Are you in the group of problem fixers? Problem fixers are important but are they stuck in the mode of tactical assault or productive for the team?
Many workplace employees take great pride in being a problem solver. In fact, they may boast that they spend their day fighting the metaphorical fires.
Problem solving is a good and important skill but is it the answer for strategic momentum?
I still remember the CEO of a group I was working with several years saying in a brainstorming session that, “We’re too big to fail. We have too much history and too much momentum to ever worry about that.” (Yes, he was serious and, yes, this did actually happen.)
Things changed for that organization on a dime about 18 months later. I’ll spare the details but it got really messy fast.
That same group took great pride in the concept that they were expert problem solvers and often spent their days tackling whatever problem popped up at the moment.
They were problem fixers.
Strategic Questions to Ask
Absolutely, problem solving skills are something that every person, especially leadership team members, need. However, when you don’t really have a strategy and you’re only executing tactically, you probably are headed for some problems you didn’t expect to find yourself trying to solve.
The questions you need to ask are the ones that are often hard to answer.
Teams should consider questions like:
- How long has this problem existed?
- Are we trying to fix the problem at the root?
- Are there similar problems popping up and we aren’t even aware?
- What is this problem costing us?
- Are these problems hurting our brand, image, and customers?
- What are we overlooking?
- Is this problem unique to our organization?
- What is this problem costing in productivity and efficiency loss?
- What is the specific challenge about this problem?
- Is the problem causing other problems?
Perhaps the best way to solve problems is to incorporate strategy so that the problem is eliminated and will not happen again. Drama filled problems or problems not solved at the root create an endless cycle of firefighting.
Be proud that you can solve problems but execute strategy every day. Firefighting is a tactical approach that should be used in emergencies.
If your day is filled with emergencies you probably aren’t being strategic.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.