4 Simple Questions to Clarify Complex Challenges

When facing complex challenges reflect on urgency, necessity, and perfectionism. Here’s how.

Clarify complex challenges with simple steps forward. Image of a spiral staircase.

#1. How important is finding a solution now?

Make progress by leaving the most complex challenges until later. Do the simplest thing now. Take the easiest path now.

Taking the bull by the horns sounds great until you meet an angry bull.

Deal with underlying issues before solving the most complex challenges. Ask yourself, “How can we make progress without solving the most confusing challenge first?”

#2. How can you shrink big to small?

Taking the bull by the horns sounds great until you meet an angry bull. Image of a bull's horns.

Brian Tracy wrote the international best seller, “Eat that Frog.” He suggests doing the hard thing first. Perhaps you can gobble a frog and get it over with. But elephants go down in small pieces.

  1. What’s the simplest step forward?
  2. What’s the clearest step forward?
  3. What’s the easiest step forward?

Make progress. Don’t choke on the most difficult challenges. Don’t fret about the size of your elephant. Take a small bite and chew.  And so on.

#3. What’s necessary?

Urgent feels necessary, but maybe it’s a distraction. Evaluate ‘urgent’ issues by exploring impact. What if you do nothing? Imagine someone feels upset. Is it necessary to halt progress to deal with their splinter? Be kind and focused.

Urgencies distract from priorities.

Some feelings distort reality. When urgent concerns have big implications deal with them. What happens when you temporarily ignore an urgency. Will the house burn down?

#4. What is good enough?

Perfect solutions to the most complex challenges are rare. Reject perfectionism. Embrace the next imperfect step.

Perfect is slow, laborious, and unlikely. Imperfect is achievable. A good steak now is better than waiting for the perfect steak.

A good step is better than the perfect step.

Set the bar high enough to inspire effort, not so high people walk away.

Still curious:

10 Ways to Successfully Lead Through Problems

The Process of Solving Complex Problems Research paper.