The One Thing You Must Do To Solve Your Toughest Problems

I often meet leaders who are trying to solve tough problems.  In this day and age, problems are everywhere and it is easy to get stuck in them.

Despite what many leaders think, solving a complex problem isn’t achieved by:

  • Being decisive
  • Creating a plan
  • Assigning work
  • Tackling it head on

Instead, solving our most vexing problem requires us to clearly understand the problem we are trying to solve.

Think about this for a second.  How many times have you been involved in a project or initiative that required a ton of work, only to find out that it didn’t solve the problem you intended to solve?  Why does this happen?  How do problems seem to skirt past our efforts to abolish them?

It happens because the presenting problem is almost never the real problem.

It happens because leaders and teams misdiagnose problems all of the time.

So here is the one thing you must do to solve the toughest problems:

Engage others in conversations in order to thoroughly understand the problem you are facing!

When you engage in conversations, you focus energy and allow solutions to emerge.  People bring alternative perspectives and experiences to the table, which creates an environment for creative thinking.  When you encourage creativity, magical things start to happen.  As people start to discuss a problem, the problem often changes or morphs into something different.  Sometimes the problem disappears completely.

By putting problems on the table and looking at the problems from alternative perspectives you solve them more efficiently.  This happens all the time in the C-suite but it needs to happen at all levels of organizations.

So the next time you are presented with a problem, consider discussing it thoroughly.  Don’t be too quick to act or try to tackle it head on.  Far too often a quick approach results in misunderstandings and wasted effort.  As a great leader, it is your duty to fully understand the problems that plague your organization and help others do the same.

Questions:  When have you messed up and wasted time and energy on a problem that was misunderstood?  What would have happened if you took more time to discuss the situation thoroughly?