Solving the wrong problem is more common for teams and leaders than we think. People with ideas and solutions jump to the head of the line and steer teams off the path. Leaders who stand for action don’t spend enough time thinking through the root cause of an issue. As a result, we often solve the wrong problem and suffer the consequences when the symptoms of the problem remain, as the real issues are left unattended.
Spending the time upfront to examine the problem and state it for all to evaluate is a deliberate act of great leaders and decision-makers. Not doing so promotes the risk of solving a problem that is peripheral, but not central. Just when we think we have made progress, we find that the real problem has been ignored due to our rush forward.
Take a pause and “admire the problem” by first agreeing on what is behind it. Leaders who can formulate clear problem statements get more done for obvious reasons.
Defining the problem accurately is THE essential first step in all great decision-making. The best leaders commit the time to do this. Albert Einstein reportedly put it this way: “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”
So, what’s the problem?