leadership roundtable hq

Never Assume You Understand the Problem


Most times in life we think we know the problem; hence we do not dig deep to find out why the problem, what is the problem, and where/when the problem originates from talk less about where/when it is heading/ending, before we start to proffer a solution or HOW to solve it, technically called solving problems. The presumptuousness that we know or better put, understand the problem is the reason why after “cleaning shit, the ground is still smelling ‘shit’, ‘shit’ resulting to the proverbial wisdom saying that it is not good to clean shit and the place continues to smell shit.

Economic Importance of Problems

Problems in life, business, career, and pursuits wherever they are found are real. Real than “real estate” and “Real Madrid”. Problems are more real than you can imagine. Problems in any system are like antibodies in the human body. Problems are good and problems are bad! Just like fears! At least, problems make us sit up, and know our friends and or foes. Problems give us shape, preventing us from being amorphous or ameboid. Problems put you on alert. Problems make you sit up, not oversleep. Problems are part of life’s existence and will be so as long as life is. Our people say, “uwahala no dey finish!”

Problems are serious issues. Problems, like conflicts, can waste Time, sap Energy, waste Resources and squander Money. I call it TERM! Never, never take problems lightly [for granted], but my challenge here is that many people hardly know what the problem is before “attempting” to solve the problem, thinking that they are already solving a problem.

Problems Versus Challenges

Before I forget, it is good to refresh you, remind you, or educate you that problems are not exactly challenging. Challenges are not problems either. Some use it ignorantly as same. Most things people call problems are not problems. They are at most challenging. The difference lies in YOU. Can the solution be gotten within your powers or is it what you can get around easily [it is then a CHALLENGE] or you are helpless on it [it is then a PROBLEM]. Challenge means you are challenged by ideas, thing, or person but you haven’t really addressed it or if addressed, it’s not adequate and sufficient. Challenge means you are confronted by a life situation within you or not far from you, but you can handle it. Problems are more than that. Problems mean you are helpless and incapacitated. The problem is above you, perhaps you will need interventions.


  • As I write this [today is August 15, 2022], this FG government policy on pegging/ceiling online payments to a certain amount of dollars in a month affects some of us badly. It’s a challenge to renew our online subscriptions when we have exhausted in a month $20 ceiling. I’m near helpless. But on little flexing of my hand, a solution came. We made payment through someone’s dollar domiciliary account. This is a challenge, not a problem.
  • As I write this, I heard that the dollar exchange rate to naira has continued to soar, skyrocketing. There is nothing I can do to that than to take what exists. Even our government is helpless. This is a problem for me. It may not be so for another.

The above two are light examples coming to me immediately. A problem to a person can be a challenge to another or not even any of the two. Levels in life, knowledge, skills, career, pursuits, and business can determine what constitutes problems or challenge especially challenging. That thing that was a challenge to me could be a problem to another, and to someone else, no challenge or problem at all. Imagine if I have a foreign account or a dollar domiciliary account. It wouldn’t have been a challenge.

So, we must never assume we know/understand the problems if we have not dug deep.

Problems Agog

The error many make is being too fast in concluding the understanding of the problem. Problems can have more of remote causes than immediate causes. Problems are effects, results, products, fruits, outcomes or outputs of a given set of inputs, seeds, or causes. Never take problems for granted. Solve it… solve problems. Start the resolution process fast…well and procedurally. Many problems solution can take longer time than an average person thinks or imagine. When you take a problem for granted, it may or can ground you.

Processes to Solving Problems

I want you once identified a problem, to take a deep look, meditation, and the SOLUTION to it. The first thing to a problem is problem IDENTIFICATION. The second is not solving, but that’s what most people do. An error! The second is a deep look. People don’t favour the use of this term or word, but it is a word that is called ANALYSIS. Do analysis – deep look from identified problems to causes, to facts and truths, to way out, to results indeed [output]. Third, assemble suggestions from you and others [depending on the nature of the problem]. Fourthly, sieve what you’ve collected. Fifthly, reanalyze the sieves and drop many. Sixthly, troubleshoot the one or two or three you favourably considered as the case may maybe. Seventh, plan the administration of the solution taking into cognizance Interpersonal skills, Relationship skills, Negotiating and Negotiation skills, conflict management, grievances, and discipline or people handling skills as the cases may be. Note, that not all problems require this gamut. Again, it depends on your analysis – a deep look at it OR as my uncle would say, “sleepover for the problem a night or two” [figurative: deep meditation]. Then the last, the eightieth, SOLVING THE PROBLEM i.e., SOLUTION IMPLEMENTATION.

Implications Foregoing To Leaders

The fastest way to become a people’s leader is to solve problems – solve their problems. Yes, the fastest route. Yes again, solve problems…but many attempts of solving problems do not materialize into solving problems than creating 7 times the original problems. This is seen everywhere. Very axiomatic. We see it in politics, development, the economy, medicine/pharmacy, education, etc. Check all perhaps about 80% of government policies…in an attempt of solving one problem, they create 7 or more wicked problems. Our educational system…in an attempt of making schools learner-friendly, we produce graduates that lack superior brain and intellectualism…PhDs without research discoveries/inputs. Medicals with after-effects drugs/treatments. These happen because of URGENCY [they call it jet age] to solve a problem, not going through the PROCESSES of identification, …, to solve.

Even post-problem-solving feedback is thrown away!


Never assume you understand problems when you haven’t dug deep, go through the processes of solving it to avoid “after cleaning shit and the ground will still be smelling shit, shit”.


What do you think? Make your comments, please.

Some years ago, Mike Ihezuo spoke in Problem Management Workshop [what a crazy theme, but your organization might need it, not just want it.] Do you or your organizations, club, union, or association solve problems and it seems the problems persist or the effects remain? Then, someone assumed he/she knew the problem. Better hear the Leadership expert, Dr Mike Ihezuo speaks to your people on Problem Management.  Remember, Problem Solving is a subset of the former, Problem Management, and problem-solving is the fastest way of emerging as a leader. Reach Dr fast by leadermikeo@gmail.com or click Ad Inquiry.

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Dr Mike Ihezuo

Content Creator

Mike is a leader and leader’s developer, a speaker, an author and a prolific writer, a researcher and consultant. He invests life, time, energy, resources and money to empowering organizations desiring upward dive to top performance and individuals desirous of fulfilling their destinies, discovering purpose and seeking success towards significance. Mike, as a life coach, team builder, conflict resolutions exponent, motivational maestro, negotiation experts, corporate strategist, an entrepreneur and entrepreneurial developer, invites you to this LeadershipRoundTableHQ. Let’s talk and discuss so as to learn and GROW…


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