Business & Leadership Behaviors Project Management Thoughts

Challenges, Problems & Upsides

Somewhere along the way, I came to an understanding of the difference between a challenge and a problem.  In my mind, a challenge is an issue that has one or more solutions.  The solutions may be difficult and really undesirable, but they are still a solution.  For example, transmission problems, water in the basement, etc. are challenges that can be solved a few different ways – but money is typically (painfully) involved in the solution.

TS Elliot Quote - ChallengesA problem, on the other hand, is when you are facing a situation and there is no solution.  There is only acceptance.

Between setting goals for the year and all of the events going on in the world, I find myself digging down to what’s really important to me and how I’m spending my time – personally and professionally.  I’m also reminding myself of the difference between problems and challenges.

The reality is that we all face these every day.  It’s how we handle these challenges and problems that makes the difference for ourselves and for our teams.


Not to go all Pollyanna on you, but I think that there are some positive aspects of challenges to consider.

Challenges can:

Refine the Vision

Did I run into this situation because I was focusing on the actual problem – or was I fixated on a symptom? Determining what a problem truly is can broaden your vision of what you’re trying to accomplish.  It can also shed light on any misguided focus of efforts if you hadn’t quite dug down to defining the actual problem.

Strengthen Your ResolveRay Davis Challenge Quote

Is what I’m investing in worth it? Do the results outweigh this challenge?  As you are moving through a project or situation or whatever – are you measuring your investment vs. your outcome.  Things change ALL. THE. TIME.  By reviewing the Why behind what you’re doing – you will remind yourself why you got started in the first place – and likely strengthen your resolve to move forward.

Improve Results

Life doesn’t exist on a happy path. You need to be able to navigate the exceptions.  Finding those exceptions and issues can be the best thing that can happen when you are creating something new.

Issues (and their potential upsides) come into our work lives as much as our personal ones.  I see our clients (and our team) navigating these hurdles and benefits all the time – and often across multiple phases in an initiative.

Roger Crawford Quote

The Asset Inventory Challenge

Our clients usually come to us when they are in that challenge definition phase.  They’ve identified a situation (or at least some symptoms).  Maybe they don’t trust the asset data collected during the last inventory.  Maybe they are having a hard time finding their assets – much less inventorying them.  They know that things aren’t right.  But they may not be entirely certain of what the problem truly is – much less the solution options that they may have to resolve it.



This is where we can begin to offer help.  We start with refining that vision to sort out the problem from the symptoms.  As we do this, we can determine if our mobilePLUS solution can help.  Or we can work with them to see if there are other ways or phased approaches that they can use to address what’s happening.


As we go through this process, the WHY behind the initiative often becomes very clear.  There’s a loss of time, money or other opportunity costs are motivations that generally top the list.  Changing security policies are also motivating tighter tracking too.  It varies, but these are the most common motivators.

ResultsSteven Spielberg Quote

It doesn’t matter how well you plan or prepare or refine processes, there will always be exceptions and obstacles.  The beauty of these is that their appearance along the way increases the likelihood that your solution users will not have to address them – or will have been provided a way to navigate them.  In the end, you have a better result.



My hope for you and your team is that the issues that you face are more Challenges than Problems.  And if they center around your fixed assets, contact us.  Together we can determine what might be the next best steps moving forward.