Problem solving

Respond to business problems by adapting quickly Picture of a boy playing with toy soldiers on a wooden floor for an article by Octopus Intelligence. We isolate your problems, reduce risk and uncertainty and deliver intelligence-led answers and innovative solutions. Dedicated to help you win.

Things you can do to be adaptive and respond quickly to your business problems

By | Problem solving

Responding to business problems is not easy. But, managing business problems and crises are nothing new. This article discusses things you can do to be adaptive and respond quickly to your business problems. There are a number of things you can do to be adaptive and respond quickly to your business problems. Your response should come down to 7 actions:

  1. Control your mind
  2. Understand the situation
  3. Set priorities
  4. Isolate your options
  5. Create a plan
  6. Get prepared and attack
  7. Manage the information war

It is crucial that you give your mind the chance to process what’s happening to take control of the situation. Focused efficiency is critical in a time of crisis. Hence, leaders need to prioritise the problems they are facing and in an emergency, there is usually no time to make perfect plans. 

Respond to business problems by leading your business

Sooner or later, you will come across a severe business problem encounter some crisis or emergency. Some problems are more serious—others less so and others extremely dangerous. The smallest of issues can disrupt business and create stress and anxiety and stress. Usually, when you have already done proactive thinking and look ahead, you will be better prepared for any problem. 

Yet, many events are challenging to anticipate, and they will take you by surprise. Great leaders, like yourself, excel. While other poor managers go into panic mode, are irrational, and make poor decisions. Regardless of the size or timing of any crisis or emergency, there are consistent steps you can do to contain a problem, reduce the harm it may cause your team. As follows:

1. Control your mind

The first thing you must do when faced with a problem is to create a clear mind and my composed. To take control of the situation, you need to pause and relax and make sure you can see the situation through the fog of war. Even when the walls are collapse around you, try and think rationally. It goes against all your natural instincts which are telling you to fight or flight. If you do neither you freeze. Seek objective guidance from someone not involved in the problem to give you a different perspective.

As the fictional hero, Jack Reacher explains, going for the guys gun in a panic will get you killed. “So stay alive for the next minute and see where you are.”  Slow down and assess the situation, reason away from the chaos. 

2. Understand the situation

Once your mind is in the right place, the next thing is to create a brief and concise description of the problem you are facing. Describe the problem, without going too deeply into the why’s or, critically, who is to blame for the problem.

  • Who are the parties?
  • What is affected
  • Where is the problem happening
  • When did you first know about the problem
  • Why is it a problem?

The answers to these questions will bring the situation you are facing into perspective, giving you a realistic and accurate understanding of whats going on. Also, no one ever said “I wish I did’nt know that piece of vital information before I made that important decision” All problem-solving projects must be lead with great Intelligence.

A rational description of the situation should calm your mind, allowing you to develop a well thought out action plan.

3. Set priorities

You are likely to be facing more than one problem or crisis, so setting the priorities into requires and efficiency and focus. Answering these questions is essential to set your priorities:

  • Firstly, what’s extremely important to resolve first?
  • Then, what’s time-sensitive?
  • What objective information can we gather?
  • How serious is the problem?
  • How urgent is the problem?
  • Also, how fast are things moving?
  • And is the problem going to get worse?
  • Will this problem trigger other problems?
  • Finally, could this problem/crisis be an existential threat?

4. What are your options?

Once you understand the priorities of the, you are in a position to formulate your options, the choices you can make with the resources you had to hand and the outcomes you need to resolve the crisis and/or problem. Defining your desired results will narrow the options down, allowing you to focus more on the strategic detail required and the rights and wrongs of each choice to resolve things.

5. Create the plan

In a crisis, there is no time to make perfect plans. This is usually down to not having sufficient Intelligence to make an ideal decision,. The more Intelligence you have, the better the plan. Depending on the situation you find yourself, you may need to find a temporary quick fix—a fix to buy you more time to find a more sustainable solution. Allocate and deploy resources, produce the action plan, define who is responsible for each role and, and prioritise the required actions.

6. Get ready and then attack

Once you have the plan ready, it is now time to take action and build a consistent pace in attacking the problem or crisis. Ensure you have a few indicators within the plan to ensure you know if the plan is working or failing.

Armies around the world consider an ambush as a crisis. However, soldiers do not sit around building a plan to tackle the rain of fire, pinning them down in their positions. They don’t do the planning at the ambush site because they have decided before leaving camp as many of the potential pitfalls and disasters they could face. 

Within the finest armed forces in the world, the British Army describe them as “Actions on“. In this case:

  • “Actions on ambush” – We will return fire and withdrawn to the final RV”
  • “Actions on enemy fire we will return fire and suppress the enemy to enable us to carry on with our mission.”

Concentrate your time, energy, and resources on the most critical actions. The actions which will give you time and release the pressure you are under. Also, never get side tracked by a new keep new problem. 

