We deal with problems every single day. I’d like to think that there is a systematic way to solve them so we don’t make a bigger mess or we don’t let it become a routine job. We want to be able to say with confidence, that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I try to follow 7 steps whenever possible.
Gather data: Don’t get ahead of yourself and try to speculate or fix anything. Use your time to gather as much data about the situation as possible. Don’t assume you know it. Measure twice and cut once. Some people are able to do this by instinct and building logics around that but being quick is not the objective here.
Control situation: Control the situation so that it does not get worse. Especially when it’s a critical situation, you want to hold it in place and buy time for the next steps.
Problem isolation: With sufficient information and a controlled situation, now it’s time to study the problem, break it down, and relate all the pieces. This is the only way to fix it accurately. Find the root cause.
Identify risks: When trying to fix a problem, it’s important to know if it will introduce new problems which make the original problem harder to fix.
Mitigate risks: Do a backup, setup safety net, give a heads up to others, get some sleep. Be equipped for what’s coming.
Prevent recurrence: Implement permanent fix in direct response to the root cause whenever possible. The idea is to fix it so that it never comes back in its original form. This is when you need to think – screw me twice, shame on me.
Learn from it: Review the incident. There is always things that can be done better or mistakes that can be avoided. If you walk away the minute the problem is solved, you learned nothing.