In a fast-moving world, quick decisions are often seen as a criterion for good management, and the same is applied to problem solving. As a result, when faced with problems, many managers respond by going straight to attempting a solution.

But often, the best initial action to take when faced with a problem is to take no action at all. This is not to say that managers should simply do nothing, but only with time passing can problems be fully-understood and dealt with in a logical and methodical way. An effective manager does not seek a quick solution, but a well-thought out one.

To achieve this, managers should carefully consider the following three steps:

  1. What exactly is the problem? – Precision is key here. Visualise the difference between the result you get and the result you want.
  2. Why does the problem exist? – Consider the structural reasons for the problem in order to find its true cause. Brainstorm and list all possible options.
  3. What are the possible solutions? – Think about alternative ways the structure could be changed to tackle the problem. Often there is no ‘right answer’, but comparing options helps to find the best one.

By delaying thinking about the solution, and instead taking your time reflecting on these three steps, you will be far more likely to decide the right action to take – and save a considerable amount of time in the long term.

BCW Sports practice is the sport unit of global advisory firm Burson-Marsteller. We provide strategy and communication advice for sport clients around the world. For more information: