Stop Admiring the Problem

Is your team stuck in the habit of “Admiring the Problem”?

It’s easy (and sometime fun) to sit in a meeting and talk about a problem.

  • What do you think of the problem?
  • How critical is the problem?
  • Who caused the problem?
  • How many people are affected by the problem?
  • What are we not accomplishing because of this problem?

And why not admire them?

Plenty of companies have huge, cross-functional hairball issues that have built up through years of neglect.

They are impressive. They are intimidating. By now they have become old friends. They are often “named” like pets and are part of the company culture. (e.g. “The Spaghetti Bowl” or “The Distribution Issue”)

Admiring them is a whole lot easier than actually scoping and defining the problem, determining root causes, creating action items, coming up with options for solutions and solving it.

If any of this is sounding familiar, you need to get out of that particular rut and try something new:

  • Name the behavior – Point out that your team is admiring the problem. Remember, it’s so fun, people may not even realize they are doing it. The first step to admitting you have a problem…
  • Enlist a trained resource – Get a program manager or team facilitator to come in and help get a scope statement and action items on paper with a timeline for resolution.
  • Use a methodology – There are plenty of problem-solving methodologies out there. Find one that is different from what the team may be used to. It may help shake up the team a bit and get a fresh start on defining the problem.
  • Phone a friend – “Regis, I’d like to phone a friend …” Talk to someone outside your team / department / company about how they would tackle the problem. A fresh perspective not tainted by team history may provide a clue on how to start.

So the next time you hear the beginnings of a swirly conversation, “Goodness, how did this get to be such a big problem?” or “Why do we always come back to this problem?” – – shake it up.  Stop admiring the problem and try one of the options above.

That problem isn’t going to solve itself!

Until next time … wishing you business readiness success!

Kirsten Jordan is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @Kirstenkbdb.