Workplace Rights

Weekly (11/20/13)

Topic of the Week  Problem Solving In Tough Times

  • DO challenge your assumptions.
  • DO collect data.
  • DO weigh pros and cons.
  • DON'T let pride get in the way.

Not Normal: Problem Solving in Tough Times

Recently I've read articles describing our economy as "On it's way back," "Stuck in neutral" and "On it's way back down." Whatever your view, it's tough to argue that it's not a challenging time for most people. Therefore we need a new approach to work and decision-making. Which reminds me of the guy who drove home from New York City in reverse. This was no small feat, he drove through the Holland Tunnel using only his rear view mirror.

How is this different from how most of us work today? We base our work on old patterns and projections, a.k.a., the rear view mirror. That doesn't work anymore. Things have changed dramatically and we've got to change too. So I've listed three Do's and one Don't for upgrading your decision making for these difficult times. For more, check out "The Daily Drucker" by Peter Drucker (Harper Business, 2004).

DO challenge your assumptions. What worked yesterday probably won't work today. Many customers are still skittish about spending money, your vendors might not be able to deliver the goods like they used to and it takes a lot more to light a fire under your own people. Talk about your perfect storm. That's why it's so important to dig deep to ask yourself what you assume about your customers, your suppliers and your employees. Then see if these assumptions are still real. For example, try to contact your top customers and ask them about their spending plans for the year, don't just make assumptions on your own about them good or bad.

DO collect data. Most of us have spent our entire career shooting from the hip. We take advantage of our years of experience to address our new challenges. However, things have changed dramatically these days, so we must stop guessing and do our homework. When it comes to data collection, many of us suffer from MEGO, my eyes glaze over. But today we all have to become born-again data collectors and insight generators.

DO weigh pros and cons. Lady Justice had it right. She's the model for our judicial system and she his holding a scale. Most of us could use a lesson from her to do a better job of weighing pros and cons before we act. For most situations a clear action does not readily appear. You've got to explore both the best, and worst, case scenarios with fresh eyes. Resist the temptation to race through this part and take the time to sort out your options.

DON'T let pride get in the way. Many of us are so invested in our beliefs that it's painful to step away. But we've got to do it even if it hurts. With spending ratcheted down, we all have precious little room for error. So put your ego on ice and see things as they are, not as you'd like them to be.

Follow these tips and your career should go forward even if the economy goes sideways, or worse.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via


Thought of the Week

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it."

–W.C. Fields

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week


    An Economy Out of Sync

    • 11 million people are unemployed in the U.S. today, but 45% of HR managers can't find qualified candidates for their open positions.
    • 8 in 10 employers are concerned about the growing skills gap, but only 4 in 10 are doing something about it.
    • 1 in 4 companies have lost revenue due to extended job vacancies.
    • Nearly half of U.S. companies spend less than $68 per day on training employees.
    • Retaining talent is critical. A 10% increase in customer service workers who stay with a firm at least five years is associated with $16 million dollars in value added.



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