How Good Is Your Company at Problem Solving ?

11 12 2017

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.       Abraham Maslow

When challenged with new problems, we often tend to figure out what the problems are instead of actually solving them. It seems that we get stuck and confused in such challenging situations.

From this interesting article; “Are You Solving the Right Problems ?“, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, has through his research on corporate innovation together with his colleague Paddy Miller, spent close to 10 years working with and studying reframing, first of all in the context of organisational change.

Wedell-Wedellsborg; “It has been 40 years since Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jacob Gretzels empirically demonstrated the central role of problem framing in creativity. Thinkers from Albert Einstein to Peter Drucker have emphasised the importance of properly diagnosing your problems. So why do organisations still struggle to get it right ?

The author explains us that people often finds themselves digging deeper into the problems they’re already defined, instead of arriving at another diagnosis which of course may be helpful, but creative solutions is very often coming from an alternative way and definitions of your problem. Author; ” Note that the initial framing of the problem is not necessarily wrong. Installing a new lift would probably work. The point of refraiming is not to find the ‘real problem’ but rather to see if there is a better one to solve”.

The solution to this problem is according Wedellsborg, a new approach, where he includes the form of seven practices where you successfully can reframe the problems as well as finding creative solutions. Author; “The practise I outline here can be used in one of two ways, depending on how much control you have over the situation. One way is to methodically apply all seven to the problem. That can be done in about 30 minutes, and it has the benefit of familiarising everyone with the method”.

The other way is when you don’t control the situation, it all depends on how much time is available. For example if you meet a colleague in the hall-way and you only have limited time for him/her to help rethink a problem, then you choose the most appropriate and suitable of the one or two practices. Author; ” Five minutes may sound like too little time to even describe a problem, much less reframe it. But surprisingly, I have found that such short interventions often are  sufficient to kick-start new thinking – and once in a while they can trigger an aha moment and radically shift your view of a problem”.

Proximity to your own problems can easily mislead you to get lost in the weeds. Feeling unwell or sick is often seen as a problem. We then visit the doctor to figure out what’s wrong. To do this, the doctor investigates to find a solution or treatment to the problem. On the other hand, if you choose to stay home, you can complain and wonder why you’re sick, but it will not change the fact that you’re still sick.

Author; “Proximity to your own problems can make it easy to get lost in the weeds, endlessly ruminating about why a colleague, a spouse, or your children won’t listen. Sometimes all you need is someone to suggest, well, could the trouble be that you are bad at listening to them ?

Here the author outlines seven practices for effective reframing: 1. Establish legitimacy, 2. Bring outsiders into the discussion, 3. Get people’s definitions in writing, 4. Ask what’s missing, 5. Consider multiple categories, 6. Analyse positive exceptions, 7. Question the objective.

Establish legitimacy. The author tells us to establish legitimacy within the group and here you are creating the space needed for conversations.

Bring outsiders into the discussion. Bringing outsiders view and perspective can in this situation be instrumental in the rethinking process of a problem. In this process you look for boundary, then you choose someone who will speak freely, and the last one; expect input, not solutions.

Get people’s definitions in writing. Author; “For instance, a management team may agree that the company’s problem is a lack of innovation. But if you ask each member to describe what’s wrong in a sentence or two you will quickly see how framings differ.

Ask what’s missing. In this situation, people tend to delve on the details of what is the case as well as paying less attention to what the description may be leaving out. Author; To rectify this, make sure to ask explicitly what has not been captured or mentioned”.

Consider multiple categories. In this case the author refers to people’s perception of a problem. Author; “One way to trigger this kind of paradigm shift is to invite people to identify specifically what category of problem they think the group is facing. Is it an incentive problem ? An expectations problem ? Then try to suggest other categories”.

Analyze positive exceptions. In this situation you are looking for positive outcomes instead of focusing on the problems.

Question the objective. Here the author are focusing on people with different needs. Author; “The underlying goals of the two turns out to differ: One person wants fresh air, while the other wants to avoid a draft. Only when these hidden objectives are brought to light through the question of a third person is the problem resolved – by opening a window in the next room”.

Reframing problems are hard and difficult, but according the author a very effective method. The most important goal is to find a solution for your companys problems.

Author; “The next time you face a problem, start by reframing it – but don’t wait too long before getting out of the building to observe your customers and prototype your ideas. It is neither thinking nor testing alone, but a marriage of the two, that holds the key to radically better results”.

It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem.       Malcolm Forbes

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, Master of Science in Change Management

 





Humility in Leadership Matters.

