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4 Ways to Turn Problems into Opportunities

A team struggled with people leaving before the end of organizational meetings. You could simply tell people not to leave.

I asked, “How do you want people to feel at the end of the meeting?”

I based my question on Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman explains that people remember peaks and ends.

You can’t control someone’s peak experience, but you can control what happens at the end.

The goal:

The team decided they wanted everyone to walk out with a smile on their face.

Define goals in specific language. “We succeed when people smile at the end of the meeting.”

The question becomes, “What will you do to put a smile on people’s faces at the end of your meeting?”

4 ways to turn problems into opportunities:

#1. Tap into creativity.

There’s nothing creative about telling people what to do. But creativity takes patience and courage.

Creativity requires you to get comfortable NOT knowing.

A quick solution is the end of creativity and the beginning of self-justification.

#2. Seek elegance.

There’s nothing elegant about telling people what to do.

#3. Develop an opportunity.

Anyone can solve a problem.

Turning problems into opportunities is leadership.

#4. Answer the big question, “What do we really want?”

Connect to higher purpose, not simply a quick solution.

Problem-solvers want something to go away.

Solution-seekers create something new.


The team decided to involve children at the end of the meeting. The result: everyone smiled.

Blame or responsibility:

Telling reluctant people what to do is embedded with blame. Creating an experience that causes a smile is responsibility.

Blame causes anger and exempts from responsibility.

Responsibility creates challenge and prevents finger-pointing.

If you reject the responsibilities of leadership, please get out. All you are is a black sucking hole dragging organizations down.

How might leaders turn problems into opportunities?


Creative Problem Solving (Mind Tools)

The Basics of Creative Problem Solving (Innovation Management)

15 Best Creativity Tips (Leadership Freak)

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