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If Your Have the Same Problem Over and Over...

If you have the same problem that you had a year ago you have not yet found the real problem.

-- doug smith


First, It Starts In Front of You

Keep your biggest problem in front of you so that you can put it behind you.

-- doug smith


Find It

The answer to a problem is not always obvious, but it is always there.

Find it.

-- doug smith


Choose Learning and Growth

Problems are aggravating, inconvenient, and frustrating. High performance leaders -- successful supervisors -- build muscle around solving problems that comes from practice, application, and outright solving. One problem after another, solutions come from facing the problems head-on.

A problem could lead to frustration, OR it could lead to learning and growth.

Go with learning and growth.

-- doug smith

Should You Talk About Your Problem?

You might not solve that problem by talking about it, but what if you did?

Centered problem solvers create dialogue. They listen and share in order to reach mutual understanding. The first step to mutual agreement on the solution to a problem is to understand the problem AND each other.

Got a problem? Talk about it.

-- doug smith


Find the Help You Need

All the problems you keep to yourself, keep you.

Find the help you need. It's not all up to you.

-- doug smith


Use These Four Strengths

What do you think it all comes down to?

When it comes to leadership, and problem solving, I believe that we have the ability to develop four core strengths (five, if you count centering and balancing all four). Developing those strengths helps us accomplish our goals, solve problems, lead and live more effectively.

Create more balance. Create more focus. Identify ways to develop these five core strengths.

How many problems could stand up to you using all of your clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion?
-- doug smith


We Are More Than Ready

Our problems are no match for our strengths.

-- doug smith

How to Analyze Root Cause Using Mind Maps

The Five Why's is a famous and useful tool for conducting a root cause analysis in problem solving. I've applied the idea of asking why five (more or less) times to get at the root cause and applied it to mind mapping. Since many problems have more than one cause, applying the process to a mind map keeps the door open for identifying many possible causes. While any one may appear to be the root cause, it is only in comparing all of them that you can clearly see the best opportunity. Here's the process that I use:


Start your mind map by writing your problem in the center. (In the example above, Stairway Accidents is the problem.)Radiat out reasons why there is a problem. What are the causes? What causes that cause? ("what causes" is as useful as "why" and without the emotional turmoil.)For each cause, ask why it's true or what causes it. Why that cause? What causes that - and radiate out your answers.Some "what causes that" may produce more…

Build, Not Break

It's risky to ascribe motives to a problem. A problem is a situation, not an intention. And yet, we often do, don't we? We think of a problem with a personality out to do us harm. We can even think that a problem is out to break us, to wear us down until we don't matter. That is not true. The problem - the situation - does not care. When we pause to identify the goal that we want, instead of focusing on the problem, we can identify ways to achieve that goal and build our way out of trouble and into success.

A problem does not need to break you.

Problems are meant to build you, not break you.

-- doug smith



Go Beyond Analysis

Do you enjoy analyzing a problem? I can analyze all day long. It is useful, and it's even satisfying. But it does not solve the problem. Problems are persistent and do not care about your analysis. To fix a problem, we've got to do something.

Your problem will probably survive analysis. Do more.

-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action: Think about a problem that you have been analyzing recently. If you have not already done so, write down all the possible causes of that problem.
What is your next step beyond analysis? What part of that step can you do this week?