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andrewsardone : leadership   4

The Problem with Saying “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions”
Require problem statements instead of complaints. Although you should want people to alert you to potential issues, they need to learn how to distinguish between raising a valid concern and simply complaining. Complaints are stated in absolutes, such as always and never, rather than in concrete facts. They lack accountability and often have villains (them) and heroes (us). And they often don’t look beyond the surface of the issue. For example, “Group Blue never hits their deadlines, and we’re always left holding the bag” is a complaint. It makes an absolute statement, identifies a villain, and doesn’t show any accountability on the part of the speaker.

Problem statements, on the other hand, provide objective facts, examine underlying factors and causes, and reveal everyone’s role in creating the problem, even the person presenting it. A problem statement for the same issue would be something like this: “In the past six months, Group Blue has missed deadlines four times, by an average of 6.5 days. In two cases we were also unprepared to meet the deadline. However, in the other two cases our group completed our part of the project on time, but we had to work weekends to integrate Blue’s late work so that it wouldn’t impact the customer.”

When the issue is presented in the form of a problem statement, it’s much easier to spot the pattern of repeated delays. Because the presenters acknowledge their part in the problem, you know they’re open to being part of solution, not just blaming others. This allows everyone to dig in deeper and identify the root cause of the issue. Perhaps Group Blue needs more resources or isn’t receiving the information they need to complete their work on time. Or maybe the way projects are scheduled fails to account for unexpected events.
team  hbr  business  management  leadership 
september 2017 by andrewsardone

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