Saturday, March 29, 2014

Unmet Needs

The machine needed oil. The garden needed water. The team member needed attention.

Problems appear from unmet needs.

Seldom do problems occur without warning. Often, the problems are completely avoidable. By providing our responsibilities with what they need, we can often keep things in order, running well, centered, and happy. When we ignore this need, more problems pop up.

Once you've solved that problem, do you have a maintenance plan to prevent it from recurring?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Share Ownership

Who owns the solution? Who is in charge of making your problem better?

We can solve problems faster when we share ownership of the solution.

Even when we can delegate our problems, how we help makes a huge difference. Solving problems together creates a bond that's difficult to achieve any other way.

What problems are you helping with today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Monday, March 24, 2014

Something Important

If  a problem requires more help than you can give it you've found something important.

What's your next step?

Could it be finding the help that you need?

Centered problem solvers get the help that they need.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pay Attention to Concerns

When you're solving a problem, do you listen to other people's concerns about your solution?

We can get in a hurry. We can solve problems with solutions that meet our standards while disturbing someone else's. While it's not possible to please everyone all the time, sometimes we'd do well to slow down and ask. Stay mindful of concerns. Proceed compassionately.

Ignoring a person's concerns about your solution weakens your solution.

Why not go in the direction of strengthening it?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Solve it Sooner

Our biggest problems stand in the way of things both seen and unseen.

What would solving your biggest problem allow you to do?

Make a list of all the things that your biggest problem is standing in the way of. Is it a long list? Is it an important list? Is it a list of things worth moving toward? That's your list of things seen that your problem is standing in the way of.

Imagine what your unseen list looks like.

Maybe that problem should be solved sooner, rather than later.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Is It On Your Mind?

Have you been pondering a problem for a while?

Any problem worth your concern is worth solving.

When will you get started?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Do You Feel About That Problem?

Have you ever had a problem so long that it felt like part of you? It's so familiar that you can hardly imagine life without it?

Sometimes our problems attach themselves to us, and sometimes we attach ourselves to our problems.

It's hard to solve a problem that you're in love with.

Are you sure you want that problem around?

What can you do today to uncouple it?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Monday, March 10, 2014

Strengthen Relationships

How do your problems impact your relationships?

Problems can be disruptive to relationships, especially if the relationship is part of the problem. Problems can also help to build relationships when you work together, identify new ideas, build on each other's strengths, and minimize each other's weaknesses. Often in those ways problems end up being beneficial.

Every problem begs to strengthen a relationship.

Do you see that opportunity? Are you taking advantage of it?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Targets of Our Anger

What makes you angry?

Do you ever feel anger and wonder where it came from?

Sometimes I've noticed that anger appears out of scale with the thing that seemed to trigger it. Maybe it's an accumulation of aggravations. Maybe it's a sustained patience that has become unsustainable. Maybe it's a lifetime of little disappointments. The anger boils, flairs, and erupts. At that point it can be highly unhealthy.

We lash out. We shout. We blame. We break things. Humans can be so sloppy sometimes. We lose our center and our balance lists like a ship in a storm. Our storm of anger rocks our world.

Maybe you haven't experienced this, and if not, maybe you've seen it in other people. It can scare.

Where the anger heads though isn't always where it belongs. Fall out occurs. Innocent feelings and people are hurt.

The targets of our anger are seldom the cause of our anger.

We punish the wrong people. We overreact to minor disagreements propelled by the build up of restraint.

What's the answer?  What do you do to defuse your anger? How do you manage your center?

Without pretending to know THE answer, I would say that some of it is preventing the build-up. Staying true to your values. Opposing unfairness in the moment, instead of tolerating. Staying assertive so that aggression seldom become necessary.

In other words, staying centered. Staying mindful of our circumstances and speaking and acting with courage when courage is needed. For if we suppress or deny our courage, our anger takes control.

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Friday, March 7, 2014

Determine What You Really Want

Is the best result what you really want?

