Receiving the 12 Gifts of Problems
Successful leaders run toward problems, not away. If you want to lead, solve a problem, the bigger the better.
Problems come bearing gifts, if you can receive them.
Handled well, problems:
- Strengthen connections.
- Intensify focus.
- Enhance vulnerability.
- Fuel urgency.
- Clarify responsibility.
- Increase opportunity.
- Instigate growth.
- Disrupt status quo.
- Extend skills.
- Develop character.
- Amplify self-reflection.
- Grow capacity.
Problem-solving is creating the future. Handled poorly, problems distract, defeat, and, eventually destroy.
Tomorrow is revealed in the way you solve problems today.
The first problem many leaders face is slowing down enough to define the real problem. Take a walk. Sleep on it. (See input from Facebook fans.)
Don’t solve it before defining it.
Stay curious longer than necessary.
7 layers that obscure real problems:
Real solutions are hidden under seven layers.
- Assumptions about the problem.
- Feelings about people close to the problem.
- Expanding drama.
- Expectations of higher ups, colleagues, and customers.
- Wishing for more resources.
- Solving peripheral issues.
- Incomplete solutions that feel complete.
The danger of problems is distraction.
- What are we doing to make the world better?
- What do we hope to do in the future?
- Why is our mission important?
Solve problems with mission, vision, and values in mind.
- Is it really worth it? Don’t solve it.
- Is there a better way to achieve objectives? Let go the old.
- Who needs to be involved? People questions are priority questions.
- How public is the problem?
- Who owns the solution?
- Who monitors and reports progress?
- How will success be declared and celebrated?
Talking about problems without taking action always leads to discouragement.
When inaction prevails, helplessness sets in.
Do something, any reasonable action will do.
“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses.” William Arthur Ward
What problem-solving strategies do you find useful?
Good morning Dan;
Dealing with problems reveals the level of resolve in a leader. Todays business climate creates new problems everyday. The successful leader steps back, conciders the problem, it’s causes, and entertains solutions. First you must identify then name it, (say WE’VE GOT A PROBLEM). Assemble a diversifed team of outside the box thinkers and brainstorm potential solutions. Assign task’s according team members skill’s and talents. Set timelines and make yourself availiable, (DON’T micro-manage). Recognize effort and celebrate small victories. Publically acknowledge outstanding performers.Once the problem is solved debrief the team involving a roundtable discussion of what worked, what didn’t work so well, what steps should be implemented to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future. Now, pat one another on the back, say ‘atta-boy’, and move on to the next problem while motivation and confidence is high…
Gota go Dan
“Cheers my friend”
Thanks SGT. Love the inclusion of “diversified” as part of the solution. I think there’s a temptation to avoid diversified groups because it feels complicated. I can think of some situations where more people should have been at the table but rushing to solve the problem took precedence.
Also, your suggestion to evaluate the process after it’s done represents organizational learning. I’m glad you added it.
Great list and I really like SIMPLE approaches to generate one’s own thinking.
I’ve been playing around the concepts and behaviors of trust and think that when you said,
“Problem-solving is creating the future. Handled poorly, problems distract, defeat, and, eventually destroy.
Tomorrow is revealed in the way you solve problems today.”
These thoughts can easily be framed into “Trust is revealed in the way that you handle problems today and tomorrow.
I simply think that the wagon rolls on Square Wheels and that these continually represent opportunities for improvement and for building better teams and relationships through addressing the Round Wheel ideas. Too often, those ideas are simply ignored or unmanaged.
Good stuff. Guessing that I will blog around your ideas (again!) and do a couple of illustrations and posters,
For the FUN of It!
Thanks Dr. Scott. We might go even further and say that trust is revealed, expressed, and developed in the way we solve problems. Glad you jumped in.
Wow! This was exceptionally clear and complete. The attention to mission, vision, and values resonates welll with me, and your words about how talking without action leads to discouragement is right on target. I will quote you!
Question for everyone, “How many minutes of licking wounds are appropriate before turning to an action plan?” I find I am worn out listening to “first world problems” by 20 minutes.
Thanks Paul. Wound licking may be important but only in preparation for the next battle. 🙂 Cheers
I just extended your post, Dan, as I sometimes to. Added is a poster on Building Trust by taking a lot of your anchor points and adding some reflection and consistent positive forward actions. Hope you like it: http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2014/07/22/trust-is-revealed-by-implementing-round-wheels/
It is, of course, anchored back here. My work on this is done…
Without issues, we’ll never grow! I remember making a $5,000 mistake on a relatively small job. I thought I was done for. But, the Project Manager at the time took me aside and said “It’s OK to make mistakes. I want you to. Without them, you’ll never learn and grow.”
Problems and issues can really bring us together as a team and create some amazing cohesiveness (depending on your team of course). However, in those times of trials you’ll see who your star players are and who needs some more mentoring.
One of my mentors used to say “We don’t have problems or issues, only opportunities to excel.”
Thanks Scott. We see who we are AND we see who others are when we are under the gun, solving problems, close to deadlines, doing things we haven’t done before…..
Adding the idea that we see who our teammates are during problem solving is valuable… cheers
I agree that talking problems without taking action leads to discouragement. At workplace, people are aware about most of the problems. And leaders keep on convening series of meetings to attract attention. They do so to discuss and find out right steps. It is also true that most of the problems have solutions and people know it. Instead of taking action, people create an environment of concern and commitment. Meeting are part of that.
There are two things here. System has its own limitation and people have its own limitation as well. In case of organisation limitation, generally people are aware. In such case, leaders should come forward and show their inability. It will definitely create good impression among people. When problem is with the people and specially management than actual problem arise. When management is unable to take decision then it creates an environment of mistrust. People become susceptible towards management and their leadership.
So, the best problem solving strategy could be understanding limitation of the system first. Management should accept it. When things are internal then management should take decision and use its discretion in time. When problems can be solved without conducting meetings, management should go ahead with its decision. But, it is only possible when management do not have any hidden intention. And it is a choice not compulsion.
Wow, Tomorrow is revealed in the way you solve problems today. Our tomorrow depend upon our today’s action and tomorrow never comes. So we are always in present and our action is responsible for the good or bad for today/present.We can not stop the problems from coming, however we can take an appropriate action to fight and find out the solution to the problem. As a leader, let us accept the challenge not the defeat. Accepting the problem and taking timely action is the proper course of action which is required when we are faced with the challenges. In today’s world challenges have become the part of our routine life, I believe, in his life everybody faces the challenges in some or other form. but the winner always take the challenge in the right spirit and take the tough decisions. It is said that ‘ if there is a problem- there is a solution and there is no problem without solution. we have to strive to find the key to the solution.
Good post Dan! Good leaders crave a challenge because every good challenge promises the potential of interesting new solutions. Keep an open mind, and learn how to take things not personally when dealing with challenges. Don’t be afraid to look at things from a different perspective. Try to minimize and eliminate your fear in tackling a challenge.
I have never thought of problems as opportunities and I think that most people thing of problems as problems, due to your article I am changing my perception of problems, I agree that the most important step in solving a problem is at the start, the better we define a problem the most chances we have to solve it in an efficient manner, so most time should be spent in understanding the problem, the solution many times presents itself while we are in the proccess of perceiving teh problem well.