17 04 2015

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.         Confucius

“If you lead, or aspire to lead, people in an organization, then you must make many assessments every day. Think of the job you have right now. Before deciding to join your organization, you had to assess the company or organisation – the location , pay package, and opportunity for advancement. However, it is unlikely that any of the assessments that you made – or continue to make – are more important than the assessments you make of people. That is the Pope Francis imperative; people first, and then everything else follows”.

Jeffrey A Krames is a bestselling author and has written; Lead with Humility. This is a book about Pope Francis leadership style. The author translates the popes key issues as well as his ideas and practices into practical tactics which anyone can copy.

Pope Francis is a great man with a big heart and is a leader among leaders, and has also proven that he is a man of the people. Francis makes us aware that we need to understand that leaders lead people and not institutions. Francis; “Unfortunately, too few people understand this in an increasingly impersonal, high-tech working environment”

Krames, makes us aware that fewer leaders roam the halls of our largest corporations as well as setting positive examples of effective leadership. Pope Francis is a great example with his unique leadership style in action and his genuineness which people can see from the Pope.

Kramer; “However, leadership is not about perfection; it is about espousing a new vision and getting others to live that vision. In that respect, Pope Francis has been incredibly successful. Peter Drucker would call him a ‘natural’, a ‘born’ leader”.

Pope Francis would be the last person to call himself a natural leader or a born leader, such self-praise would be completely out of character for him.

Krames refers to a Harvard Business Review blog post that makes us aware of the amount of scores of books, articles, and studies that warn us of the perils of hubris – and yet the attribute of humility seems to be neglected. The blog post inform us that the attribute of humility seems to be neglected; in leadership development programs; Perhaps this owes to some feeling that humility would hold a leader back, these mavericks and sui generic leaders who dislike being restrained” Others may feel they are humble enough, and many might feel that humility can’t be taught or learned. “You have it or you don’t, so reading a book on it would not add to their ‘humility quotient’.

Krames refers to what Bergoglio wrote before becoming pope; “If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world”. Krames; “And he misses no opportunity to show that a person can never be too humble and that people can learn to be more humble.

Leadership is all about people stuff. A key element of  a leader is to set goals and create performance indicators. The employees should be empowered to solve problems as well as achieving results. This will enable innovation and create trust. A prerequisite of a leader, is an open dialogue with their employees to clarify what goals are, and equally important, what they are not. Open communication will help visualize the expectancy the leader has of the employees and avoid misunderstanding.  ( My blog)

Francis; “We have to be humble, but with real humility, from head-to-toe”.

Here are some of Francis important leadership lessons;

– The first one if you are fortunate to be a leader, do not to use your position for selfish reasons.

– Do not signalize to workers or colleagues that you are above them

– Move out of your corner office to an inside office or even a cubicle

Krames; “Engaging people in an in-depth conversation is near the top of Pope Francis’s leadership to-do list. Bergoglio; “Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion, and their proposals. Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a preemptive condemnation. To dialogue, one must know how to lower the defences, to open the door’s of one’s home and to offer warmth”.

Kramer makes us aware of Bergoglio’s pragmatism which makes him capable of understanding the roadblocks to successful communication. “There are many barriers in everyday life that impede dialogue; misinformation, gossip, prejudices, defamation, and slander.”

Warren Bennis; “Leaders come in every size, shape, and disposition-short, tall, neat, sloppy, young, old, male, and female. Nevertheless, they all seem to share some, if not all, of the following ingredients; The first basic ingredient of leadership is a guiding vision, passion, integrity, trust, curiosity and daring.

Integrity in Bennis mind, consists of three essential parts; self-knowledge, candor, and maturity.

Bennis; “Know thyself, was the inscription over the Oracle at Delphi. And it is still the most difficult task any of us faces. But until you truly know yourself, strenghts and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word”.

Inclusion means leaving no one behind. In todays world, people works together with people from different cultures, and you have to adapt to each other. Many organizations has a challenge in getting better to open up for inclusion. “Leaving no one behind” is the essence of Francis.

Krames;” That is the difference between Pope Francis and so many other leaders in our society. Leaders in government and business often say something because they know that it is what various constituencies want to hear. But when Francis says something, he speaks from the truth of personal experience, and he operates not by appealing to influential minorities but by empowering the people he serves”.

Humility in leadership is all about their people.

Human self-understanding changes with time, and so also human consciousness deepens.            Pope Francis

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/








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