The Real Problem


The real problem is people who point out problems from a distance. They sit aloof explaining what’s wrong. Worse yet, they know what others should do, or not do, while they do nothing, except point out what’s wrong.

The real problem is listening to uninvited problem solvers who don’t have skin in the game. Knowing what others should do without doing anything yourself is a fools paradise.

The real problem is undefined wins. The next time someone tries solving a problem from a distance ask them to define the win. Say, “What does it look like if this problem is solved?” Smile while they stutter and stammer. But, don’t solve their confusion. Usually they just want something to stop.

The real problem is neglecting the first questions of problem solving.

  1. What is the win? What does it look like if we fix this?
  2. What is blocking the win?
  3. Does this problem matter? In other words, does solving this problem improve things significantly?
  4. What does improvement look like? Forget about perfectly solving anything. Focus on improvement.
  5. What are you prepared to do? The most important issue isn’t out there. It’s in you. What are you willing to invest?

The real solution is getting your hands dirty with teammates who are already dirty. Get in there and start shoveling some mud. It’s funny how things change when you leave the sidelines and enter the arena.

Real leaders design and implement solutions with others. Any fool can see what isn’t working and offer suggestions from a distance.  The next time you hear yourself whining about problems, ask, “What am I willing to invest in solving this?” If the answer is nothing, close your mouth and get back to work.

The real problem is thinking problems are solved from a distance.

How do you deal with the tendency to point out problems from a distance?