When faced with a challenge, we can adopt one of two stances.
We can either adopt a problem-solving approach, or one that is a problem-persisting approach. In a problem-solving approach, we see the problem as a situation waiting for ideas and potential ways to move past it. In a problem-persisting approach, we choose to avoid looking for solutions, in favor of continued commenting on the problem.
Often, when we feel we don’t have the skills to solve a problem, or we feel that we don’t want to invest the energy in devising the solutions, we perseverate on the problem, talking about how difficult it is, why we can’t solve it, why the resources aren’t right, the people are wrong, etc. And, too often, when faced with big challenges, we default to this approach.
The benefit, of course, of a problem-solving approach is that people have the desired goal of coming up with a solution in the end. And, in the best cases, the people at the table are just as comfortable being wrong as they are being right. All ideas are shared, and no ideas are seen as being “ridiculous.” Rather, every idea builds on another, and through that process, the best solutions bubble to the top.
Another benefit of a problem-solving approach? By its nature, it encourages people to work together, and to make a single problem, everybody’s problem. Often, it isn’t only the ideas that are valuable, but the multiple perspectives that problem-solving with large groups brings. Thinking about most juicy problems as everybody’s problems is incredibly useful to growing the best solutions!