Be Your Best

The Beautiful Proble-tunity

by on Jan.27, 2016, under Blog Posts

I heard someone say “proble-tunity” the other day, and I instantly wrote it down as a great word that I needed to think about and share with others.  Proble-tunity is an absolutely jewel of a word.

The reason I love the word is that I cannot remind myself enough that problems do equal opportunities.  And in one single word, it describes a complete success mindset principle.  It is a cliché yes, but the reason it is a cliché is because it’s true virtually 100% of the time.  But it is easy to forget about this principle, as most people do — or they simply don’t see things this way.

I feel that just having a fundamental “proble-tunity” mindset creates breakthrough success at many different levels.

Problem = Opportunity = Problem-Solving = Massive Value

First, the proble-tunity mindset is extremely effective when dealing with other people in your business and personal life.  Everyone has problems occurring every day, and really almost hourly.  If it is not a small problem, it’s a big problem.  Think about it.  How many days go as planned or desired?  How many projects going ultra smoothly with no hiccups or problems?  How often are unforeseen curve balls being thrown at people?  Really, the “normal” course for just about everything is problematic in some way or potentially many ways.  So, if you are [actively] looking for proble-tunities with other people, it is a fantastic way to add or create value.  Taking other people’s problems and solving them (the bigger the better, but sometimes small nagging ones are extremely meaningful too), is a very valuable skill.  And I do use the word skill here because I do feel strongly that problem-solving is a skill that does require practice and effort to become a master at it.

Second, having a proble-tunity mindset when looking at your own problems can be tremendously valuable and fuel success.  Another way someone might describe this mindset is being “optimistic”, but I feel that having a proble-tunity mindset is fundamentally different than just having blind optimism.  To me, there is pessimistic, there is optimistic, and there is proble-tunity mindset.

Opening the Proble-tunity Black Box

Rather than just think “every problem is an opportunity” (blind optimism), when you are confronted with a problem, really step back and think about why this problem is a “problem”.  Without getting too down in the weeds technical, I like to take a page out of the Quality Systems and Six Sigma handbook when looking at a problem and do a quick 5-Why analysis of the problem (ask yourself “why” up to 5 times).  Most of us have probably been involved in Quality Corrective Action resolution at some point, where you use a 5-Why process to determine true root cause of a failure or error.

This 5-Why approach is super effective when you are looking at a problem you are facing to get at the root of the matter AND most times for me, presents an obvious solution that either resolves the problem — or better yet, actually takes the problem and turns it into something BETTER than what I had before.  This is where the magic of Proble-tunity comes into play.

The Magic of Proble-tunity

Using the 5-Why approach (and I rarely, if ever, get past 3 “Why is that?” questions before I find a clear solution or great idea), you open the black box of a problem and discover aspects of your situation that you likely never thought about before.  In other words, new doors open as a result of the problem ‘road block’, and if you go through those doors, new [better] ideas emerge as a result.

As I many times have noted, discovered, and said over my last 20 years with DEE, some of our greatest implemented new processes/systems have come as a result of an error that was made.  Now, this is a bit of a paradox situation —- you don’t want to have or create errors or failures fundamentally, but if making an error generates an incredible new idea as a result, how truly valuable was that error or problem?

The Proble-tunity System

The true KEY is that when that error, failure, or problem happens, you personally have to have the proble-tunity mindset, and more importantly a disciplined system/process in place as a result of that mindset, to analyze the problem (5-Why or other means) and achieve breakthrough solutions/ideas that truly transform problems into proble-tunities.

This all sounds like a corporate Quality System mumbo jumbo, but the fact is that individually applying this proble-tunity mindset and some basic problem-solving and root cause finding process to problems that come up for yourself and others can generate massive value. And creating massive value means success.  And who does not like success.

The Hidden Gem

To me, the true hidden gem in all of this proble-tunity stuff is identifying better ideas than what existed before the problem happened, not the ‘solving’ of the problem itself.  The solving of a problem is fine and good (that is making the problem go away, sort of going back to normal).  But the real gold nugget within the proble-tunity mindset is innovating a better, superior result because of attacking and focusing on a problem in a concerted way — and that happens because there was a problem in the first place!

I talked about the process of really analyzing a problem’s cause as a key part of the Proble-tunity mindset.  The other key ingredient is applying creativity to the solution or innovation side of this process.  Some of us struggle with that creative or brainstorming process, and I have written a White Paper specifically on the Creativity “Process/System” that can be used (like a checklist) to turn ‘non-creative’ people into highly creative innovators.  Creativity is a practiced process more so than a born-with gift.  If you would like a copy of this Creativity Process Reference Guide Report, just send an email to, use a Subject of “Creativity Process Reference Guide”, and provide your Contact/Title/Company information.

Be Your Best,
Todd D. Gifford

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