The Problem Reaction Solution Paradigm

Every project has it’s problems. The success of your start up depends on learning to solve them.

May 22nd, 2017   |    By: Stephen Moore    |    Tags: Lessons, Advisors, Mentorship & Coaching, Product/MVP




The Problem Reaction Solution Paradigm

If you have begun a start up, you will have discovered that jobs never go without problems. Problems can occur before a job even begins, most certainly will occur during a job, and can even appear after a job is seemingly finished.

A man who used share our workshop space used to always preach — problem, reaction, solution. Problem. Reaction. Solution. He deemed it a life lesson. A motto to work by. In truth, it never meant much until our workload increased. As the jobs get bigger and more ambitious, these three words have become part and parcel of my working life. Learning to embrace them, and work through them, is a challenge you will face in every project.


Problems usually fit into two categories; little issues and off ups.

Little issues are just that – problems that are easy to solve. This is the preferable type of problem to encounter on a job. You can fix them before they reach a client or before you are delivering a finished piece. It could be adding couple of packers on site to make something sit more level. It could be a changing a spelling mistake in a line of code. It is usually nothing more than a minor concern.

Off ups, however, are problems that are not so easy to fix. They are usually encountered at the most inconvenient of times, or the most inconvenient places. This could be in front of a client, or even caused by a client. It could be an issue discovered onsite, during installation. It could be a failure in a product discovered after launch. These are problems that make or break projects.

Once these eff ups make their entrance, the skill lies in reacting to them.


The Problem Reaction Solution Paradigm

Reactions fit into two categories; composed, and absolute panic.

Composed reactions will lead to sensible, appropriate solutions. This will in turn lead to a successful conclusion to the project. It is important to take a step back from a problem. Refrain from diving straight in, regardless of the great light bulb idea that just sprung to mind. Breath, stay calm, and if the client is in the vicinity, it is time to practise that ‘customer face’.

Unfortunately, sometimes a problem can cause absolute panic. Panic will blur your thinking process, and lead to fixes that are rushed, messy, or just plain crap. All out panic can also cause friction between colleagues, or with your client.

Staying calm will always allow the best chance for the best solution.


Solutions fit into two categories; the best, and the worst.

Provided you have met your problem with a cool head, and taken a few moments to consider all the available options, your solution will more likely be the best that is possible. A fix that satisfies the client. A fix that ensures you will get paid. A fix that keeps that project looking fly.

If your problem was met with all out panic, the solution you come to is likely to be the worst available. These solutions might be rushed, messy, or just plain crap. These solutions can actually lead to even more problems, and you begin a cycle of fixing your fixes.

Problem. Reaction. Solution.

Or to expand this life lesson a little further; Big problem, calm reaction, best solution. Putting this motto into practise will go a long way to helping your startup progress and prosper.

About the Author

Stephen Moore

Co-Founder of Roots Furniture, building bespoke furniture and interior fittings. My thoughts on starting a business, and the struggles that are faced. Twitter: @SteevoToday

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