How solving small problems helps you deliver big value

I’ve noticed a lot of teams that feel detached from the business take on work they perceive as sexy or fashionable, hoping to get recognized as valuable.

They think these BHAGs (Big, Hairy A** Goals) will show their value.

It’s a trap!

Often the team overlooks deep seated friction and structural challenges when taking on these impossible problems. Legacy debt impedes progress, turning the BHAG into a boat anchor.

We need to finish the work to deliver value.

Consider the key to delivering big value is solving smaller problems.

Embrace the power of small

Solving minor problems is a low-stakes way to explore our fear, understand friction, and work to combat the resistance we all face. When we’re working on minor challenges in short time-horizons, we can quickly reflect and make changes.

With a series of best next steps, we build confidence, competence, and capacity.

Big plays come from practicing small actions

I recall sitting in the stands at Yankee Stadium on a hot August Saturday a lifetime ago, captured by the warmup routine of the legendary shortstop Derek Jeter. He worked with two coaches on the same basic stances, positions, and field drills you can see at any Little League game.

There was nothing sexy about Derek Jeter’s warmup.

No crowd-pleasing diving plays or long throws he’s remembered for. Derek Jeter’s relentless focus on the small, routine problems a shortstop needs to handle prepared him for the big, game-changing plays he built his legacy on.

We can do the same.

What if solving small problems prepares us to solve the big problems?

“How you do anything is how you do everything.” — T. Harv Eker

As we get better at solving problems, we progress to solve bigger, harder problems. If we approach the trivial as an opportunity to develop ourselves (and our team), we prepare to handle more.

As a bonus, we might discover that most gnarly problems are a connected series (go ahead, call it a mess) of minor problems. If we learn to break the complex problems into smaller problems, we already possess the confidence to solve them.

Solving the right problems allows us to deliver value faster and earn the recognition we deserve.

Originally published at



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