Avoid the XY Problem

xyHere at Spitfire Management, we love to listen to our clients’ needs. It’s the first step in a process: first listen, then address the need, and finally write a “You asked for It, You Got It” article for our client newsletter! But, sometimes, what we hear is very muddled because of the XY Problem.

Concisely put, the XY Problem syndrome is when people talk about their attempted solution rather than the actual business need. That is to say, there is an initial problem (X), and the person who tries to fix that problem thinks of a solution (Y), but then runs into a problem with that solution so seeks help from someone else by asking about how to make that solution work instead of asking about the original problem.

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