When you only have one problem, it’s almost certainly got an approachable solution. It might not be easy, and it might take a while to get there, but you will likely be able to see a path to get to where you need to be.
This can often be the state of play when you are working at the level of a single team. You have one big overriding problem to deal with at a time, you figure it out, then you solve it.
As you take on more responsibility, the chances that you are dealing with just a single problem become vanishingly small. Working across a group of teams, you quickly find that each team has their own problems, whether that’s product, project or people issues. There’s also things going on in the wider world, across the organisation and even inside your own department.
Now you need to work with different strategies. These problems are going to be linked to one another, so working on one could make another worse. You won’t be able to solve them all, so you need to figure out where to put your focus. Things will change, so you need to be ready to adapt to what’s coming.
- Understand – Look at everything that’s a problem right now. Figure out the Important or Urgent ones, delegate or ignore the rest.
- Relate – Put together problems that are related. If working on one impacts another then you need to understand that relationship.
- Communicate – If people feel their problems are being ignored, then they will feel that those problems are unsurmountable. Let them know where the focus is, and why.
Keep going through this process on a regular basis. You’ll solve a few problems, some will get more important and need more focus. Some might just go away!
There’s a lot more that you need to do when working at the higher level. You don’t just have a single big problem any more, and you need to recognise that to succeed.