Wow, it seems like the complete northern hemisphere is experiencing one of the warmest summers ever. Global warming is here, whether we like it or not. And this month, we have the letter “S” that could be “summer”, however I chose the word SOLUTION.
The world learned about problem-solving this month as 12 youngters of a soccer team and their coach were rescued from a cave in northern Thailand. I’m sure you heard of it; if it’s not the case, you can watch this summary on YouTube (10:44 min.).
I followed this story closely because I was fascinated by the determination, the international cooperation and the team work that the whole operation (including the volunteers) represented. On top, I visited that country many times and admire the strong sense of community that Thai people have.
Somewhere on the operation site, there was a white board showing the “rules” for the joint task force operation:
“We are here 4 the same purpose
!!! RESPECT !!!
* Speak human language!
* Communicate: clear, concise and direct (to the point)
* Respect diversity
* No discrimination
* No idea is a stupid idea
We’re only one TEAM”
How simple is that? It seems to have been a strong basis to find and execute a SOLUTION that worked beyond expectations (we have to keep in mind that one diver lost his life).
A SOLUTION is not always black and white: it can be a compromise or a combination of ideas or something that needs time to grow and mature. It depends of course on the nature of the problem to be solved. And a SOLUTION can also be an idea that strikes like lightning, like “eureka, I know exactly how to solve this!”.
What kind of person are you? Do you tend to rather see the problem? Or do you tend to see the SOLUTION?
If you rather see the problem, I encourage you to allow the SOLUTIONS that the “SOLUTION-lovers” will suggest you before you see the next problem. Your strength lies in making sure that possible problems are properly identified. After that, you trust that a “SOLUTION-lover” has constructive options to solve these problems.
If you rather see the SOLUTION, I encourage you to listen to the “problem-lover” and to press on the pause button before you make any comment. Maybe parts of the described problem hide the ideal SOLUTION that you had not even thought of yourself. Your strength is to make sure that no identified problem is left without a constructive SOLUTION.
Now, you’ve noticed that these two types of persons complement each other. In my January blog on motivation, I mentioned the “towards” and “away from” patterns that can respectively be compared to the “SOLUTION-lover” and the “problem-lover”.
How is it in your team? Or even in your family? If too many people see the problems, it is very likely that the team will not move forward and reach its goals. If too many people see the SOLUTIONS (= don’t want to see the problems to start with), they will not be well prepared to solve these problems once they occur.
As groups of individuals, societies and cultures also show these patterns. As a Canadian living in Germany, I feel at times that a lot of effort is spent to understand where a problem comes from and who is responsible for it. I often consider this as wasted time because I want to find and implement a SOLUTION right away! This “feeling” was confirmed a while ago when I attended a conference here in Germany. A German who had been doing business in Canada for many years mentioned that when a problem occurs, the Canadians will say “ok, what do we do next” instead of dwelling on “what happened”. Both approaches have their pros and cons: the best of both worlds needs to be part of the discussion.
Noticing how successful the rescue operation worked out in Thailand, there must have been a healthy balance of “problem-lovers” and “SOLUTION-lovers”. Or maybe the concept was much simpler than that: everyone involved just followed the “rules” mentioned above and it led to the positive outcome. What would happen if your team, your company, your family would also follow these rules?
As a conclusion, I want to leave you with this:
“Next time you meet a problem, shake hands and offer a SOLUTION.”
Enjoy your week!