes beyond the surface-level, face-value, and “tip of the iceberg” of symptoms.

I also need to be careful of the bright shiny object that may be sexy – not because of its effectiveness but only because it’s new.

And what comes to mind?

Handling issues by phone instead of emails. I have a tendency to avoid making and taking phone calls. A small portion of it is because receiving phone calls is annoying when I’m trying to focus on work; and I’m slightly antisocial, believe it or not lol!

But getting on the phone helps establish a real connection, I can understand tone and immediate clarification where email doesn’t provide that, there is less distraction, I can stand out more, and I can probably handle a bulk of the task instead of sending emails, waiting for a response, following up if there is no response, putting out fires because I missed the context of the message, etc.

I love Boomerang and email in general – because I hate paper, and I live on my electronics – but they do become a devastating crutch if I over-dependent on those tools.

Using the Reminders app on my iphone instead of MeMail, Trello and the multiple follow-up folders between my many company email inboxes (personal, The Halal Guys, Cauldron Ice Cream, my nonprofit, Christine’s @ohsugargrove account; and this doesn’t include social media, voice mails, text messages, etc.). It’s minimal and simple to where I can’t hide my workload inside task management programs with fancy bells and whistles. It’s refreshingly minimal, and forces me to keep it simple, focused, and actionable.

Refraining from sending a proposal to potential clients until I have a clear signal that a deal can happen. My over-excitement and rush to help people, anti-social tendencies, inability to say NO and admission that someone might not be an ideal client/partner, and discomfort in asking difficult questions all make me less effective in my work.

If I just slow down and ask questions to really qualify a deal, build boundaries to reject opportunities that don’t honor my goals, and truly know whether I can truly add tremendous value and that the partner/client is willing to pay for or invest in the deal…my impact on the world would be so much more powerful.

Are there any stories you’d like to share about eliminating roots of problems instead of treating symptoms? And/Or are there any back-to-basics initiatives that you do instead of new technologies that are more effective?

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