Play business like Sudoku to solve your challanges


It becomes much easier to take on challenges in your business when you do it like you would in playing a game of Sudoku!” Clearly define your goals; answer the obvious questions first then move on to the more complex; and be patient in looking for the solution.


sudokuChristoff Oosthuysen is the resident business coach on Randall Abrahams’ weekly radio show, Point of View. Here is another of the weekly BizTips…

It happens often in business that you face a situation where there are some serious challenges to overcome, but you are stuck and do not see where you’ll find the solution. You know you must do something and you are looking where to make changes, but you can just not find the right solution.

If this applies to you, then listen up because in managing my own business and in giving other entrepreneurs advice, I’ve realised that you can easily remain stuck just because you’re looking for the answer in the wrong place.

That is why my advice today is to play the game of business like you do with a puzzle.

I love Sudoku as much as a love playing the business game, so for me thinking of my business challenges in this way makes it possible to find solutions without going into panic-mode.

The first point of advice
is that you must see business as a game, or a kind of a “riddle” or, like with Sudoku, a puzzle, that can be solved if you organise the clues in the right way. The answer is there in front of you if the rules and goals are clearly defined.

In the case of Sudoku, the goal and rules are described in just on line, namely: Fill in all the blank cells, so that each row, column and 3×3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9.

To solve your business challenge, ask yourself this question: What is the simplest way I can describe my current goal and what are the most important rules guiding me right now? You can write this down and then ask yourself how you can simplify the goal and rules even more. Repeat this until you have a very clear description of what it is you want to achieve.

In seeing business as a game you can also relax a bit into enjoying what is in front of you. You play a game such as Sudoku to have fun, and the same with business – you are in business to solve the puzzle and to enjoy doing so!

My second point of advice
is that you must first answer the obvious questions, then move on to the more complex issues. In Sudoku you can quickly fill in the first few numbers by following basic short-cuts, which some game experts have terms for such as “Locked Candidates” and “Naked Pairs”.

The same applies to business. Go find out about the ways others have gone about overcoming similar issues. Many people have written about it and have given their “tricks” names. Do, for instance, an Internet search, and you’re bound to get many tips on the questions you are asking yourself.

Then, with the basic answers in place, you have increased the number of clues to answer the more complex questions, just like you do when filling in the easy numbers in the puzzle. With more clues in place, you can answer more complex questions.

And then, my third and last point of advice is to be patient in getting to the solution.

When you’ve played Sudoku for a while you know when you start, you get a few numbers quickly. But then the answers dry up. You have to patiently explore options… focus at different places and explore scenarios… then, eventually you get just one more number down, and it unlocks a whole lot of more answers. And then you get stuck again, and have to repeat the process of slowly and patiently looking for the next answer that will unlock the solution to the whole puzzle.

Well, the same applies to your business? You have to patiently look for the next answer. Look at the obvious places, then look at the less obvious places, then look again at the obvious places but with a different mindset. Keep asking what you can improve. Be patient until the answers emerge…

So, to summarise, my advice is that you play the game of business like you would play a puzzle game:

  • Define your current and most important goal clearly so that the answer can be found.
  • Answer the obvious questions first, then move on to the more complex issues.
  • And, be patient in looking for the solution.

Remember, the success of your business depends on YOU.  Play the business game like you would a puzzle!

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