The Problem with Problems

Regulatory Matters

Getting to a concise and clear statement of an issue is critical in forming a comprehensive response.

Since our last chat, the NATA Regulatory Affairs team has been hard at work on your behalf on everything from FAA Reauthorization input to responses to TSA’s Emergency Amendment for the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program and Employee Vetting and Passenger Pre-Screening (AEPV), CBP’s eAPIS NPRM – Advance Passenger Information System, DOT’s Public Charters Docket No. DOT-OST-2016-0023, FAA’s Powered Lift SFAR, and DOD’s Special Use Airspace. We have also had opportunities to get member input at our recent events including the Business Aviation Roundtable held in Wadsworth, Ohio, the Day on the Hill and Air Charter Summit in Washington, DC, and the Aircraft Operations and Dry Leasing Insurance Summit in Dallas, TX. With all these competing interests and corresponding demands on our time, getting to a concise and clear statement of an issue is critical in forming a comprehensive response. So, what is your problem? Have you ever been asked this question in a sincere way and struggled to define the problem you are experiencing? Many of us have been in this predicament and were frustrated by trying to pinpoint the actual problem. Oh, we can certainly describe our emotions because of “the problem,” and yet trying to put the problem in a clear, coherent, concise statement eludes us.

The ability to describe the specifics of the problem leads to a solution, potential solutions, or even a resolution much faster. The first step in any problem-solving model is to define the problem. Entire books are devoted to this subject and here we want to focus on why it is important to first be clear and in agreement with a problem statement prior to moving forward with any additional steps in the problem-solving method you may use.

Associations are built on teams and teams are purpose built to resolve complex problems that impact members of a group. Teams that jump ahead to solutions prior to agreement on the shared problem often experience possible unintended consequences, wasted time, and frustration due to an unresolved problem. The military describes it as “ready, fire, aim.” One of my favorite sayings is to “go slow to go fast,” meaning the time you take now to fully explore a problem will save you time, resources, and effort later.

So, how do I clearly and concisely describe a problem in a methodical and repeatable way? One way is to use the five Ws and skip the H. In other words, describe the Who, Where, What, When, and Why without jumping into the How. Ask: Who is affected by these issues or situations? What is happening as a result? Where and when is it happening? Why are these things happening? For a quick lesson in writing Problem Statements read the BetterUp blog article entitled “Effective problem statements have these 5 components,” written by Madeline Miles.
Remember, a clear problem statement builds the foundation for future problem-solving success. To that end, NATA is reviewing and updating its Committee Handbook and will be training our NATA Team Members to ensure our facilitation skills are enhanced so we can assist each committee in clearly and concisely describing the problems that impact our industries.

Please keep your feedback coming our way so we maintain focus where you think we can accomplish the most for our industry. We will also be hosting two additional Business Aviation Roundtables this year to take advantage of face to face communications and discussion. Thank you for your time and attention and helping to make “Regulatory Matters” a success.

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Welcome to the Aviation Business Journal, the official publication of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).

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