How to Spot or Create Great Problems

The monster around the corner is your friend.

Painful problems transform good ideas into great solutions.

In order to be great, you must solve a great problem.



Your destiny is tied to a great problem.

The bigger the problem the more important the solution.

The more painful the problem the more urgent the solution.

Great problems:

  1. Define danger. What if we don’t act?
  2. Contribute to urgency. We must act now.
  3. Disrupt thinking. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today.
  4. Create curiosity. What are our options?
  5. Galvanize teams around rallying points. We must work together.
  6. Align energy.
  7. Open minds to new alliances. Who else has this problem? How can we work together?
  8. Minimize infighting. When a big monster is at the door internal conflicts often shrink.
  9. Identify teammates who don’t contribute or fit.
  10. Clarify values. Why do we care?
  11. Establish priorities. We can’t wander anymore.
  12. Define wins.

Help people want solutions by helping them feel the pain of their problems.

4 ways to create great problems:

  1. Explore what isn’t working and find a root cause.
  2. Define the tipping point your organization sits on and what happens if you don’t act.
  3. Identify a compelling danger that lurks around the corner.
  4. Describe the failure of organizations that followed the path you’re on.


Focus on solutions even as you point out problems. Leaders who talk problems and neglect forward-looking solutions are downers. Talk problems with optimism. Use the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time focused on solutions.

If you don’t have a problem to solve, go find one now.

How might leaders create problems to solve?

If you become a problem finding leader, what must be true of you?