How to redefine challenges with business collaboration

Collaborating with other businesses can help business owners find solutions to what seems like never-ending challenges.

Tags: Best practices, Planning, How to, Innovation, Efficiency
Published: November 08, 2019

You own a business, and a minor financial problem has led to a mix-up with a supplier. While you’re dealing with that mix-up, something happens with your IT infrastructure. Pretty soon, you feel like you're engaged in a never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole. Collaborating with other businesses can change that.

Kris Terp, CEO of 1 Micro LLC, meets with a  network of small business CEOs each month to discuss their individual challenges and consider a variety of perspectives. By seeking to redefine their problems and by collaborating with other businesses in different industries, they often discover surprising and lasting solutions to their business challenges. These following dynamic approaches to problem solving have helped Terp and his colleagues improve their business operations.


Redefine the problem

When a challenge presents itself, it’s almost instinctual to want to find an immediate solution. The quickest solution, however, isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes how you ask the question and define the problem is more important than finding an answer right away.

This might sound counterintuitive, but think about it this way: The more ways you can frame the problem, the more likely it is you can come up with a truly effective and long-lasting solution. If you look at an issue from a several perspectives, you may discover new opportunities or more fundamental solutions.

Take time to brainstorm with others. Ask questions, such as:

  • What is our problem? Remember, this isn’t a search for a solution; it’s a search for a definition.
  • How else can we look at this issue? Take time to free associate and look for connections you did not see before. A supply issue, for instance, may actually stem from an employee satisfaction issue.
  • What can we learn from this problem that might apply to other areas of our business? Cross-learning can benefit other areas of your business. Oftentimes, you can cross-learn from working with other business owners.


Business collaboration can be the key

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for help. Even if you know someone in a completely different industry, he or she may be able to provide fresh insights that will help you better understand the issue you are facing.

Another benefit of business collaboration is that the input and experience of your peers will take you outside of your comfort zone and change how you see things.

Even if you own a welding company, for example, you may get great insights from the owner of a graphic design firm. Likewise, the CEO of a midsized consulting firm may benefit from bouncing ideas off a restaurant owner.


Continue reading and learn about how to successfully manage your business.