Efficient Strategy for Problem Management
March 27, 2014 10:28 AM   Subscribe

When I encounter a problem that I want to improve my management of, what is a better strategy than, "find book on Amazon/ order book/ never read book or only read 1st chapter?

Every time I need information about a situation I want/ need to manage - eg having a difficult conversation with an employee - I wind up on Amazon, where there's usually a bunch of literature. But ordering and reading an entire book for every particular difficult or challenging situation I encounter - either at work or in my personal life - is an OK theoretical strategy which unfortunately does not transfer well into the real world.

What alternative strategies are there?
posted by forallmankind to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Try to find someone who has been in a similar situation and learn from them? To me that seems the most logical and best route. AskMeFi does this pretty well...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:32 AM on March 27, 2014

Set a SMART goal.

Specific: write down exactly what you want to accomplish
Measurable: how will you whether the goal has been met?
Achievable: confirm that the goal is realistic
Relevant: the goal should matter to you (serve the larger picture)
Time-framed: specify the deadline for completing the goal
posted by 99percentfake at 10:37 AM on March 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

1. Wait and don't do anything. The problem may resolve itself in time.

2. Google the problem, and only read a short article instead of a book.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 10:37 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Spend time on Google rather than Amazon. There are tons of websites and forums with good information on them. Like this one, for instance.
posted by jaguar at 11:29 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Books are good if you want to change something that happens often and you need a number of different ways to manage that change differently (for example: training new employees). The internet is good if you have a more concise issue that can probably be resolved with a minor modification to your current efforts (a single difficult discussion with an employee).

You don't need to know everything there is to know about difficult discussions if this is a one-off issue, but if you're dealing with a number of tricky situations with different staff, then invest the money and time in a book.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:38 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of information out there, so go to Google 1st. Many courses have content online. A search for site:*.edu topic will search only .edu sites, and is pretty useful for academic results.
posted by theora55 at 11:54 AM on March 27, 2014

Ask a question about it here, but only if you have no more than one of these per week.
posted by DMelanogaster at 12:07 PM on March 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Get the book from the library. They can get stuff they don't have through inter-library loan. You're still only reading the first chapter, but at least it's free or very cheap.

Or, ask the people around you for their perspective on the problem. If it's a people management issue, could you ask peers in another department, or someone one step up the ladder? If it's a problem with tools, products, or workflow, brainstorm with your team.

What it sounds like is that you aren't narrowing down your information need very well. You're looking for answers without knowing what the question is. The SMART method upthread is a good way to resolve problems efficiently in part because it forces you to define the problem and what the solution could look like.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Could there be common themes to your questions/problems? For instance, do they often involve tricky communication, like your example? Or is it really something completely different every time? If you can distill any common themes / underlying issues, it might be worth it spending a bit more money and time on those, so in the future you'll be better equipped to handle the problems that arise from those larger issues.
posted by Ms. Next at 12:51 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Read fewer, more general and insightful books that apply to the same situations.
posted by michaelh at 4:30 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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