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Showing posts from August, 2018

Solve Problems for Yourself AND Others

When you are solving a problem, do you consider the impact your solution will have on other people?

I've seen leaders who impose solutions on their teams that make the job worse, not better. While some degree of resistance to any solution is natural, your problem has a much better chance of staying solved if the solution you pick is supported by your team.

Does your solution make the job easier?
Does your solution make your customers happier?
Is your solution elegant and simple and yet robust enough to solve the problem?

The purpose of problem solving is to make life better for you AND for others. Centered problem solvers consider the needs of everyone impacted by the problem. There's no need to let your solution ruin your solution.


Do the whole job.

-- doug smith

On Complexity

Break it down.

Work it out.

Analyze the root cause of the problem. Involve the people who are involved. Take the time it takes to take the problem seriously.

Complexity is no excuse to avoid solving a problem.

-- doug smith




Infinite Possibilities

Problems pile up. Answer hide. Frustration builds. Still, there are always more answers. There are always more possibilities. Our biggest challenge is to give up before we have explored enough possibilities to find a winner. There's a winner (or two or more) in there. Keep digging. Keep generating ideas. Keep focused on possibilities.

We may never run out of problems but we'll also never exhaust our possibilities for solving them.

-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action:
Stay curious!

Meet the Challenge

A problem can feel like a weight. It can stick you in your place, nailing inertia to your intention and holding fast. Quickly, it becomes unmanageable, an impossible obstacle in your path. When a problem feels like a nightmare, leadership can struggle.

When the direction is unclear, when the heat seems unbearable, when the pressure is crushing you, when the problems stack high like a looming tower, put the problem into perspective:

A problem is there to challenge you, not break you.

Centered problem solves step back, step up, and deliver.

Meet the challenge.

-- doug smith

You May Not Need Every Tool

Do you have a lot of tools?

I don't. I had a nice collection inherited from my dad (I call them a collection because I collected them but when they were his he actually USED them) until they were destroyed in a fire.


Now, an apartment dweller, I have few tools. I still don't use all of them -- but I know how.

When we are solving problems we have many tools. The temptation is to use them all. It's oddly satisfying to bring out tool after tool. Satisfying, but sometimes inefficient. Simplicity - elegant simplicity is often best.

Use the tools that work, and leave the rest for another time.

It isn't always necessary to overwhelm a problem in order to solve it.

Sometimes the solution is right there in from of you and in need of only one tool. Dialogue. Talk about it and see what happens. You might just solve that problem faster than you expected.

-- doug smith

When NOT to Make Peace

I'm a peaceful guy. Given a choice, any choice at all, I will avoid conflict by seeking to create dialogue. If that doesn't work, or the situation is too intense I may just leave. Leaving is good. Leaving is peaceful. Leaving feels safe.

But leaving is not always the best choice. It's not enough to make peach with a problem when it's our duty to solve it. Making peace with that kind of problem makes us culpable for the problem.

Centered problem solvers solve problems even when it would be easier to run away.

Don't run away from problems that need to be solved. Don't make peace with a problem causing pain.

-- doug smith


High Performance Survival

High performance leaders solve problems. They solve their problems and they work with their team members to solve collective team problems (because any team problem becomes a collective problem - impossible to isolate.)

Using the right balance of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion high performance leaders facilitate the kind of dialogue that challenges, encourages, cooperates, and collaborates. They talk about it. Their team talks about it. They get it done.

It can be rough going solving problems. Personalities can get excited. High performance leaders find ways to remain centered. How? Of course it depends. Here are some ways to remain centered when you're solving problems:


BreathePauseMaintain respectThink creativelyConsider many, many possibilitiesSuspend your inner judge and stay curiousTrust that others have ideas as great as yours There's more to it of course. Solving problems is a dynamic, difficult adventure. But by taking the time to solve problems your team…