Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2018

When It's Not A Problem

We call lots of things problems that really are not problems at all. If we know the solution and can immediately solve the situation, it's not exactly a problem, is it? If money can fix it and we have enough money for the situation, then it's not a problem (I know, the lack of money can certainly be a problem).

If we haven't prioritized the situation and it requires our attention, it's not so much a problem as a choice.

Yes, we have lots of problems. Let's just be careful about avoiding a situation by labeling it a problem.

It's not a problem just because it doesn't fit into your agenda.

-- doug smith

Sometimes It IS The Relationship

Do relationships impact your problems? Maybe not always, but sometimes. Relationships can both help and complicate problem situations. How we attend to the relationship impacts the problem. Whether or not we attend to the problem affects the relationship.

Not every problem can be solved by helping a relationship, but those than CAN be, must be or they remain problems.

-- doug smith

Minute with Maxwell Series on Problem Solving

John Maxwell is a prosperous leadership expert, speaker, and author of many books. He also offers a "Minute With Maxwell" daily series that is filled with leadership wisdom.

This week he has devoted his series to problem solving. I thought it would be helpful to save the videos here for his perspective on problem solving.

Here's the first.


The first principle is: Face Reality.

Video #3
Ask for Help
"None of us are as smart as all of us."

People like to help us solve problems, so ask for help!
Sometimes we just need fresh eyes. Look for help and you will find it. "When I asked for help I didn't diminish myself in their eyes, but I did diminish the problem."

Video #4-A
Don't Add to the Problem

Video #4-B
"Reflection turns experience into insight."

"What did you love? What did you learn?"
"A sustained thinker looks for a better answer..."

Video #5
Growth Practices:

I read daily to grow my persona…

Solve the Little Problems

Those big problems are tough. Like giant stone walls they overshadow everything around them. How will we ever solve them?

Those walls are made of smaller bricks. What if we tackle one brick at a time, one smaller problem at a time?

High performance leaders find ways to break down the big walls into digestible pieces.

What if our biggest unsolvable problem is really one hundred perfectly solvable little problems?

-- doug smith

When Cultures Clash

Teams need time to talk. Interruptions into your busy schedule might be annoying. They might even be disruption. What if within those interruptions you could find new keys to better performance? What if in those interruptions were the secrets to solving the problems of your team?

You never know. When a leader gives a team member their complete and full attention, wonderful things happen. Growth, change, bonding, efficiency.

Yes, even efficiency. That interruption that feels like a hassle might end up making your team more efficient and complete, like a fabulous jazz band that improvises without missing, or a sports team that never drops the ball. Cohesive, collaborative teams come from communicating. Why not talk more?

Unless we take time to talk we may not have time for anything else.

Take time to talk.

-- doug smith

Do You Know the Puzzle of Your Problem?

Problems! If the solution were obvious it would be no problem. We have to sit with it, figure it out, focus on our goal, and move forward. Maybe we move tentatively at first. Maybe we boldly act with decisiveness. Maybe we first solve the puzzle behind the problem.

The puzzle is the piece of the problem that is not obvious, yet is strongly effecting the outcome. Maybe it's on there periphery. It could be understated. It could be misunderstood. It is puzzling and must be teased out of its dilemma status into an openly more obvious presence. We can't do that if we ourselves are flying in all directions. We must sit still and breathe. We must center ourselves. We must scrutinize the puzzle.

Your problem is more than a puzzle but the puzzle will not be denied.

-- doug smith

Take Care of the People, Too

High performance leaders solve problems. They know that there are no perfect processes and there sure ARE a lot of imperfect problems. Focused on results, we solve problems.

When we do, I've learned to keep this in mind. Whatever your solution, it will affect people. Some will like the change, and many will not. Whether or not the solution works could very well depend on how well people receive it, implement it, and support it.

To win the support of people, keep them in mind. Make sure that your solution is good for the process AND good for the people. Avoid trimming the fun out of a project at the expense of the people, just to save a dime. Avoid cutting organizations so such a lean point that people suffer from the burden. Take care of people. At the end of the day, whether you are fixing a process, developing a product, or even changing the world...isn't it all about the people?

Take care of the people as well as the problem. None of it matters without people.

-- doug smit…

What If We're Not the Problem?

Centered problems solvers know that while people are involved in problems, it does no good to ascribe blame. Whose fault is it? It almost doesn't matter, and looking for whose fault it is will distract you from actually solving the problem.

We were all involved.

When we look at it that way, and determine how we can each help contribute to a solution, the problem because more manageable. Solve the problem and let the people be the people.

We need to solve problems without making each other the problem.

No need to add a problem to your problem.

-- doug smith

The Trouble With Taking A Problem Personally

Taking a problem personally just makes it harder to solve.

You've got the problem, AND you've got the upset.

Shake free of the upset when you can (hint: always) and stop taking it personally. The solution is waiting for you to discover/invent/explore it -- do that instead of making stuff up in your head about how it's all

Taking a problem personally just makes it harder to solve.

-- doug smith

It's Not About The Blame

Centered problem solvers don't know everything, but they do know this: blaming someone for your problem just gives you another problem.

Skip the blame. Create a solution.

-- doug smith

The New Problem Is New

Solving a problem gives you confidence, and that's useful. The challenge is that the next problem is brand new. The previous solution likely won't work. The previous process toward reaching that solution might not even work. The new problem is new.

Stay creative. Stay centered. Focus on what you want and find ways to bring that about.

We may not be able to solve our next problem with the solution that worked for the previous problem.

-- doug smith

Catch the Shortcuts

Change can be slow. We plod along. Or, increasingly so, things can change abruptly fast, spinning our heads, altering our internal landscape.

Problems give us a window to a better way. Left unaddressed, most problems will just get worse. But, give attention, focus, and a new direction, problems can send us toward a better way of doing things. Maybe we don't need better gas milage -- maybe we need new ways to fuel our transportation. Maybe we don't need tighter immigration laws --  maybe we need to solve the problems that send people away from their homeland. Maybes abound, and certainties are hard to find. Still, every problem is whispering in our ears, "solve me and see how good it can be."

Problems are shortcuts to a better future.

Take those shortcuts.

-- doug smith


It's frustrating to misunderstand a problem, or to deal with someone you are certain has misunderstood the problem. In that situation, influencing clarity is more difficult, and finding a solution stays clouded in ignorance.

The most troubling problems are rooted in ignorance.

You know that feeling that you're dealing with someone who just doesn't know what's going on? The frustration it causes, the distortion it encourages, the ignorance it perpetuates while frustration mounts?

What if you're that person, and you don't even know it?

The most troubling problems are rooted in ignorance, and sometimes we're the ones who do not know.

Centered problem solvers make room for that possibility - the chance that they do not know what they do not know.

It's not the solution, but it's a start.

-- doug smith

You Might Be Surprised

A problem might be showing us a new way to see a situation. It could be discordant without being destructive.

Some things looks problematic because they're difficult, or unexpected. Centered problem solvers take the time to breathe and to view the problem objectively. What's really going on? How much is situation and how much is perspective.

Inquire into what is going on. You might be surprised.

-- doug smith