Prescriptions are dangerous solutions. It’s scary to read their side-effects. Two people out of a million grew hangnails while on this medication. Wouldn’t you hate to die of hangnails? But seriously, some solutions can really kill you.
#1. Dangerous solutions multiply problems.
Solutions are dangerous when you diagnose the wrong problem. The other day my doc told me my blood pressure was high. I said, “Yeah, it goes up every time I visit you. I don’t need blood pressure medicine. You need to stop freaking me out. What’s the cure for anxiety caused by doctors?”
You determine low performance is a teamwork problem. But maybe people need to know what’s important. Stop changing direction like a frantic chipmunk. Don’t schedule teamwork exercises when the problem is you.
What if the problem is poor leadership? Maybe you need to work on yourself, not on them. Questions that expose real problems:
- How might I contribute to this problem?
- What if the apparent problem isn’t the real problem?
- What else might cause this problem?
- What processes or procedures hinder productivity?
- Who is doing the wrong thing? Don’t interrupt high performers.
#2. Dangerous solutions ignore behaviors.
It’s easier to institute new policies than to deal with people. When someone says, “We screwed up,” ask, “Who screwed up?” Listen for specific names, not an ambiguous ‘we’.
Ambiguous answers don’t solve specific problems. Working harder isn’t the answer when people are already working harder.
Problems you define in terms of behaviors can be solved.
- What are people doing to cause this situation?
- What are people leaving undone to cause this situation?
#3. Dangerous solutions over-solve problems.
Don’t amputate your foot to cure toe fungus. Maybe a headache isn’t brain cancer.
- How frequently does this problem occur?
- What’s the simplest solution we can design?
When does problem solving create problems?