Dear Leaders, Stop Admiring Your Problems

Author: The Effective Syndicate | | Categories: Leadership

Dear Leaders, Stop Admiring Your Problems.jpg

Facing the Insurmountable

During one of my early kaizens (I was serving as the Kaizen lead under the watchful eye of my sensei), we had uncovered what our team thought was the world’s most unsolvable problem, just slightly smaller than world hunger. I was relatively new at kaizen facilitation and I too was convinced it was too big and complicated to be resolved. When my sensei came around and asked me how it was going, I went into great detail explaining it to him. He then asked a few questions of me and the kaizen team and listened patiently while we articulated one issue after the next. After a few minutes of our brilliant problem articulation, he simply said:

“When you all are finished admiring this problem, come get me and we will get started fixing it.”

And with that he left. We were all a bit stunned and maybe a bit insulted. I quickly chased after him and brought him back to the team meeting room. He then started at the beginning of our process map and each step along the way that had a problem, he made us come up with 3 different possible ways we could improve each problem that came up.

Conquering the Insurmountable

Once we went through the whole map, he handed me the marker back and said, “Okay, Beau. Take each of the 3 options and see if you can figure out the best option and implement it. And if you cannot figure out which one is best, try all 3 of them to see which one is the most effective and implement that one.”

When attempting to conquer the “unconquerable,” they keys to your approach are:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Formulate 3 possible solutions to each aspect of the problem
  3. Implement the solutions to attack the problem

It was a great teaching moment and one that I keep with me today. It is easy to fall into the mode of seeing a problem as insurmountable, and it is much easier to find a reason not to do something than to do something. “Admiring the problem,” or justifying with reasons the problem seemingly can’t be solved, may seem easier in the moment, but can have damaging effects.

However, if you are truly in pursuit of excellence, there are very few things on the planet that cannot be improved. Stop admiring the problems and look for alternatives. If you need help in finding alternatives, give us a call, we would love to help.

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