Small and micro-motor carriers can reap valuable results from using Big Business problem-solving techniques on the everyday difficulties occurring while operating their trucking company. One of the biggest roadblocks a trucking entrepreneur will face are the many first-time challenges.
At times, solutions will seem so numerous and overwhelming that it’s the well-known ‘forest for the trees’ idiom operating. At these times, it’s best to get out the ax and start taking out some of the trees to open up the view a tad.
To accomplish this, develop a Crisis Resolution Journal that lays out the entire problem along with the solution with which you’ll attempt to solve it. Even if the solution doesn’t provide the desired results, it becomes an important stepping stone for future problem-solving and remembering what not to do down the line. It also becomes a valuable reference and training tool as your operation grows, and more people are placed in management positions. It’s a training manual of what doesn’t work, but more importantly, what does work in different situations. Then it becomes a solutions reference that you and your management team can use to research whether the company has faced a similar challenge in the past, and what worked or didn’t work. Repeated mistakes are avoided.
For the one-truck operator, this may be no more than a loose-leaf, three-ring binder with an index page and tabs on corresponding pages so any problem and its possible solutions can easily be located. As the company grows, you might opt for placing this in a computer database for easy reference for more personnel.
Keep in mind it’s not usually a single problem that drives a trucking company and its owner into the ground; it’s repeating the same mistakes over and over that will take the greatest toll. Making a mistake the first time is no more than a valuable learning experience, but do it twice and it becomes a real mistake.
Here’s a list of pointers to assist you in your next problem-solving session:
1. Identify the core problem. Many times what we think is the problem is only window dressing for the actual, real problem. Not looking behind or removing the window dressing will only complicate the situation.
2. Engage anyone who is impacted by the problem to be a part of the team that comes up with the list of possible solutions.
3. Where and when necessary, if it’s beyond your current knowledge level, find an expert or experts to help you solve it. Intelligence is measured not by what we don’t know, but how we handle it when it’s discovered some knowledge, education or research is missing.
4. If a partner or employee comes to you with a problem, they have two responsibilities. One – have a solution laid out which they think will solve it. Two, they are immediately placed on the solving team. This insures that they’ll have thought the problem through if it’s required to present a solution, even if it’s not a workable one. And they know they’ll be tapped to find the resolution to the problem.
5. Complete any problem-solving session with your solutions team with the following questions for all team members:
What did you think of the meeting?
Was the time invested of value?
What is your commitment to the team and the solution at which we’ve arrived?
Personal commitment to working on the solution for the problem is extremely important in successfully solving the challenges your carrier will face.
So don’t chop down all the tress; just enough to see through the forest.