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Norton: Know the process, solve the problem

There were maybe 20 or so of us in the room. We had gathered for a small regional business meeting a few years ago. We shared strategies, stories, and came up with new ideas and identified some things that we needed to change about our businesses. Whenever we would gather for a day or two, we would usually try and build in some exercises and activities to keep it fun and engaging.

We had someone come in to teach us strategy. One of the exercises they used was trying to teach us and coach us on how to solve Rubik’s Cube. It generated a lot of laughs, some of us got it, some of us didn’t and some gave up trying. Then the owner of the business who was hosting us brought in his two young sons, and they had learned how to solve it. They came around the room offering help. It was a bit humbling.

More of us got it, a few more didn’t, and well, even a few more gave up.



The world record for solving Rubik’s Cube is 3.47 seconds. Did you catch that? 3.47 seconds. The old record was 4.22 seconds. The key to solving a problem or a puzzle is to know the system and apply the process.

As I watch some of the cooking shows, I am always amazed at the dishes that are served in such a short time frame. Five-star quality dishes created and made in sometimes as quickly as 20 minutes. The winners know the process, they have a system. They are given the ingredients, but more often than not, they must use their knowledge to know just how much of each ingredient needs to be used and for exactly how long it should be cooked.



There is a great book that has been out for a few years, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. It is an incredible book by the way, I encourage anyone looking to make a change in productivity or make improvements in life to check it out. In his book, Clear talks about goals and processes. And if given the opportunity to choose if he could only pick one, he would choose having the right process or system over a setting a goal. The goal is the destination, the process is how you get there.

In business, many companies will often talk about people, process, and technology, as the requirements and ingredients for success. The people are the business — take care of your people and they will take care of your business. Technology and innovation are necessary in any business regardless of industry. That leaves us with process. When we can give our people the right care and attention, provide them with the right skills and technology, and then couple that by teaching them the processes that will help them perform at their very best, we have a winning combination.

Show me people who disagree, and cannot get past the disagreement, and I will show you people who were never taught the process or system of effective communication. Show me a professional team that is losing by a large margin, and I will show you a team that didn’t have a way or process to stop their opponent. Show me a salesperson who lost an opportunity to a competitor, and I will show you a salesperson who didn’t align their selling process with the buyer’s decisioning journey.

It doesn’t matter if it is a puzzle, conundrum, game, business, human interaction and dynamics, sports, or sales, when we can learn to apply the right process to anything that we do, we will always increase our chances for success.

Is there a process or system that you need to learn? Is there something that you are doing where you would like to make improvements? I would love to hear your story at mnorton@xinnix.com and when we can learn to solve the conundrums and puzzles of life using a proven process, it really will be a better than good year.


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