Sometimes we are so deep into a problem that we can no longer see the causes. What is right in front of us is so familiar that it seems perfectly normal and normally perfect. It's not, of course. That's one of the reasons that it is a problem. But, it's probably not the main reason (or even in the top three reasons).
To see clearly the exact causes of a problem takes a certain amount of detachment. Sometimes we can affect this detachment on our own, and sometimes we are so close to the problem that we cannot detach ourselves from the results.
Problems can be clarified by those with no stake in the results but are best solved by those who do.
It's easy to see that someone has a drinking problem but hard to stop if you're that person. It's easy to see a broken customer service process but hard to stop doing what you have been trying to do to make that demanding customer happy. It is two completely different things: diagnosis and solution. Why do we pretend that we can do both in one close motion?
The more we communicate, the easier it becomes to work with those who do not have a stake in our problems and yet have some clarity about what they are. It does NOT mean that we should trust the solutions to outsiders -- what do they care about how uncomfortable or ill-fitting the solutions are?
But they can help to spot the root causes of problems.
Once we have clarity about that, solving the problem is best left to those who care about how it turns out. Usually, the people IN a problem already have the solution -- what they need is a little clarity, courage, creativity and compassion.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
What problem would you most like to solve this month?
Who do you know who might have some insight to the causes of your most pressing problem?
How skilled are you at providing feedback about someone else's problem without trying to solve it for them?
What happens when we try to solve someone else's problems?
What can you do today to clarify your approach to problem solving?
-- Douglas Brent Smith