Monday, September 24, 2012

Bittersweet

How do you look at problems? Do you feel resentment? Do you see opportunity? Do you wish the problem would just go away?

We can choose so many different ways of looking at an existing problem, but however we look at it the problem remains.

Every problem is a reminder of life's bittersweet complexity and magnificence.

LIfe is worth it, and the problem is worth solving.


-- Douglas Brent Smith

Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding Connections

Where do you look for the causes of your problem?

Where do you look for solutions?

Who do you find to help you solve your toughest problem?

Centered problem solvers find connections. There are unexpected similarities or patterns underneath each problem. At the core of a challenge are the ends of connections that sometimes bring about outcomes far different from their intentions. Connections fray, connections twist, connections turn, connections surprise.

And connections can also deliver. Finding where the connections are no longer effective (whether they are process steps or relationships) is the first step to relaxing them, restructuring them, retuning them, and helping them to be the connections you are looking for.

Creative, centered problem solvers find connections fast and fearlessly.


To find connections fast: pay attention, ask questions, open up your imagination, and stay open to possibilities and surprises. See things from other (maybe many other) points of view. Let art and life inspire you.

To move on connections fearlessly, operate from the clarity of your mission. What is it that you want to achieve? How would you act if you acted perfectly in harmony with your values? Let go of any pre-conceived notions of perfection and allow for the charm of the unexpected delight. That connection you've been avoiding might be the connection that generates the most light and love.

Often it's the connections between disparate pieces that matter and that provide the first opportunity for fast correction.

What connections have been surprising you lately?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Wrong Solution

Did you ever solve something and make it worse? I know that I have. I've installed processes that people didn't need. I've created logs that tracked data no one wanted. I've printed reports that no one read.

An ineffective solution can be worse than a persistent problem.

A solution that no one wants creates resistance to solutions that people may need. The trouble is that we don't always shut our resistance off and on accurately or effectively. When a leader creates road blocks to success and gums up the works, even with the intention of making some valuable change, people may disregard wholesale. Is that what you want?


Why not spend the time to find a better answer?

How?

  • Take the time to FOCUS on what it is that you really want, based on your mission, values and goals.
  • ANALYZE the situation carefully and identify any misunderstandings. You'll do better with the help of other people on this, especially people who are skilled at finding inconsistencies.
  • Involve the people who will be effected by any change as you CREATE potential solutions. People don't usually resist their own ideas.
  • Use your carefully agreed on criteria for success to EVALUATE your possibilities. If you've done your job of creating robustly enough, there will be many ideas to choose from. 
  • SOLVE your problem using your best possibilities, your most eager people, your most robust processes and your most assertive plan. 
That may take a little longer than jumping to a fast solution that people don't want. But you do want to find an effective solution, don't you?


-- Douglas Brent Smith

Front Range Leadership


Monday, September 10, 2012

Understanding Your Problem

What happens when someone tries to solve a problem before they understand it?

Bad solutions.
Surprising side-effects.
Incomplete solutions.
More problems.

That's probably not what you want.

Centered problem solving requires a deep understanding of a problem before solving it.


Sure, that can take time, but you don't want to create MORE problems do you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Front Range Leadership

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Clear Mission

How many ways can you solve a problem?

How many choices do you have for dealing with your challenge?

The answer of course is many. We always have choices, and in solving a problem we get to choose whether or not the people we partner with, the processes we use, and the solutions we develop match our mission. To do that, don't we first need a clear mission?

We will be happier with the solutions we develop once we align them with the purpose we are seeking.

Centered problem solvers are clear about their mission and goals before trying to solve tough problems.

Before we jump into the answers, why not center ourselves around the right questions?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Front Range Leadership

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Connecting to Mission and Goals

Have you ever tried to solve a tough problem and realized that your solutions just didn't agree with you?

A good idea can seem to solve the problem, but somehow it disconnects from what you're looking for.

Centered problem solvers are clear about their mission and goals before trying to solve tough problems.

This is part of what I call the FOCUS process step in centered problem solving: aligning any ideas and steps you take with your central purpose, your mission, your goals.

You do want your problem solutions to contribute to your big picture mission, don't you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Front Range Leadership, LLC




Friday, September 7, 2012

No Perfect Solution

Have you ever been polarized in a search for a perfect solution?

Maybe it was you, maybe it was someone you were working with, but the project just doesn't move forward because the solutions you've come up with aren't perfect.

Waiting for a perfect solution assures you that one will never be found.

Find a great solution and move forward. Change as you need to. But don't keep analyzing in hopes of perfection.

You do want to solve the problem, don't you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Front Range Leadership

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Trouble with Denying Problems

What if we just ignored a problem? What if we just denied that it existed?

Some people would rather "reframe" it and not call it a problem at all. I have had several bosses who preferred to call problems "opportunities". They didn't fool anyone because a problem is still a problem. We may have the opportunity to succeed, but only if we solve the problem.

Denying that problems exist invites them to worsen and grow.

We don't want that do we?

What's the fear? Let's call problems what they are: problems;  and get about the exciting business of solving them.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

http://frontrangeleadership.com

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Effects of a Solution

I'm not a very good billiards player. When I hit the cue ball who knows what will happen. Sometimes I hit the ball that I'm aiming at, but most often I don't. And, sometimes the ball hits a ball I didn't intend to hit and pool disaster results with the cue ball entering the pocket. I'd much rather ride a bike or go for a walk.

Solving problems can be like that for some people. The more you try, the more the ball seems to careen out of control causing all sorts of new problems. Problems cascade into problems and before you know it, the fun drains out of it.

Centered problem solving considers the effects of a solution on other problems.

Just like that cue ball, any action you take to solve a problem impacts other people, places and things. What will you do when it does? How do you plan for the effects? What happens if it stops being fun?

The fun must come from within. The fun must be in exploring the process and changing the pieces as you go, including the pieces of yourself that pull you to extremes. It's in these extremes that big problems turn into bigger problems. Problem solvers who center themselves first and who use a balance of their strengths in clarity, courage, creativity and compassion will find a different outcome. The metaphorical cue ball may still go askew, but now there is focus and patience to try again.

Because you do want to solve the problem, don't you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith
  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Solution Problems

Have you ever solved a problem only to discover that you've created a whole new set of problems?

It's not unusual. Sometimes in the rush to come with a solution we miss the side-effects. We miss the repercussions. We miss backlash and impact to people we may not have considered.

Many solutions bring new problems so let the new situation unfold and propel you forward.

Maybe your next solution will be better. Maybe you'll learn what you need to learn to pull things together. Maybe the centered solution has alluded you -- it's still out there for you to find.

-- Douglas Brent Smith