How Solutions Make Leaders Stupid

I was surprised to hear the co-founder of Netflix say, “Fall in love with the problem.” (Marc Randolph)

I’ve been teaching leaders to fall in love with solution-finding. So, I did some investigating.

High Land Cow

Learning makes you stupid when it closes your mind.

Not the black hole:

The plethora of problems organizations face every day overwhelms some leaders. Discouraged leaders use problems as excuses. “We can’t do that because….”

Falling in love with the problem isn’t circling the black hole.

At High Point University Marc Randolph said, “When it comes to investing my time in an idea, the first thing I check on is if I’m interested in the problem. I tell people not to fall in love with their idea, but with the problem they’re trying to solve. The idea is going to change. The idea is likely going to be a bad one. If the problem is an interesting problem, that’ll keep you going for a long, long time.”

The danger of solutions:

Abraham Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” (The ‘nail’ idea is older than Maslow.)

Don’t fall in love with solutions.

The Einstellung effect explains our tendency to solve new problems with old solutions.

Fall in love with the problem:

The problem I love is misery caused by incompetent leadership.

I write, speak, train, and coach to energize leaders, teams, and organizations.

Every leader or consultant who walks into the room with a predetermined solution is in love with their hammer, not the problem.

When you fall in love with the problem, you explore new solutions. When you fall in love with the solution, everything distills to a nail.

Falling in love with the problem motivates iterative solution-finding that explores new methods and tests new solutions.

How might leaders escape the rut of using old solutions to solve current problems?

What does it mean for you to fall in love with the problem?