solve the wrong problem, make the real one worse

Some time ago, I sat down with a business owner. I asked them a handful of questions. In 10 minutes, I realized they had optimized a department that wasn’t the bottleneck.

In doing so, they made the root problem 4 times worse.

Even though a simple discussion cleared it up, it’s still strikingly easy to get lost in the weeds. It’s a somber reminder that if you solve the wrong problem, you’ll make the original problem worse.

For example:

  • If you think you need more leads to make more money…
  • but you’re actually losing money in fulfillment…
  • Then you’re going to double your sales…
  • while actually draining your bank account…

When it’s laid out like that, it’s easy to see. Most of us, though, have blindspots.

You need to stay anchored to these questions:

  • What’s the real bottleneck in our business?
  • What do we need to do to fix it?
  • If that’s not where we instinctively go, how do we keep myself on track to fix the root issue?

Solve the root problem.

Solving anything else just makes it worse.

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