Feel like you’re constantly going from one fire to the next?

Ever get to the end of the day (or week even) and wonder what on earth you’ve been doing? (Other than running around like crazy trying not to go backwards.)

This seems to be an increasingly common state that all of us find ourselves in some of the time, and some of us find ourselves in all of the time.  So what can we do about it?

Well, there are quite a few points here.  First let’s examine motivation.  Do you enjoy this on some level?  Are you a bit of an adrenaline junky, thriving on the high-octane chaos?  Or are you a rescuer, who gets a buzz from being the only one who can sort things out?  (Does this make you feel needed?)

These are uncomfortable questions, and not easy ones to answer.  But it is worth considering whether you might be complicit in fueling these fires, because on some level you enjoy putting them out. If this is the case, then it must be worth a deep examination of whether the upside of these positive feelings really outweighs lack of progress/profitability/satisfaction that these fires cause.

If you really, don’t want to be in this situation then there’s only one solution which I’ve come across, and it’s not a quick fix I’m afraid.  You have to stop going from one fire to the next and you have to pause at the end of each issue to “Think Things Through To Completion.” This TTTTC (for short) approach should be a mantra in business.  What does it mean in practice?

Once you have solved a problem.  Stop and ask yourself a series of relevant questions. (The following is not exhaustive, as it depends on the situation, but you’ll get the idea.)


  • What can I do to stop this particular fire flaring up again? Does someone need coaching, training, firing?  Prevention is better than cure!


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  • Should I have got involved at all?


  • Having got involved, did I accept/take over the problem from other people, or did I do everything to encourage them to reach their own solutions?Did I encourage an “I intend to” mentality in my staff?


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  • Are there systemic problems that caused/exacerbated this issue? (Communication between departments, IT issues etc.)


Click on this link if you would like to consider how communication flows between departments in more detail


  • Whilst we’re at it, are there similar problems to this one that arise which we could pre-emptively address at the same time?


This will be painful, as it is more time consuming than cracking on with the next problem to solve.  However it will save time in the long run compared to putting out the same fire every few months for the rest of your time in post.