Talk solutions not problems

Yesterday I realized I’ve made a strategic blunder.

About a year ago I began publicly acknowledging a challenge the organization I lead faces. As weeks and months passed I continued to occasionally acknowledge the challenge.

Why? Because I felt public acknowledgement let everyone know the leadership team and I accepted their frustration and it seemed compassionate.

Warning! Publicly acknowledging problems establishes, elevates, and may magnify them beyond their true significance.

The lesson I learned – Talk solutions not problems.

Publically acknowledging organizational problems or challenges is still important. It indicates awareness and expresses compassion and honesty. However, anytime leaders talk problems they must spend more time explaining solutions than outlining challenges.

Talk problems in small teams that are committed to find solutions.

Talk solutions in large groups and public venues that include outsiders, observers, critics, and the uncommitted.

In my opinion, while discussing organizational challenges, the ratio of problem-talk to solution-talk is about 25% to 75%. Spend no more than 25% of your time talking problems and at least 75% explaining strategies and solutions.


It’s a bit embarrassing to share such an obvious blunder.

I’m interested in your perspective on this thorny issue.

How do you determine when it’s time to publicly discuss an organizational challenge?

When it’s necessary to talk about organizational short-coming, talking too little may seem to minimize the issues, talking too much may magnify them.

How do leaders publicly address organizational challenges without magnifying them?