Make Safe ≠ Solved

There are all sorts of problems that we encounter every day at work and in our personal lives, yet not all of us have great problem solving skills. I can’t count the number of times I ‘fixed’ an issue that came up, only to wish I had addressed it differently.

As a child, my family were caravanners. We took off each school holiday to discover this beautiful country we live in. Interestingly, every holiday we suffered from a flat tyre on our caravan, so I became quite skilled in using the jack and changing a tyre.

However, as the umpteenth tyre was changed, I started questioning why, and funnily enough it was always the tyre on the passenger side that blew. Were we storing the caravan in a weird spot that was causing deterioration on that side? Or was my conservative Dad driving too far over and the tyre was running on the edge where the tar became gravel?

We would make the caravan safe again by changing the tyre, but we were not finding out the cause and solving it once and for all.

When it comes to incidents at work, we might isolate a faulty item or a dangerous area, but this is a short-term fix only. Incidents must be reported so that they can be assessed and investigated to be fully understood.

This is a problem-solving skill that can be applied in day-to-day issues as well. We often get caught up in the urgency of immediate fixes to ‘make safe’ the situation, but then forget to think longer term. Next time you are faced with a problem, stop for a moment and ask yourself if you’ve identified and removed the cause. If not, take note to make time to do this.