In the movie and the book “The Martian“ the main character Mark Watney has a running monologue with himself where he says a lot of things to help us, the reader and viewer, to be able to follow along. He talks about being a Space Pirate and flying like Ironman and that space does not cooperate. But, what it really boils down to is… “work the problem“

That’s all it is.

I could stop this post right here.

But let’s talk about what it means to “Work the Problem

Working the problem entails a couple of things:

  • Understanding that there is a problem
  • Defining the problem
  • Confirming the problem actually is a problem
  • Thinking through what success looks like
  • Determining your resources – Not every problem needs to be solved by you

Why Work The Problem

There are a few reasons why it’s important to know how to “Work the Problem” and I’m sure you can come up with a few on your own without any prompting. Whether you are working for yourself or a large multi-national it is important to know how to identify, evaluate, and solve problems. This is what customer pay you for. This is what your boss pays you for. When you can “work the problem” you will be in demand.

How do you get started?

As Mark Watney said “You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next.”

There are a lot of ways to consider and evaluate each of these. Sometimes the order matters and sometimes additional steps will be added. As you think about what it means to “Work The Problem” there is a tried and true methodology to get to the root of an issue (aka a problem). And that is to use The Five Why’s to get to the root cause of the problem.

Why the Five Why’s?

Because when you get to the root of a problem you might find out that the problem you thought you were solving is actually not the problem you need to be solving.

I wrote this post “Solve for Why … The Business Secret”  to help anyone with The Five Why’s. Take 3 minutes and read through it and see if you can apply it to your everyday business model. You might find that some of the problems are different that you initially considered them to be.

Be aware of how you Ask the 5 Why’s… it can take time to learn how to ask them with tact.

Beyond Space Travel

Back to the beginning… Work the problem. Whether you are on earth or a Space Pirate on Mars… Work The Problem.

Because… That’s all it is.

When you get good at “working the problem” you will advance in your career and you will stand out in your career. This is true if you are self-employed or working for a large corporation. Being able to “Work the Problem” is a valued skill. Practice makes perfect. Hone this skill whenever and wherever you can.