Fix Your Small Problems First! (August 2008)

While I realize that the title of this newsletter might sound counter intuitive, it is a thought worth considering. Fix your small problems first. We all know that many books have been written about prioritization and tackling the A’s before the B’s and C’s. Still, I think there is a certain logic that suggests tackling small problems first might make sense. To be clear, I’m talking about real problems. I am not talking about cleaning your desk and sharpening pencils so that you’ll be ready to tackle the big problems. That kind of activity is procrastination pure and simple. Instead, I’m advocating a strategy of dealing with small issues before they become big problems.

Ask yourself, is it more likely that a small problem will go away or become a big problem later? I think we all know the answer. It is far more likely that left unattended, the small problem will become a bigger problem later. Just in case you need a few examples to get you started, consider these.

• Have you ever seen a minor roof leak go away? Generally, small leaks turn into bigger leaks. For the record, I tried the “hope it will go away” strategy with this problem recently and ended up calling a roofer last week.
• Have you ever seen a problem employee become a solid performer without intervention? Most likely the answer is no. Generally, the problem employee, at best, remains a small problem. At worst, that person infects others in the organization, or does something that seriously endangers the organization’s health or reputation.
• Have you ever had small a problem with a vendor or customer that went unresolved? Perhaps it’s a small billing dispute. As time goes on, it compounds until it becomes a bigger issue. Eventually, solving it involves higher levels of management and possibly consultation with legal counsel.

Hopefully, by now, you can see that the logic in dealing with small problems first is to keep them from becoming big problems later. Fixing problems early usually requires a relatively small (when compared to the amount required to fix it later) amount of time and energy. It’s the difference between putting out a brush fire and putting out a forest fire!

If you feel as if you are constantly dealing with crisis situations, think about whether decisive action early on may have prevented some of these situations from becoming a crisis in the first place. Occasionally, there are some problems that you can “wait out”, but most times the problem only gets worse.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that anyone ignore big problems in their business, but as we approach the Labor Day weekend, find a few minutes to step back from the day to day issues in your business and consider whether there are some brush fires burning in your business that you can extinguish quickly and easily before they become forest fires!

If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to

your cash is flowing. know where.

Copyright @ 2008 Homza Consulting, Inc.

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