April 7, 2017

Unknown Error Found

Pointing out a problem is just the first step.

Baseball season is finally upon us and you know what that means: millions of red-blooded American men (and women) obsessively, and perhaps furtively, checking the scores on their phones to see how our teams are doing. And by teams, of course, I mean our fantasy baseball teams.

Yes, I am one of those nerds that drafts real-life athletes on to fake teams to manage to fame, glory… and maybe win a few bucks. And even though the baseball season is a marathon of 162 games, a long winter without box scores means the first few games are often broken down and analyzed more thoroughly than a politician’s tax returns.

So there I was, opening my fantasy baseball app like the first cold beer on a warm Saturday afternoon when disaster struck: an error occurred, with the oh so helpful message “Unknown Error Found” displayed across my screen.

Now, I could wax poetic about how I’m very fortunate to have such first-world problems as a broken smartphone app, as opposed to say, poisonous drinking water or bombs being dropped on my home. Or I could drive home the relevant point that every touchpoint with a company matters and even when something works 99.9% of the time, it’s how we handle that 0.1% that separates good companies from great ones.

Instead, I think there’s a bigger point to be made about the way we all too often approach a problem, whether in our businesses, country or the world at-large. It isn’t enough to simply point out there is a problem or to treat its symptoms, although that is better than completely ignoring it, at least. No, to truly be a problem solver (something we at The Pace Group take great pride in), we have to be willing to invest the time and resources to fully understand the root causes of the problem. Which, as we well know, is a very difficult and, indeed, sometimes contentious, thing to do.

Ideally, we should provide the tools necessary for a person who is having a problem to be able to resolve it. In the case of my broken app, simply suggesting that I refresh the app might be all that’s needed to help me fix that problem. But for bigger issues, a willingness to roll up our sleeves and truly dig deep into a process or situation, perhaps by analyzing data and discussing the pros and cons to different solutions, may be necessary. Otherwise we may not actually solve anything. In fact, we might just create new, and possibly bigger, problems to solve later on.

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