People can’t seem to get enough of mysteries. There are so many genres to discover. Depending on the type of journey I’m looking to take, I could start with a detective thriller, jump into a spy mystery, delve into a caper, hard-boiled, or legal courtroom mystery, and peer over the shoulder of a bumbling detective or a private investigator. Or else if I want to, I could suspend reality for a supernatural mystery, or just sit back and get comfortable with a cozy mystery.
In our last chapter, we talked about what mysteries and business have in common. Today, we’ll discuss three things mysteries and business have in common that are critical for success:
- Connecting the dots, and
- Making sense out of chaos
Whether it’s a mystery or a business problem you need to solve, a team begins with a lead character or business leader who usually has a track record for successfully solving a problem. Lead characters often have a specific skill set, like the ability to see the big picture, manage a diverse team of personalities, manage up with senior management, think outside the box, and are comfortable with being uncomfortable—managing risk.
Yet, solving the mystery isn’t a one-person endeavor. A detective builds a core team with a mixture of skills to identify clues to a problem. The skills can include research, financial, and technology skills, quite similar to skills business leaders need to solve the problem.
However, soft skills are underrated. What do I mean by that?
Sometimes the information sits in someone’s head, not in the cloud, a spreadsheet, on social media, or in a text message. The right team member has to be assigned to a suspect to listen and ask the right question to identify new clues.
The more mysteries solved, the deeper the team rhythm developed, the greater ease members have bouncing ideas off each other, and the fostering of team resilience, critical to successful navigation of the unknowns.
Connecting the Dots
In business, the sponsor’s ability to understand the problem and what steps to take next requires thinking about the problem from multiple angles. People are interviewed to figure out how the people and the problem are connected. As the team interviews people, it gets a sense of when people are sharing information and when people are withholding information.
You’ll often notice business leaders, like detectives, are looking for the gaps in the stories to understand what information is missing, which is relevant, and which is irrelevant. Hypotheses are developed and tested. Some hypotheses turn into dry holes while others turn into potential solutions. Leaders also know when it’s time to pivot and make some decisive decisions, based on the information available, and to provide recommendations for solving the problem.
Making Sense Out of Chaos
As the mystery winds down, the detective has to explain the mystery and who did it. She has to make a presentation, just like a business leader would do, to tell the story. She has to define what the mystery was, what the issues were, which people were involved, why other issues and people were ruled out, and what was the motivation of the person engaged in the crime, the reason behind a lost item, or finding a way to bring people together.
Business leaders must define the problem, explain the changing marketplace, competitors, and what the impact is on the business. Hypotheses are developed and tested, and the remaining hypotheses turn into recommendations. The challenge for the business leaders is whether they are motivated to accept the recommendations and move the organization in a new direction to improve performance, increase revenues, reduce costs, or achieve greater growth.
Solving the Mysteries of Business
Whether it is a mystery or a business problem presenting itself, the decision in question is often a yes or no question. In some situations, the information available to answer the question may be very limited, or there is too much information, making it difficult to decide what to do. What makes the difference is having a strategy for understanding the problem, building and testing the hypotheses, and persistently working the remaining options until the problem is solved. Then give credit and share the success with the team. This is why I can’t get enough of mysteries because no one situation or business problem is alike.
In our next posts, we’ll explore what business strategy has in common with mysteries. Let me know what other skills you think are critical to solving a mystery or a business problem. Leave your comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or pick up the phone to call—we’re ready to help you solve your business mysteries.
Carla A. Fleming is the Founder and Chief Strategist for Renewable Marketing, a marketing strategy firm. Contact us today to set-up a 30-minute Discovery Session and learn how we can help you cultivate your business.