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Mar 05
2018

What’s The Problem?

Posted by: Steve Marr

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When I do consulting work, my first challenge is to identify what my client believes is their major problem. Unless I’m able to focus quickly and effectively on what the client believes is the key issue to solve, my relationship will be very short-term. As a consultant, it might be easy to lose sight of what the customer sees as the problem and start with what I see as the solution. An example I frequently use is the drill salesman selling drill bits to a metal working company. The customer isn’t really interested in a drill; they’re interested in the most effective way to create holes in the metal product. Rather than buying a drill bit, the customer is really buying a hole in the metal.  

An example today is grocery stores. The store visit most frequently is an okay experience. However, now there are other options. I can go online to order from Costco and make the drive to pick up my order. There’s another store with more variety that I can also place an order online.  When I arrive at the door, store clerks put the groceries in my car and I sign the credit card slip. My regular store may think they solve my problem by providing the groceries I want, and to some degree this is true. However, they fail to understand that I also have a time problem. My time is valuable, and I don’t have a lot of it.  To save time, I will click in advance, make my order, pull up to the reception area and receive my groceries all in less than five minutes. This is an attractive alternative on many days. These stores understand that part of my problem is time.  

I live near a Salvation Army Kroc Center.  One service they offer is short-term childcare. Parents can come in with little ones, leave them in the short-term care room for 45 minutes before picking them up. This benefit is also useful when parents want to take one of the courses they offer. The Kroc Center understands the problem they need to solve for families using their services.  It isn’t enough to offer classes; they have to offer childcare so that parents can take the classes.  

We see an example in scripture when “Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.” (Luke 18:40-41, NIV) Jesus would have known the problem, but still he asked. One reason I believe the Lord asked was to provide a model for us. We should never assume that we know what someone else’s problem is.  We should always ask to be certain.           

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