I recently heard Herman Cain being interviewed on one of Atlanta’s local television stations. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and also ran in the 2012 presidential election race here in the U.S. However, this Tip has nothing to do with politics. Rather, it has to do with business and understanding the correct approach to solving problems, which is why I found the interview so fascinating.
Under his effective leadership, several years ago, Mr. Cain turned the Godfather’s pizza chain into one of the best pizza companies in America. When he was asked what he would do if he were elected President, he immediately answered, “I would approach all of our problems in this country the same way I approached all of the problems at Godfather’s Pizza. We turned that around and we can turn our country around, too!” He went on to elaborate on the necessary steps to solve any problem.
- The right problem – the first point was that it is important to make sure we are trying to solve the right problem. If we are not working on the right problem, it will not be of much help.
It reminded me of the humorous story I heard years ago about a couple of “good ol’ boys” from south Georgia. They bought five hundred watermelons for $1.00 each and drove to New York to set up a watermelon stand. When they got to New York, they sold all five hundred watermelons for $1.00 each. They were so excited – until they counted their money! After calculating the gasoline and travel expenses, they realized they had lost money. One of the guys said to his friend, “How stupid can we be? Do you know what the problem is don’t you?” “No, what is it?” asked his friend. He said, “We need to buy a bigger truck!” I think it goes without saying that they did not understand the right problem.
- The right priorities – It is important to put your problems in the right priority before attempting to solve them, otherwise you may only make matters worse. Maybe another one of my examples will help to illustrate the point.
What if you and I had been on the Titanic the night it hit the iceberg and as it began to sink I said to you, “I think it would be a good idea if we polished all of the brass on this ship”? You would think I had lost my mind! You would likely say, “Polishing the brass is not my top priority! I think a better priority would be looking for a life boat!” Again, that is just a simple example, but I think sometimes we get bogged down when we focus on the wrong priorities.
- The right people – Mr. Cain explained that if you hire good, competent people and let them do their jobs effectively and correctly, it will help a company to succeed.
Years ago, there was a young boy in one of my youth groups by the name of Tony. He was angry. He told me his father was always telling him what to do. Tony was lazy and did not want to do what he was told. But I knew Tony’s father and he was a wonderful man. He was just the right person for Tony to have in his life. One day Tony told me, “I am leaving home!” When I asked where he was going, he informed me that he was going to join the Marines. I almost fell over laughing! I said, “If you don’t like to do what your father tells you to do, wait until you join the Marines! They will tell you what time of day you can go to the bathroom!”
- The right plan – If you do not put a plan in place, you are certain to fail. How can you hit a target when you don’t know what your goal is? Having the right plan includes setting into place the necessary steps to help you reach your intended goal.
I once met a young girl who said she wanted to be a missionary to China. I told her that I thought that was wonderful and that I was sure she would do a great job. I inquired if she already knew the Chinese language or if she was planning to learn it when she got there. A strange look came over her face and she said, “I really haven’t thought about it very much. Do you think I will need to speak Chinese?” I realized then that she had no plan. All she had was an idea. There is a big difference between a plan and an idea. A plan includes thinking through the necessary steps that will need to take place in order to succeed in whatever endeavor you may choose.
- Execute, execute, execute! – This fifth and final step simply means to take all of the four previous steps and put them into practice; make them happen!
Now, I realize that I have taken something that Herman Cain said in a couple of minutes and expanded on it with my own thoughts and ideas. However, at the core of this simple concept is one of the wisest approaches to problem-solving that I have ever heard.
Let’s review together: 1) Right problem, 2) Right priorities, 3) Right people, 4) Right plan, 5) Execute! It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Mr. Cain used that approach to take a faltering enterprise to a multi-million dollar business. He also believed that same simple approach could solve many problems in America.
I have already started using his approach to problem solving in my own life and I have found it to be very effective! I believe you will, too! I hope you will join me!
Tip: Remember the 5 keys to effective problem-solving!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm