Problem-solving and change management are very close to one another. I see it in the pattern of behavior where leaders resist change and avoid problem-solving.
Why is this?
It is actually quite easy to pinpoint. Here are two of the reasons.
First, they have never learned how to solve problems.
Second, they correctly assume that solutions imply change.
I recently published a short book called Solving Problems: A Guide To Being A Person of Impact. Yes, it is simply a book on problem-solving. It helps people learn a simple process for solving problems that can be applied in almost any situation. It is based upon my Circle of Impact model of leadership.
When people solve their own problems, they also gain skills in communication, collaboration, and innovation. All are leadership skills that everyone needs to acquire regardless of the position that they have in the organization. What, then, is the impact of this approach to leadership. In simple terms, it moves an organization from being leadership starved to being leader-rich. More definitively, it decentralizes the capacity of an organization to solve its problems. I saw this effect in an organization that I served many years ago. Small problems flowed up through the hierarchy to the vice-president’s desk. By then a problem had turned into an issue between the company and the union. When the company implemented a program to train and support all their employees in practicing these leadership skills, the trust level in the company grew, ultimately gaining the awareness of Forbes magazine in their annual list of most trustworthy companies. This is the potential that results from elevating the leadership capacity of people.
In the mid-1990s, I started my consulting practice with the aim of helping leaders strengthen their organizations, with the larger goal of strengthening their local communities. As one project after another came, a pattern began to emerge. Problems presented to me often turned out to be symptoms of more complex problems. These were not isolated incidents. The situations and the kinds of organizations were not similar. Their problems were similar. But more importantly, they were not getting resolved by the way we have all learned to solve problems. For as long as I’ve been working in organizations, the belief has been that the solution is in the problem itself. This approach failed to understand that there is always more going on than the problem itself.
We need to understand, “What do I have to offer to the world?”
Say that to yourself.
What do I have to offer the world?
Say it out loud if you want, emphasizing the “doing” of the offer.
What do I have to offer the world?
Write the sentence down. Look at it again.
Open up your hands palms up. Extend them out in front of you as if you are giving something to someone. In your hands is what you have to offer. It is the gift that you give to people, organizations, and places that makes a difference that matters.
Now imagine that every day you climb out of bed to offer the world all the unrealized potential that rests in your hands right now.
We are now beginning to see that our unrealized potential is not some abstract value, but something real that we have to offer. Something tangible that can make a real difference in the world. We are recognizing that we have within ourselves is a capacity for making a difference that maybe we’ve never thought about before.
In your hands is the power to bring change that creates goodness wherever you are, even at work, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
To learn what we have to offer is a process of self-discovery. We realize all we have been storing away, out of sight, out of mind, down deep in inside all these years. It is all we’ve learned, gained, and developed in the way of knowledge and experience throughout our lifetime.