What’s Your Problem?

No, seriously. What needs to change in your business?
The way you frame your answer matters more than you think.


You can describe the need for change as a problem to solve, a challenge to address, or an issue to fix. Consider this example from a global distributor:

Ex: Consolidating parts suppliers can reduce the time spent checking and ordering
inventory monthly.

  • Changes can lessen or eliminate the pain your company is experiencing. In this case, change (consolidating parts suppliers) can eliminate wasted time.
  • You can also discuss change as the improvement required to achieve a goal. Consider the same example rephrased to focus on the positive outcomes of change: Ex: Consolidating parts suppliers can make your assembly line faster and more efficient, allowing your company to produce and sell more products.


The same goes for the way you define problems.

  • Is the assembly line the problem?
  • Is the way your employees spend their time the problem?
  • Or is the need to produce and sell more products the problem?

The problem you decide needs to be addressed impacts how you search for a solution. If your focus is producing and selling more parts, you may never consider changing or consolidating parts suppliers.

And what if that problem is really just a surface-level symptom of something bigger or more foundational?


Causes are similar. You can find several causes for any complex business challenge. But which is the root cause? Which should you change? Which change will address the root cause in a way that solves your problem? And which changes are the medicine for your symptoms?

We’ve spent hundreds of workshop hours asking clients the five whys in order to uncover the root cause of their barriers to growth.

Here’s an example of a B2B company having difficulty achieving organic sales growth.

There it is in five simple steps.

Core Problem: Ineffective approach to brand awareness and lead generation

Symptoms: Poor/Unqualified leads; underperforming sales; competing on cost;
unable to differentiate

Root Cause: Lack of marketing leadership and implementation of an effective strategy

Change/Solution: Hire an experienced marketing leader with a proven track record of
success in this situation.

Wrong Turns: Having a presence on social media; Attending more trade shows;
Hiring more inside sales staff; Redesigning sales collateral; Doing more of the same

Mid-market companies are stuck. What they’re doing isn’t working. They need to change.

Unfortunately, too many executives think they know what their problem is when they’ve really only identified a symptom—an indication—a sign—a red flag.

Poor sales aren’t the problem. Lagging sales are a symptom of being unable to get in front of the right people with the right message at the right time and in the right place.

Getting Unstuck

The 5 Whys workshop exercise forces leaders to think differently about what changes they need to make in order to see better results–like more effective ads, sales-qualified leads, messaging that gets noticed, and wider brand awareness–all of which is how companies do generate new business.

Creating more effective ads and writing more compelling messaging are just a few tactical ways your company can get better at attracting the right customers. But, for those changes to work–for you to do better, and not just more–you’ll have to start doing things differently.

So, what’s the problem? What’s the root cause? What needs to change? And what’s stopping you?

Contact Dayna Kramer to discuss which Red Caffeine workshop is right for you.

Bill Skowronski

Content Director

Meet The Author

I’m a staunch defender of intentional strategy, return on improvement and outcomes over outputs as a model for better marketing, rather than more of the same. As a former journalist and a student of Philosophy, I’m a question asker and a deep thinker. That’s why I know what content moves people from awareness to action—and I’m not afraid to use it.

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