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Wyoming Business Tips for March 22-March 28

March 17, 2009

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Anya Petersen-Frey, Region 6 director

"How can a business owner become a better decision maker and problem solver?" Mark, Cheyenne

In the business world, especially in the current challenging environment, there is state of constant change. Business owners, as well as employees, are bombarded with a huge volume of information every day. To be effective in any job, it is important to find techniques to help assimilate and utilize this daily barrage of data.

As you become more successful in business endeavors, skills such as problem solving and information gathering can be key to maintaining an edge in a competitive environment. Honing these skills is an ongoing process of self-improvement.

Problem solving is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. What are the options? How can you be sure the best decision is being made? Visit the Web site,which offers tools to improve techniques for retaining information and problem solving along with project management and decision making.

One tool suggested by is the "So what?" approach. Also called "appreciation," this simple technique seeks to draw out the maximum amount of information from a basic fact.

Starting with a fact, ask the question "So what?" What are the implications of that fact? Keep asking that question until all possible inferences have been drawn.

The following example of this technique is offered on the Mindtools site:

So what? Appreciation is a technique used by military planners, so we will take a military example.

Fact: It rained heavily last night.

So what?

The ground will be wet.

So what?

It will turn into mud quickly.

So what?

If many troops and vehicles pass over the same ground, movement will be progressively slower and more difficult as the ground gets muddier and more difficult.

So what?

Where possible, stick to paved roads. Otherwise expect movement to be much slower than normal.

While it would be possible to reach this conclusion without the use of a formal technique, appreciation provides a framework in which you can focus on the information needed quickly, effectively and reliably.

Advancing in your career, you will face complex and difficult challenges. Some may be extensive and involve the coordination of many different people, the completion of many tasks and the expenditure of a great deal of time and money. Teaching yourself to improve how you gather information or solve problems may be the small step that keeps you ahead of the competition.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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