The Playing to Win™ Problem Solving Method

Understanding PCIBFs

Why is this important:

'PCIBFs’ is the term I give to the obstacles that stand in the way of our success. When we are specific in categorising the different type of problems, we are one step closer to identifying the right solutions.


Read and understand the 5 different types of PCIBFs in the PDF below.

Take 100% Responsibility

Why is this important:

Everything that is not working well in your business, is your fault.

This was the mantra I stuck to when I was building my company to $300m. Think about this, when a problem arises in your company, you can blame your employees, you can blame your customers, you can blame the government, you can blame the economy, you can even blame all the 8 billion people on the planet that you have not met before in your life. But at the end of the day, after blaming everything and everyone, the problems are still there.

When you take 100% responsibility right at the start, you skip all the lay blames, justifications, excuses and emotional rollercoaster and jump straight into solving the problem.

Case Study:

Here's an example of how I took 100% responsibility, and achieved a result that many people said was outside of my control.

For many months I've been wanting to work with Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) here in Singapore and rent their venue. But, there was ONE major blocker. Their Terms & Conditions were onerous and clings on a 'Playing NOT to Lose' mindset that doesn't serve anyone except themselves. It defeats the purpose and values of the institute.

It stipulates:
“Irrespective of any other provision in this document, LLI reserves the rights to cancel any booking at any time without giving any reasons whatsoever and any refund to be made, shall be at the sole discretion of LLI."

In fact several organisations and clients I've worked with, rejected this one clause in their Terms and Conditions. Due to this clause, LLI have lost many opportunities to rent out their beautiful and professionally managed venue.

After 11 long months jumping through many hoops, multiple junior employees, a few managers, two directors and then the Executive Director himself... I finally managed to influence them to adopt a Playing to Win Mindset, and change the terms!

The new clause now says:
“Irrespective of any other provision in this document, LLI reserves the rights to cancel any booking at any time without giving any reasons whatsoever. In such instance, all payments made will be refunded and LLI shall not be liable for any expenses/losses whatsoever incurred. Alternatively, the applicant may in LLI's sole discretion be offered the option to change the date of the event, subject to availability."

Now, I could have easily said this is not my problem and find another venue provider. However in the Playing to Win™ mindset and core values, this does not sit well with me. I will have one lesser venue partner. So, instead of saying who's to blame, what can I do to take 100% responsiblity? I put this issue as a backlog with LLI to solve over a period of 11 months until we achieve a win-win solution.
Brain Dump Your PCIBFs

Why is this important:

Now you're ready to start listing down the PCIBFs that are holding your business back!


1. Click on the icon under the "Resources" section below to open the "Cost Clarity Calculator" Google Sheet.

2. Make a copy to your own Google Drive so you can make edits to the Google Sheet.

3. Navigate to the tab titled "Part 1"

4. Fill in the table on this sheet. For each category of PCIBF, list down 2 problems that come to mind, that you're currently facing in your business. Refer to the PDF in Step #1 if you need a refresher of the definition of each PCIBF.

5. Rate each PCIBF from 1 - 10 based on how painful and critical they are to your business, with 10 being the most painful.

Make It S.M.A.R.T.

Why is this important:

Defining your problem statement to be ultra-specific is a big step towards finding a solution. Oftentimes, when I challenge business owners to define their problems 'S.M.A.R.T.-ly', the solution starts to appear by itself.


1. Click on the icon below to view the definition of S.M.A.R.T.

2. Next, open your copy of the "PCIBF Calculator" Google Sheet, and navigate to the tab titled "Part 2"

3. For each problem that you listed in the previous step, apply S.M.A.R.T. and rewrite it. Challenge yourself to be as specific as you can be - refer to the example statement for direction.

Categorise Your PCIBFs

Why is this important:

It's important for you to understand the type of impact each PCIBF has on your business before you could properly quantify it.

To make it easier for you to categorise the impact, I am going to limit this exercise to just 2 categories:

1. Loss in Productivity: the PCIBF is causing our internal teams and employees to produce less than 80% of the output that the company is capable of producing.

2. Loss of Opportunities: there are opportunities available for the business to capture, however the PCIBF is causing us to be UNABLE to capture ALL the opportunities available.


1. Return to your copy of the "PCIBF Calculator" Google Sheet, and navigate to the tab titled "Part 3"

2. For each problem that you listed, simply identify which of the two categories they fit under. Then, under the column titled 'Category of Impact', select the respective category in the dropdown menu.
Quantify Your PCIBFs

Why is this important:

This is the final step where we uncover the full financial cost that each PCIBF is inflicting to your business. Once these are properly attributed, the priorities of which problems to solve first become painfully clear!


1. In your Google Sheet, navigate to tab "Part 4". Here, we will calculate your company's average salary per hour. Simply fill in your employees titles and monthly gross salaries in the table, and the formula automatically works out the hourly average.

2. Next, navigate to tab "Part 5". Here, we identify the productivity cost of each PCIBF. Follow the instructions at the top of the sheet carefully and fill in the relevant 2 columns.

3. Finally, navigate to tab "Part 6". For the remaining PCIBFs, we identify how each of them has caused lost opportunities and revenue. Follow the instructions at the top of the sheet carefully to fill in the relevant columns.
Next Best Actions

Why is this important:

Finally, we end up with a one-pager document of your top PCIBFs and the total financial cost. Does the number surprise you? This summary gives you extreme clarity on which problems you need to start solving first.


1. Print or Screenshot this page and keep it at your desk, to remind you of the cost of these PCIBFs to your company every year if you do nothing to resolve them.

2. Then, decide to take action!

3. Refer to the guiding questions to reflect and start the process of identifying solutions.

4. Identify the next best action - and do it!