I know you want a result that is best for you -- but often we can confuse what is best for us and our teams vs. what we seem to really want.

This can work against us.

How do we overcome this?

Check in on what you really, really want. What is it that you are hoping for? Is that aligned with your vision and goals? If it is, go full speed ahead. And if it isn't, it's time to talk it over with someone who can help you with that.

-- Doug Smith


Optimize Your Awareness

What if your problem isn't really a problem? 

What if it's your latest change emerging?

Are you ready to optimize your inputs to maximize your outputs?

Are you ready to take whatever comes down the road, problem or not, and turn it into an opportunity?

It takes total awareness to optimize your results. Stay mindful, get centered, stay aware -- you can do it.

-- Doug Smith


Help Other People Solve Their Problems

How are you at solving other people's problems?

Does it sometimes seem easier to you to tackle a concern of someone else, rather than one of your own issues?

Sometimes we can see with greater clarity the problems of someone else, and miss those of our own that are right in front of our eyes.

But does that mean we should go around solving other people's problems?

Can you tell the difference between helping and interfering?

It may feel easier to solve someone else's problems but trying to do so may not help either of you.

It's usually better to help, rather than take on, the issues of another person.

How can you make yourself available to help, without assuming responsibility or ownership?

High performance leaders sort that out, and help when they are needed while letting other people learn what they need to learn to move forward in their mission.

It's not always easy -- that's what makes it so wonderfully valuable.

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Communicate Honestly About Your Problems

There are so many complicated problems that go unsolved for the lack of one major ingredient: open and honest communication.

Not just honest, but more: radically honest. So honest that feelings bubble to the surface and change the energy in the room. So honest that there are NO doubts how people perceive the situation. They may disagree, but they get closer to understanding. 

How can you solve a complicated problem without a clear understanding of both the facts and the feelings of the situation?

The answer is, you likely can't.

Creative, high impact problem solving requires open and radically honest communication.

The analysis could be jarring. Feelings will be exposed and activated. People will occasionally want to hide the facts or hide from the feelings. But unless we completely understand what they are it is incredibly tough to effective deal with them.

Get it all out on the table. Tell it exactly the way we see it. Adjust and change as necessary but get the dialogue going -- unthreatening, unjudging, non-concluding but open. 

Once it is safe to say what we see hear and feal, it's safe to start solving the problem.

It's at the heart of complicated problem solving: communication.

What will you do today to encourage people to say what they are really thinking? 

-- Doug Smith

Focus for Productive Creativity

Do you see things the way they really are, or the way you only THINK they are?

Are people on your team deceiving you or gaming your system?

How will you know?

A clear analysis of a situation provides the focus that allows for wildly productive creativity.

But the analysis comes first.

Know where you ARE, and then you're free to evolve.

Does that make sense to you? 

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Some Problems Need Emotional Detachment

Problems that cause us emotional trouble may need distance and detachment before they can be solved.

Are you ready to provide that distance?

What other solutions might you have?

How much distance is enough?

-- Doug Smith

Help your people develop their leadership, communication, and productivity skills. Contact me today at:

doug@dougsmithtraining.com

about scheduling a workshop or teleclass.

Rapid Problem Solving

How fast do you solve problems? 

Effective leaders solve many problems even before people realize that they are problems. 

Because centered, high performance leaders are always looking for ways to improve their processes, revolutionize their designs, and develop their people, they are constantly exposed to hints of resistance. Big problems often give out signals of dysfunction long before anyone notices them. 


As a leader, how will you see these signals soon enough to optimize your impact?

What problems are lurking just below the surface of your most important process?

Who on your team needs additional resources to get the job done?

What skills need additional attention and training to optimize your team's performance?


What will you do today to diagnose a hidden problem?

-- Doug Smith

Map the Problem Process

The first step to fixing a process is mapping it. High performance leaders seek to understand problems before solving them.

How much time do you spend working to understand your most serious problems?

Where do you look for help?

What sources of help might you be overlooking?

-- Doug Smith