Aspirin for Aneurysms
Aspirin for aneurysms won’t help much. Poorly solved problems return and multiply when pain goes away.
The good thing about pain is it motivates our search for solutions. The bad thing about the absence of pain is wrongly thinking problems are solved when they aren’t.
Pain drives us toward inadequate solutions
when the goal is making pain stop.
The absence of pain doesn’t indicate the absence of problems.
Pain is bad when we:
- Focus on making pain stop.
- Solve surface issues.
- Neglect systemic issues.
Neglecting systemic issues creates cycles of failure – pain – surface solutions – failure …
Pain is good when we:
- Look for root causes.
- Avoid blame and seek solutions.
- Think long-term rather than quick fix.
Chronic pain-points call for system-solutions. More importantly, maximizing strengths and capitalizing on opportunities demands system thinking. Success calls for:
- Communication systems.
- Accountability systems.
- Transparency systems.
- Leadership development systems.
- Problem solving and conflict resolution systems.
Think of systems as:
- Repeated behaviors.
- Pre-determined behaviors designed for specific situations. You know what to do before it happens.
- Pathways to success.
- Confidence builders.
- Clarity creators.
The danger of systems is complexity and oppression. Systems, however, can be as simple as asking the same questions at the beginning of weekly team meetings. For example:
- What are this week’s greatest opportunities?
- How will we capitalize on our greatest opportunities?
- Who’s the champion of this opportunity?
- How do we know we’re winning?
Systems could be check lists or standard operating procedures (SOP’s).
The path toward exponential success is paved with systems. Without systems you’ll fall into the cycle of failure – pain – surface solutions.
More on the power of systems: “Thriving Through Processes.”
What systems have been most useful for you or your organization?
Where would systems be most helpful to you or your organization?
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Many wait until the pain is unbearable to seek a solution.
Looking for the answer to a problem when you’re at your lowest point is not a good idea. You’re at your weakest point and your thought processes are not as sharp as they should be. So, you might not make the best choices.
I wrote a post about it here: http://endgamebusiness.com/blog/why-wait-till-it-hurts/
Thanks for sharing your insights and an added resource.
Best wishes for your success,
We have just begun our “Lean” journey and are quickly learning that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” (DaVinci) Systems are important but to investigate and “root” out problems one must break them down to their most minute forms. Of course before embarking on the “analysis” road one must ensure that you work in a “blameless” organization. CEOs when asked what percentage of failures were truly blameworthy answered 2-5%. When asked how many were treated as blameworthy the response was a whopping 50-70%. Systems and Process reviews are most effective when all of the stakeholders are involved and they all won’t be unless they feel they work in a “safe community” and that environment can only be created by “trustworthy” leadership. Amy Edmondson HBR wrote a whole section on “failure” and the spectrum it encompasses. There are few blameworthy failures such as an employee deviating from established policies but most fall in the “blameless” category and in fact “intelligent” failures are the modus operandi of scientists. Eli Lilly apparently would have “failure parties” which encouraged investigators to fail often and quickly so they could move on to the next discovery. Eli Lilly saved hundreds of thousands by encouraging their staff to not linger and pursue what was not successful and promoting them to move forward and spend their time on other potential “wins.”
We recently had our yearly awards ceremony and I posed the question to our staff of how many felt we were a “blame-free” organization. I was surprised to see that not many hands went up. The executive team took note and will pursue a campaign alongside our “Lean” process to instill blame-free atitudes starting with our Board.
Thanks for the post Dan, this one is a keeper which I plan to share with leadership and our Board.
It’s a pleasure seeing your comment. I think of you every day and love reading your insights.
Blame is such a subtle thing. Thanks for bringing it up. Perhaps one of the challenges is there are two involved in blame… the one who may or may not be doing it and the one who feels it.
I’m not suggesting we should ignore those who feel they may be blamed or belittle their feelings. I’m just thinking it can be a challenging topic to address.
Love the Eli Lilly story… celebrating failure…having a failure response policy… seems like it would be helpful.
You have my best,
I remember a time when our business unit did not return the most positive results on our employee survey. Our sister company, however, returned results that told us the employees were satisfied and happy.
Here’s the rub: that sister company was not profitable while our business unit was very profitable.
Sometimes, dissatisfaction (pain) is the motor of creativity. And creativity and lateral thinking are required to ferret out the source of the problem and solve at the source.
This taught me to ask better questions in employee surveys 🙂 . It also taught me to spring-board from the dissatisfaction of others, use their particular insight to find the problems and solve them, one at a time.
Today, although I am no longer with that business unit, I hear they remain successful, and employees are very proud of their accomplishments, even as they continue to feel pain from (new) unresovled problems!
Succinct and inspirational. I had just nominated you for the Most Inspiring Blogger Award. http://marionretires.wordpress.com/
I see a close connection among pain, system and solutions. Pain creates need to create system. The system depends upon the kind of pain. Short pain creates in-systemic system whereas long pain creates systemic system.It clearly shows that pain is essential to create solution, system or opportunities. It applies to people, organizations and enterprises. I think, the system that clarifies and promotes transparency have been most useful in the organization. Where there are vague information, unwritten rules, there exists lot of unhealthy systemic problems.
System would be most helpful when it makes people accountable more on top level and less on bottom level. Disposal of accountability plays great role to set example for organizational future.
Thanks for the great explanation of systems. It helps to put the concept of systems into definable pieces.
If we look at systems as repeated behaviours, it seems that we all have systems; some are just more functional than others.