Friday, November 13, 2009

The Nature of Problems

How does a problem appear in your mind?

Is it an adversary to be overcome? A puzzle to be solved? A pebble in your shoe? A machine part that needs polishing? A mystery to be measured and unveiled? A demon? A disease? A challenge? An opportunity? A mosquito, an elephant, a gorilla, a gnat, a snake, or some other creature?

How we picture our problems determines how we address them. And do we "address" problems or "solve" them (There's that puzzle again) or "overcome" them?

When you are determining the nature of the problem, the fact that you think of it in a certain way will either be a clue to, or will cloud your view of, the real problem, for problems can hide in the mists of our own reasoning and cloak themselves in our pictures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While Sodoku and crossword puzzles offer recreation for millions of people, our business culture often avoids problems. I've attended many sales meetings where the pervading attitude is "bring me your solutions, not your problems!" Frustrations fester as people sit in their swivel chairs, knowing that the meeting is yet another improvement opportunity squandered.

The "solutions not problems" mentality is dangerous, however, because it crushes knowledge transfer. Unfortunately, many executives confuse "problems" and "whining." They're different, and they should be handled differently. Problems must be managed. Whining occurs when conditions that can't be changed or mitigated are repeatedly aired.

An article I wrote on the topic, "The After Event Review: Use it for Competitive Advantage" describes a process for channeling problems into process improvements.