“Make people think for themselves and they’ll get better at it.” – Your Oxygen Mask First

When it comes to a business issue, problem solving logic tells us that it needs to be solved but, sometimes, it’s better to leave it alone. We can get so caught up jumping in to find a solution that we lose sight about what can have the biggest impact on our project or business.

There are two questions to ask:

1. Does the problem actually need to be solved?

For example: A problem may be a 25¢ issue with a 25¢ downside (zero risk). Don’t get consumed with the issue when there’s a $50,000 opportunity you can work on for one of your customers.

Problem solving logic makes the issue seem important and seductive, a fire you want to put out. If it’s close to people’s homes, of course you need to take care of it, but, in reality, some fires just need to burn themselves out.

If you take care of every little problem, you’ll have a neat, orderly small business. If you want to grow and progress, you have to pick your problems.

2. Do I need to be involved?

As a leader, your role is to make sure people are clear on their priorities, and to support them when they need help. Solving a problem can be very satisfying but if you do all the thinking, you will underutilize your team.

Your role is to grow and develop people into being more capable. Get them to find a solution or get back to you with options.

The Challenge

  • What 25¢ problems are you and your team currently putting energy into?
  • Are you involved in a problem or opportunity that doesn’t really need your attention? Think of these as great opportunities for someone on your team.
  • On the flip side, what problems or opportunities should you be more involved in?

If you’re not sure, review Chapter 12, Stop Being Chief Problem Solver in my book.