Some problems at work really seem to be tough nuts to crack. You cannot find a solution to them; they are intractable.
If you cannot find a solution, is there any other way of handling the problem? Here are a few ideas.
1. Try to find a way to dispose of it.
Problems exist within certain frameworks, and sometimes, if you get rid of the framework, you also eliminate the problem. For example, if the problem involves difficult staff members, ineffective software or bothersome policies, and you have tried to change behavior, repair the software, or improve the policy, all to no avail, one option is simply to get rid of them.
Research has shown that our brains are wired to look for solutions by adding something to the situation, rather than taking something away.
2. If you cannot get rid of it, see if you can make it smaller.
What makes one problem larger than another is the amount of risk that it involves. If you cannot deal with the cause, try to shrink the effects.
For instance, some jobs in a company might be intrinsically high stress positions, and there are high rates of burnout among people in these jobs. The cause here is the duties of the job that make it so stressful. But there may be no way of changing these duties. They have to be addressed. In this case, you can try to reduce the effect, which is the stress, by giving these people more time off, or more flexibility in their schedules, or more counseling.
3. Delegate the problem
Managers are more apt to delegate tasks than problems, but this could help as well. By delegating the problem to someone else, that person may see it from a different perspective, enabling him or her to find a solution.
4. What knowledge would make the problem less difficult.
Sometimes we cannot solve a problem simply because we don’t have the knowledge or skill needed. The task in this situation is to identify exactly what expertise is needed, so you can acquire it. The problem could be fixed if you knew what exactly?
5. Kick the can down the road
Generally, this is not the best advice. You don’t want to let problems fester. But sometimes, an immediate solution is not required, and you can let the problem alone for a time. As time goes by and the situation changes, the problem may resolve itself or a solution may become evident.