A friend used to drink at least eight cups of coffee a day. When his family went to bed at night, he couldn’t sleep and would stay up until the wee small hours. He took medication for his insomnia, which left him groggy in the morning. Coffee woke him up and made him feel better. When he didn’t have access to many cups of coffee upon waking, he would get excruciating headaches.
When he talked about his sleep problems, his friends would quietly suggest that the coffee might be the problem. But he knew that coffee made him feel better so that couldn’t be it. His wife, concerned about his health and the sleeping pills started suggesting and then insisting it was the coffee. After years of loving nagging, he decided to go cold turkey to prove to her and everyone else that coffee wasn’t the problem.
He decided to eliminate coffee and caffeine for three weeks. Almost immediately, he started to feel symptoms that were not pretty, and for two weeks, he battled massive headaches and flu-like symptoms. But then he began to feel much, much better. The persistent headache went away, and soon, he started sleeping. It was the coffee, after all.
Sometimes we wrestle with big, hairy strategic problems and we can’t see that it is the coffee. We get so mired in our problem we can no longer see it clearly. It may take a fresh set of outside eyes to identify what is going on.
How do you know when to find outside eyes? When you’ve got a problem that has been unsolved for years. Or when you’ve tried many solutions, but none have worked.
Perhaps a fresh set of eyes can give you new ways to think about your giant hairball of a business problem.