Any plan goes out of the window upon contact with the enemy. A true statement, but if you simple actions to complete one at a time, you can keep on plan as close as possible. And hopefully, you will have issued an “Actions On” statement to protect the plan. Keep your team on point and keep them motivated and informed on progress. Good news and actions result in positive feedback. Celebrate breakthroughs and maintain hope. And remember share what’s happening with your team even when the news isn’t great.

7. Manage the information war

Message management is an essential aspect of problem-solving, especially when your problem is crisis management. Without messages, people will be fearful and assume the worst.

  • Watch out for fast-spreading misinformation and rumours
  • What’s reported. And who to and by whom
  • Understand how much information to share
  • And how are you going to share the message
  • What are the needs of your audience

Respond to business problems by defining what messages that need frequently repeated – think “stay at home, protect the NHS and Save lives” and also “See it? Say it, Sort it“. You know these annoyingly effective messages.


Expect the unexpected, understand that problems can range from utter carnage to something very minor. Managing these situations and the people involved is part of a leaders role. You don’t know when the next crisis is coming, but you will survive, and you will know what to do. So, take action using the suggested format discussed by controlling your mind, understanding the situation, setting priorities, isolating your options, creating a plan, getting prepared, attacking and managing the information war. 

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Pencil on a yellow background Business Problem solving advice from experts. for an article by Octopus Intelligence. We isolate your problems, reduce risk and uncertainty and deliver intelligence-led answers and innovative solutions. Dedicated to help you win.

Business Problem solving advice from experts

By | Problem solving

In this article, we look at business problem-solving advice from experts. As humans, we have a default to find simple solutions to our problems. However, outside influences and our own biases hinder the simplest of problems. In business, finding the simple answers to problems are the result of focusing on the fact and challenging what other people think. You know those commonly held opinions.

As you will know too well, finding the answer to the problem is the easier part. Many simple solutions are challenging to implement. 

The easy answers are why Apple, Airbnb and Uber are successful. If, of course, with the latter two, you don’t determine profit margins when defining success. The simple answer will not usually be easy to develop and deliver to customers, so we have taken business problem-solving advice from experts. When you first look at a problem, the answer may seem complicated. Still, it is essential to keep an open mind and look for the easy to do and easy to understand solutions to the problem your potential customers face every day. Easy to follow so your future customer gets it straight away.

The Desire for Simplicity


We have default to find simple solutions to problems. But, outside influences and our own biases hinder the simplest of problems.

Interesting research from Google in 2012 suggested that simple sites were more attractive to readers than clever cutting edge ones. Also, customers expect to see a style they have traditionally seen from similar industry players. The reason is that the website consumers prefer played on their past experience and their cognitive fluency.

Just the facts


Challenging the status quo and the commonly held opinions is not only the secret why impartial Competitive Intelligence is successful, but when it comes to problem-solving, you focus on the facts. You should isolate the fundamental truths of the problem and build your conclusions off of what you know to be true—and not relying on opinions or assumptions. Or guesswork as it commonly called.

Finding workable solutions can only be useful when you put these ideas into action. A simple solution won’t necessarily be easy to implement, and many hours of creation is required to ensure a new product or service delivers the desired customer solution.



While delivering a new solution is not easy, the end product must resonate with the customer. And the best way to do this is to reduce the complexity they experience in their day-to-day lives.

Achievement boils down to secure execution of a simple problem-solving idea.

These companies provide simple solutions, but what has helped these companies beat their competitors is to deliver a quality customer user experience consistently.



In this piece entitled Business Problem solving advice from experts, we suggested that simple solutions are not easy to create and deliver to customers. A problem-solving solution may require many weeks of work, snagging and testing before it’s ready. But by creating an easily adopted end product, you can create something with lasting impact.

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Women thinking representing Changes you can implement to you company to adapt to problems for an article by Octopus Intelligence. We isolate your problems, reduce risk and uncertainty and deliver intelligence-led answers and innovative solutions. Dedicated to help you win.

Changes you can implement to you company to adapt to problems

By | Problem solving

There are many changes you can implement to your company to adapt to problems.  And you don’t need us to tell you that your world is constantly changing. Technology is developing at light speed, and it can be hard to keep up. Imagine what it’s like for those who have been left behind already? Problems to varying degrees are a constant within business and life, and there are many ways to solve a problem and organisations need to be thinking about the process of problem-solving all the time. You may need to change your mindset with business difficulties. When thinking about problem-solving the first question to answer should be:

  • How do you want to solve that problem?
  • What problem do you want to solve?
  • What’s the problem that’s on your mind
  • And what problems you don’t know you have?

Changes you can implement to you company to adapt to problems

What is the problem that you want to solve should be a crucial part of your thinking in terms of your current and future products. Otherwise, you will struggle in isolating the problems are you going to need to resolve for your customers. When you are dealing with a problem about a subject you are passionate about, you need to realise you may not be objective in your assessments and solutions. There are many ways to solve an issue, so another important question.

