Don’t Just Point at the Problem

Years ago, I was in a series of meetings with a partner company, and one of their leaders kept taking up big blocks of time in the meeting to talk about some of the significant problems that we were wrestling with. While sometimes it’s useful to step back and make sure everyone understands the context a team is working within, and the specific problems they’re facing; at some point it’s critical that you turn the corner from talking about problems to brainstorming/recommending solutions. This person couldn’t turn that corner, and it became so frustrating that we had to pull one of the senior leaders aside and ask that this person not be invited to future meetings.

This isn’t to say that you should wait to share bad news until you have a perfect solution — that can be a recipe for disaster if a crisis has arrived, and you want to hide it from your boss until you figure it all out.

But it’s also not helpful to an organization to just point at problems — the people who bring real value are the ones who attack the problem, not talk about how big of a problem it is.

The real challenge is finding the balance between not pointing and shouting at problems like your passive and can’t offer suggested solutions, but also not waiting too long working on those solution ideas.

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