This is part 2 of 2 on Critical Thinking and solutions to the five types of challenges. 

The previous podcast covered the 5 types of challenges a business can experience and listed their characteristics. Those challenges are:

  • Simple
  • Complicated
  • Complex
  • Chaotic
  • Random

Let’s go through them along with the solution techniques.

Simple.  With simple the rules work. The problem is out-of-bounds behavior occurring.

Solution: You simply reference the policies/procedures and rules you have in place and get back to doing things right and achieve the deliverables. This is where money is made unless your company is being paid to explore the other areas listed below. Consequently, driving to simple as much as possible is essential.

Complicated. With complicated the rules work but the problem is there are several sets from which to choose.  For example, you may have a core product, such as sheet metal manufacturing, wedding photography, consulting services, home repair, course offerings, etc., that you are willing to modify based on specific client needs. The challenge is deciding how, exactly, those specific needs are to be met.

Solution: You have meetings with your employees, vendors, etc., and decide which methods to use for the given situation. The only thing new to the situation is which methods in your “tool box” are appropriate for the situation and the order in which they will be used. Notice that some meeting hours will be consumed generating this solution.

Complex. With complex the problem is new thinking is required if you are going to get back to simple. Here the rules, to some extent, aren’t working and something new is needed.

Solution: Based on client needs you and your team look at the existing rules and keep what works, drop what doesn’t, and add new rules specific to the situation. Experimentation, which may incur some sunk costs, is needed. This can include changes in the culture and organization which, in turn, can upset some of your team members and stakeholders. More time than usual is spent on organizational culture and team makeup in order to create and sustain a stable environment.

Chaotic. With chaotic there are general thoughts but the problem is there are no specific, implementable rules. Once you go one level down below the strategic level organization disappears.

One is left only with intention. These intentions may be quite strong and there may be a great deal of belief in future success but, again, the situation “has no legs.”

Solution: To bring the ideas to life there is a need to move into complex and start the experimentation process. There is reliance on the team and all stakeholders, believing that as a team you can make this happen.

Random. With random there is just a bunch of ideas with no particular structure. This is what I call the “coffee shop” stage where ideas are being kicked around and there is a lot of brainstorming and searching for options and possibilities. This is a sunk cost.

Solution: Move into the Chaotic state and start structuring your business plan. Feel free to go back and forth between random and chaotic until the business plan starts feeling “right” and you are comfortable you can share it with others to review and eventually serve as the base for creating implementation plans.

For more information see below for my contact information.

Download my free e-book MINDSET – 5 SIMPLE WAYS TO LOOK AT COMPLEX PROBLEMS and learn how to find a simple vantage point from which you can resolve challenges.

For more information on the “8 Steps From Chaos To Clarity and Calm: CEO Advanced Training” go to

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