How do you want to solve the problem? Finally, once you have decided what the problem is, how you are going to solve it, there is the final decision to be made. A question that brings all this together.

  • To solve the problem, what do you need to know?
  • What skills will you need, what knowledge and abilities will you need?
  • Who else is trying to solve the problem? How are they approaching the situation? Can you work with them or are their competitors?

Answer to the question

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you can research the subject yourself, but at least you know where to start. It is important to develop a continuous improvement culture, find new ways of approaching problems and bring in people into your organisation who can help. You know those who have solved these problems in the past. So what will your business look like in the future? It’s now. It’s all this week and next. It is constantly changing, improving and growing, and so it is essential that you understand the changes you can implement to your company to adapt to problems.



8 Best ways to deal with recurring business problems by Octopus Competitive Intelligence

8 Best ways to deal with recurring business problems

By | Problem solving

8 Best ways to deal with recurring business problems

It is easy to overlook in the evaluation of a solved business problem, that it first appeared to be quite complicated. It’s time to deal with recurring business problems.

It is wise to offer an easy-to-understand solution to the problems others face and here are eight key actions that could make the difference between taking shots in the dark and hitting the bull’ s-eye on the first try.

1. Think First, Act Later

When something serious goes wrong, the pressure is on, and there is massive pressure to “Do something. doesn’t matter what, just do something.” And it’s the worse thing you can do.

A “think first, act later” approach to Business problem solving tends to be more productive. Despite the pressure to get resolve an issue, it is essential to “Think first, act later”. Identify a probable cause of the problem, tested it against the problem specification and then take action it out.

2. One Problem at a Time

When you are under pressure to solve a problem, it is usually a time-sensitive situation, and you must quickly isolate the problem.

Your business will have many problems to solve, but it only takes one problem to flatten you. So after analysis, the team agrees on an exact, specific key issue. And it’s defined by writing it down. Also, test and train your teams on easy problems first. There is no point pushing your team in the deep end, especially when there are more straightforward ways of putting your foot into the water.

3. The right questions and answers

It would be best if you switched your thinking upside down. The first thing to define is not what the problem is.

  • Spend some time finding out what the problem isn’t.
  • The places it didn’t happen
  • The time it wasn’t seen
  • What it isn’t effecting
  • Problems that may have been there but weren’t

To be able to create comparisons and narrow the problem down, think what, where, when and how large.

Identify the differences between the “is”; and the “is not’. Analyse the evidence of what may have caused the problem.

The ability to find the real cause is only as good as the information you have collected during the problem specification. Always, check, double-check and triple-check the facts provided

The lack of a process is why, for years, medical experts understood malaria to be a water borne disease. Yes, dirty stagnant water in warm climates was the problem, and the people who lived around these patches of water were more likely to catch malaria. However, dirty water was not the main problem. It was Mosquitoes. There minimal fact-checking, and it took years for the medical experts to believe.

4. Simplicity

We are always trying to find a simple solution to any problem has a significant influence on the perception we of the information and analysis presented to us. And our personal biases and other external influences get in the way to make a simple problem appear to difficult to solve.

Many startup users find simple solutions by challenging commonly held opinions and focusing on the facts.

Simple not easy

Just because you find a simple solution, it does not necessarily mean that easy to implement. Work has to be put into the design to ensure you deliver the desired solution.

5. One Process

Everyone needs a simple problem-solving process. Why? Because when a problem first presents itself, outrage and emotions could be running wild. People panic, throw about idea, shoot other’s down and are argued over. An unchecked team could go in circles indefinitely without getting a handle on the actual problem.

A process something like this:

  • Do everything in an agreed sequence
  • Collect information with a recognised sequence
  • Develop the possible causes
  • Testing the possible causes to determine which is most probable
  • Verify the real cause of the problem

No jumping around back and forth or going over ground that’s already been covered and no fixating on pet causes.

6. The Right People

A disciplined process will result in many more benefits than just finding a solution to one problem. It could also bring the core team and knowledge holders together. Allowing your team to define the problem, gather the facts and develop possible causes, developing your teams into experts who can bring the right people in to support their challenge.

However, it is typical for the best information and insights not to come from the technical experts but the generalists in the field.

7. Beyond the Fix

You can usually prevent problems in the first place if teams thought about the consequences of their actions. Those trained in problem-solving also think about what they are doing. And how these could create more problems down the line.

In the future, to prevent a team working on a problem and coming to the same solution, it is essential to develop a problem database of all problem resolutions and action plans needed to correct the problem.

8. Execute

It is sometimes difficult to develop a solution to a problem. When you deal with recurring business problems, you have to remember that an acceptable needs to be found for those who will use it. If it is a customer who wants the problem resolved, they need to love it.

So, finding the cause of a problem should follow a well-thought-out, rational process, the best solution selected systematically. Following a shared, decision-making problem helps them understand which option best meets the objectives with the least risk.

And finally the team can think of ways to lessen the impact of the unavoidable risks.

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