Don’t admire the problem

Do something about it, or stop talking about it

It’s easy to identify a problem.
It’s easy to point out things that aren’t working well somewhere.
And it’s even easy to come up with ideas about how things might be better. Particularly if those things are outside your remit/responsibility, and so it’s not your problem to fix.

“I can’t believe [insert name of other team/business unit] are doing that.”

“I can’t believe that [insert name of broken process] works like that. That’s crap.”

Talking about problems like this in a team can be a way to bond — it’s you together identifying a common enemy. If you’re a team leader, it can be tempting when your teams have discussions like this, because uniting against a common problem is a quick way for a group of people to rally together.

“We can all agree that X is crap, that X is a problem.”

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However, a group of people discussing a problem does not make it any better. In fact, if nothing happens as a result of that discussion, all you’ve done is waste time. You’ve admired the problem.

What it takes to move past that is for someone to grab the issue and work to make it better. That takes energy, commitment and follow through.

If the team decide you are going to try to solve the problem, great!
But if your team is indulging in admiring problems, better to call it out.

“So, what are we going to do about it?”

Is this problem something that you’re going to work to resolve, or are you going on to focus on the things that you can improve?

Instead of spending time bonding around a problem that you’re not going to solve, it’s better to unite around a common purpose.

Written by

Senior Director @ElsevierConnect doing product strategy implementation & performance. Mainly writing about getting from A to B, & digital stuff. Personal acc’t.

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