Monday, October 28, 2013

Attend to that Problem

What happens to problems that you ignore?

They don't go away, do they?

They get in your way. And, chances are, in someone else's way, too

Every problem left unattended slows somebody down.

Why not get started in solving it today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why Take Fear for an Answer?

Sure it's a big problem. Sure it's troubling. Thought provoking. But there it is.

Fear of a problem will not solve the problem.

When fear does not serve you, why serve the fear?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Monday, October 14, 2013

How Many Solutions?

How often do your problems require only one solution? Most of the time? Some of the time?

Probably not all of the time.

Some problems require more than one solution.

Not because you have an A-plan and a B-plan in case the A-plan doesn't work -- but because your A-plan includes a variety of changes to the source of your problem to fix that thing once and for all.

Or at least long enough to get some really great work done on your goals, enjoy your life, and laugh a bit.

Because we'll always be blessed with problems. And some of them need a bunch of solutions to stay solved.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Do you have a team, process, or business problem you'd like to collaborate on and solve? Why not explore bringing in our special Solving Problems workshop?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Scale that Problem Down

Why do we let problems overwhelm us?

Sometimes our emotions pump up a problem until it's so large that it looms over us like a mask of doom. Let's drop that. Let's stop that. Let's keep things in perspective.

Any problem that we can detach our feelings from gets instantly smaller.

Isn't that a good thing?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Call It What You Will

Photo by Stephen Downes
Photo by Stephen Downes --  downes.ca
Have you ever heard anyone try to dismiss a problem by calling it something else? Maybe they call it an opportunity. Maybe they call it a diverse trait. Maybe they call it a minor deviation.

Calling a problem anything but a problem does not make the problem go away.

It still needs management. It still begs for a solution. It's still there waiting for your attention. It might be right below the surface, ready to bite when you least expect it, but it's still there.

Are you paying attention? Wouldn't you rather solve that problem before it solves you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our biggest problems...

...are what?

The ones we spend the most time trying to solve? The ones that get our feelings moving in awkward directions? The ones we are supposed to solve and can't seem to?

Our biggest problems are the ones we ignore.

We wall them in. We pretend that they can't catch up to us. We let them tick away unnoticed.

They won't go away on their own, will they?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Problem Solving Roots in Kindness

When you are solving a problem, do you consider its effects on other people?

Do you see your solution through the eyes of others? Better still, do you get those other involved in bringing their perspectives to the problem and the solution?

It's easy to think first about ourselves. It's easy to take care only for our own agenda. In our quest for justice it sometimes feels as if a solution that causes someone else to pay for our problems is right. It can feel fair to create hardship on someone who has created or perpetuated our problem. But is that useful? Is that a sustainable solution?

Centered problem solvers are careful about any solution that does not have its roots in kindness.

Without kindness, hurt and pain is only transferred and perpetuated.

Keep compassion in your problem solving.

-- Douglas Brent Smith
 
Fill your empty room with people centered and eager to solve your toughest problems. Contact me today about planning a centered problem solving session:

doug@frontrangeleadership.com



Friday, July 19, 2013

Another Problem Opportunity

What do you do when your problem is with another person?

How do you react when people stand in your way?

It's possible to see this as an opportunity to work on the relationship. It's possible to move the problem forward by deepening our compassion. By slowing down to listen and accept -- without committing to any particular solutions -- we can often arrive at those solutions much faster. We can optimize our results by optimizing our relationships.

Problems provide open opportunities to respectfully express our love.

Who would ever want to miss that?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Missing Shared Values

Have you ever tried to solve problems with a group that is split on its values?

It's not easy.

When we can't agree on what is important it becomes incredibly difficult to stay centered and solve problems. Challenges get bigger when values are in conflict. Ideals turn into contests. Personalities create barriers instead of solutions. Even when ideas do emerge, they are strained and out of alignment.

The first step is to establish alignment. We need a shared mission, goal, and values. Without shared values, how can we ever agree on a solution that meets the needs of all constituents?

Once we agree on our values it becomes easier to solve our problems.

Could that be the place to start?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Monday, July 15, 2013

You'll Need Your Strengths

When your group is beginning to tackle a big problem, do you know all about your strengths?

It's easy to fix on our weaknesses. Likely, they are part of the problem. When I have seen groups identify their strengths first though it brings an energy to the effort that is remarkable. It helps in solving the problem. It helps in centering the group. It makes it all more fun.

Take inventory of your strengths as a group when you prepare to solve a problem. 

You'll like the impact of the effort.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Solving Problems  |  Achieving Your Goals

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Get the help you need

When you are solving a problem do you tend to do it all yourself? Or do you look for the help that you need? Sometimes we hesitate from asking the very people who can give us the most help, simply because they might disagree with our perspective. It's those diverse perspectives that we need in order to develop a lasting, honorable, noble solution.

Expert problem solvers get the help that they need.

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

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Solving Problems  |  Achieving Your Goals

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Size of Your Problems


Have you ever noticed that the bigger your job grows the bigger the problems are that you encounter?

The more people you know the more problems you see?

The more work that has to be done the more opportunities you see for doing it better, faster, smarter, more optimally?

The size of your problems is a measure of your influence.

So if your problems are getting bigger -- good news. So are you.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

A Change In Perspective


Does how you look at it matter?

Absolutely. Anything we can do to see things anew helps us find the optimal view. Anything we can do to turn around our filtering helps us get closer to the truth.

A change in perspective often brings a better solution to your problem.

Ways To Change Perspective:

- Ask someone else and listen with curiosity
- Reverse its current order
- Look at it upside down
- Combine it with something unrelated
- Take much more time than usual to view it
- If it can be offered in writing, read it slowly, aloud
- Try it as if you were ten years old. Four years old. Two.
- Try it as if you were 100 years old
- Drop your preconceived notions of what it means
- Ask "What if..." over and over...

What other ways can you come up with to alter your perspective?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting Help

photo by Stephen Downes retrieved from flickr/photos/stephen_downes
Can you do it all alone?

Are you so confident in your problem solving abilities, and so sure of the causes of your top problem that you expect to solve it on your own.

Maybe you can. And, maybe you can't. Sometimes trying leads to unexpected complications. It can lead to wild swings in momentum, the way an object in motion whips back faster the farther it gets away from you.

We can rely too much on our confidence and lose perspective.

Getting help with a problem can prevent some seriously self-centered mistakes.

If the problem were easy enough to solve on your own, wouldn't it already be solved by now?

-- Douglas Brent Smith




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Many Root Causes?

How many root causes does your problem have?

Much of our time as problem solvers is spent on finding the root cause. Where does our problem originate? What is the source of our trouble?

Could that be a bit of a myth? Is it possible that one root cause has created the situation we now see as a problem?

Probably not.

There are probably many sources of the problem. There are probably many contributing factors. Sure, there may be one origination point -- but by the time the problem has come to your attention there are connections in places you haven't even looked yet.

Problems with only one root cause only exist in our imagination.

Solving that one perceived cause is a great start -- but are you looking for other factors, too?

-- Douglas Brent Smith