Puzzles and First Principles

Puzzles and problem solving

As originally published by Partner & COO Christopher Powell Jones:

Since I was young, I’ve always loved solving problems. I prefer attempting the impossible, addressing the unanswerable, and slaying dragons to eating dessert. When I was little, my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I would be a management consultant. In what area of expertise, I didn’t then know, but the pull of the world’s mysteries and challenges was something I couldn’t resist.  

As Chief Problem Solver for Secure Records Solutions, my penchant for solving complex problems has grown, and there is no shortage of problems to solve! In our industry, complexity comes in many forms. The volume and geography of a given set of records, the client’s specific access needs, their retention policy – these variables work together to create nuanced problems that challenge me to be my most clever self. Over the years I’ve developed a set of three first principles that guide our team at Secure Records Solutions to help our clients solve complex problems.  

First, there is always a solution. No matter the ugliness of the problem, we have faith there is a solution. I was always inspired by the line from Alice in Wonderland: “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” It strikes me as a challenge to allow your imagination the freedom to roam, and not to immediately discount the ideas you encounter. We give ourselves license to be creative, and while solutions might have found very good hiding places, we know they are out there – and don’t stop until we find them. This attitude keeps us in the fight. 

Second, we seek solutions that benefit everyone involved. Life isn’t a zero-sum game. Like any savvy business, we don’t engage in unprofitable exercises. It’s just as important, however, that we don’t move forward with solutions that don’t benefit all the other stakeholders, too. If we can’t see clear benefit to all concerned parties, we keep looking until we find a solution that does. 

We’ve all been asked, “How does one eat an elephant?” And know that such a feat is accomplished “one bite at a time,” but we often forget how this applies to the complex problems we are faced with daily. That’s the third principle – split the problem into bite-sized pieces

That reminds me of a recent getaway to the mountains with my boss, Betsy, and our two daughters. One clear evening, I sat on the front porch with my four-year-old, Sophie, working on a puzzle. Solving puzzles is something we’ve enjoyed since she was old enough to help hide the last piece, but this puzzle represented a new level of complexity. It was larger and divided into a greater number of pieces than any she had encountered, by a factor of 10.  

The box (and completed puzzle) featured a series of small retro travel postcards from around the world displayed atop a solid background. As we gazed at this intimidating pile of pieces, I suggested that we could sort the puzzle pieces according to the individual scene they corresponded to, allowing us to solve the larger puzzle one “scene” at a time. Throughout the week, we returned to the puzzle each evening, working through our strategy of completing the puzzle in parts. By the end of our week in the mountains, Sophie had proudly pieced together her most advanced puzzle yet.  

While it’s no competition for porch time with Sophie, there’s nothing in my professional life more gratifying than solving a client’s complex document management puzzle. When I’ve helped a client achieve the best solution for their business, while reducing their cost, and growing our team’s capacity to solve the next problem that comes our way, I’m not working – I’m having fun. 

Partner & COO,
Christopher Powell Jones


Our Latest Consulting Insights

Retention policies

Are You Ready to Become an Expert on Retention Policies?

Retention. For many, just the word itself induces a slight feeling of panic. Retention policies are complex, standards are unclear, and breaches come with serious costs. Whether you’re creating, implementing, or enforcing a retention policy, it’s a big job.   Thus, the reason for this series. […]

Read More

Document shredding

How Scheduled Shredding Helps Tifton Area Businesses Stay Compliant

No matter the industry, all business owners know that their records management practices must adhere to compliance requirements specific to their industry. Compliance requirements dictate how records are stored and for how long, making them an important factor in all records management plans. Partnering with […]

Read More

Earth day, long leaf pines, invest in our earth

Secure Records Solutions Commitment to Sustainability

At Secure Records Solutions, we understand our clients care about the sustainability of the solutions we provide. For us, sustainability is not a catch phrase. It’s an expression of who we are. Every day we work to improve the lives of others, while providing sustainable […]

Read More

Outsourcing Document Management Keeps Car Retailers FTC Compliant

How Outsourcing Document Management Keeps Car Retailers FTC Compliant

Automotive industry retailers know that staying in compliance with Federal Trade Commission Guidelines is a key feature of doing business. One of the most important steps to ensuring constant compliance with FTC guidelines is employing an effective document management system.   Automotive industry retailers, whether in […]

Read More

Puzzles and problem solving

Puzzles and First Principles

As originally published by Partner & COO Christopher Powell Jones: Since I was young, I’ve always loved solving problems. I prefer attempting the impossible, addressing the unanswerable, and slaying dragons to eating dessert. When I was little, my mother asked me what I wanted to […]

Read More

The papers stacked waiting to be scanned. Desktop scanner. In-house scanner. Document scanning.

Are You Still Using a Desktop Scanner?

Desktop scanners are like most pieces of everyday office equipment: If you’re thinking about them at all, it’s probably because you’re dissatisfied with their performance. While it’s true that desktop scanners can be useful and even thrive in the right applications, a growing business can […]

Read More

Fortune 500 company employees walking

Do Fortune 500 Companies Outsource Their Document Management?

For businesses everywhere, a tried-and-true strategy for inciting growth is by emulating the greats. Companies like those who make up the Forbes 500 set the standards in the industry for best practices, and we can all learn something from their successful habits.   When it comes […]

Read More

Happy Holidays From Secure Records Solutions

Happy Holidays from Secure Records Solutions

Dear Friends, There is a consistent crisp in the air, and I’m starting to see holiday window displays go up. I have more excuses than usual to gather with friends. These signals bring to mind warm memories of the past, while ushering in a busy […]

Read More