How to Solve Problems Quickly – But 69% of Relationship Problems are Unsolvable
Some problems should be managed, not solved. Broken computers can be fixed but many relationship ‘problems’ are unsolvable.
“Dr. John Gottman’s research proves that 69% of problems in a relationship are unsolvable.”
6 essentials to solve problems quickly:
#1. Quick solutions require solvable problems.
If you want to solve problems quickly, forget about solving unsolvable problems.
Dr. Gottman focuses on marriage but his research reveals that personality conflicts don’t go away. The only way problems caused by personality clashes ever go away is for someone’s personality to change. What’s the likelihood of that happening?
Some ‘problems’ between people are perpetual. For example:
- Doers and Dreamers.
- Impulsive and Methodical.
- Results and Relationships.
- Introverts and Extroverts.
‘Problems’ between conflicting personality types can be managed, not solved.
#2. Quick solutions require courage.
Timid leaders don’t solve problems quickly. Reflect on courageousness if you expect people to act quickly.
Caution and quick solutions don’t live in the same universe.
If you want your team to solve problems quickly, make failure an option.
#3. Quick solutions require skill.
Unskilled people try this or that, but a skilled mechanic, for example, fixes things.
#4. Quick solutions require openness.
Novel problems are solved by open minds.
If you’re stuck in old ways of thinking, you’ll struggle to solve novel problems.
#5. Quick solutions require quick learning.
Problems persist when gritty persistence prevents a change of course.
Leaders who can’t admit their solution isn’t working add shelf life to problems.
Say, “This isn’t working. What are we learning?” (Avoid saying ‘learned’. It gives the impression of finality.)
#6. Quick solutions require resolve.
If you’ve been living with the same solvable problem for months, the issues are tolerance and resolve. Anyone who tolerates unresolved issues has a tolerance problem. The problem could be lack of resolve.
Systems are essential, but quick solutions begin with people.
What prevents quick solutions?
How might leaders solve problems quickly?
How Doers and Dreamers Drive Each Other Crazy (Leadership Freak)
Cracking Complexity: The Breakthrough Formula for Solving Just About Anything Fast (Amazon)
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” ~ Harry S. Truman
Great quote, Duane. Posturing and politics always slow progress. The problem is these actions are symptoms of ineffective leadership.
What prevents quick solutions? Being too timid (or afraid) to branch off and take on the challenge (not problem) in a different way while acknowledging the system dynamics. To do nothing is sometimes the “right” choice but I’ve found that those times are minimal over the long term so one has to do something when said challenges (not problems) are presented.
Thanks Roger. I notice your shift from problem to challenge. You have my respect for persistently pointing out a preference for the word challenge over the word problem. 🙂
Frankly, I hoped you’d drop in today.
Dan: I am almost anal about the insistence of eliminating the word “problem” outside of maybe a math test. I continuously drive home with my now adult children that what one faces in life are challenges of various natures, details, and energies. I also work with a large number of young engineers across the country who are always asking, “how do you know to do that” & “I’d never have gone that way”. It always gives me the inroad to explain my concept of challenges vs. problems.
You’re one reason I truly enjoy writing Leadership Freak. 🙂
What prevents quick solutions?
1. Picking the wrong problems to solve.
2. Having false, incomplete or inaccurate data.
3. Wanting or requiring perfect data.
4. Improperly defining the problem.
5. Analysis paralysis.
Assuming the problem is unsolvable.
Having low expectations that a solution is possible.
Thanks Paul. And thanks for the last two lines. 🙂
The idea of expectations seems important. Do you expect to find a solution? When? Should set a deadline for the solution?
I like the question, “Can you think of any solid reason we should take action right now?”
I’ll add “Hammeritis” to the list, which is your only tool is a hammer and so all your problems look like nails.
Great add, Jennifer. Thank you
What prevents timely resolution?
Denial (by executive mgmt.) that an issue (from those on the ground) is material or relevant … which often turns a problem into catastrophe (think BP explosion).
Thanks Rurbane. Someone has to stand up and say, “Houston, we have a problem.” Your focus on people who are the closest to the problem seems essential to all aspects of problem solving.
Really good post, Dan. So relevant. I appreciated these insights.
Thank you for this post! I am currently in a work environment where management is looking to quickly solve problems but are also close minded about solutions (including in problems with personnel),making quick resolutions nearly impossible. It is amazing how many of these boxes the current management checks off, against being productive in finding solutions against problems.
Thanks Sara. Your insight concerning the importance of being open minded if you want to quickly solve problems is powerful. We might think that seeking input slows us down. But it fits into the concept of go slow to go fast.
Thank you, Dan. The metaphorical light bulb started shining as I read your post. I understood some frustrations I’ve experienced as a leader and a husband. I’ll be aiming for courage and more understanding of people who focus more on results than relationship.
I appreciate the advice of avoiding the question, “What have we learned?” Teams in our organization use “What surprised you?” instead as a closing inquiry to a meeting.
Very well written. Very insightful.
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