Have you heard yourself or someone else saying things like;

• How did this happen?
• We need a solution and fast.
• There has to be an easier way.
• I don’t have time to fit XYZ.
• We need help!

For each of these, it is obvious that there is a problem which needs to be solved.

Some problems may seem big and others small but size is irrelevant. It is the consequence of the problem that matters.

Sometimes what is perceived as a big problem can be solved simply therefore not a bad as first thought. Other times the problems are perceived as minimal but neglect of these can lead to a cancerous result through an organisation.

Where ever there is a problem there is a gap.

And gaps are always going to appear because change will always happen.

There is a problem with gaps; how they are filled!

Now there are numerous options from which to choose from to fill a gap but the most common ones in today’s way of doing things, is the ‘band-aid’ fix…the short-term solution that is not sustainable for the healthy, wealth and sustainability of an organisation.
Take hunger for example: When you’re hungry, you eat, but the quality of the food will determine the sustainability of your health. If you eat chocolate to fill the hunger rather than taking time to make and eat a sustainable meal, then expect to be hungry again soon. The chocolate may have been great in the moment but it won’t do your health any good if it is all you eat.

The same goes for your business.

What is needed here is systems thinking which determines the sustainability of any organisation or business because if the gap (hunger) is covered with a band-aid fix (chocolate), then the gap is going to reappear, and usually it will be worse than the first time and therefore the sustainability of your business (health) is at risk.

So, the solution requires some restraint to NOT jump at the most convenient option without due consideration.

In fact, it needs a thinking that can see the whole picture and the parts which includes how the gaps can be filled for the best overall results.

The trap that many decision makers fall into is that they focus totally on the outcome and the quickest result. This is when the gap becomes the problem.

How do you find the sustainable gap filler so it doesn’t become the problem?

  1. The most important first step is to recognise where the gap is in the whole of the organisation…what is its impact? How do you know this?
  2. Then you need to ask…where specifically is the gap showing up? How do you know this?
  3. Look again at where the gap is showing up and ask…why it is there?
  4. With your response to Q4, it’s time to ask…why again and repeat at least three more times to make sure you are getting to the root cause of the gap, and not stopping at the first assumption.
  5. Now that you have reached the root cause in the specific part of the organisation, it is time to investigate solutions and that starts with asking…what is the INTENTION here?
  6. Then ask, with the intention in mind…what is the OUTCOME? Do not rush to the outcome without connecting with the intention.
  7. Now design the PROCESS to fill the gap and take the action required to fill it.

You will know you have a sustainable solution when filling the gap benefits the WHOLE organisation – it’s culture, systems and people.

NOTE: The bigger the organisation, the less likely the solution to filling the gap sustainably can be done by only one person.

Sustainable gap filling needs a team; an advisor; a mentor; someone who can be a sounding board, who can help challenge quick response of outcome first and remind those involved to start with intention.

Diane Gray
Culture, Systems People

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