How many times have you heard this adage? –
“Don’t come to me with a Problem, come with a Solution”.
While this pushed managers to foster a culture of solution thinking – it may, to some degree, have shunted the openness to surface problems. And lesser problem statements meant limited levels or quantum of innovation and learning.
Hence, I propose we make a couple of strategic adjustments to that statement and make it:
“Come to me not only with the Problem, but also a Solution Mindset”
Modern era is all about Solving Problems. More and more companies are reshaping their Purpose and Strategy around direct correlation to specific Problems in the world that they can solve with a competitive advantage to stay relevant and successful. And the organization culture to aid that pursuit is increasingly focused around changing from “do/act” to “solve/impact”. Furthermore, organization systems are increasingly becoming interdependent collaborative networks that are consistently inundated with problem solving situation arising out of shared processes and systems. Its here, the need to play with the right mindset, becomes important.
So, what is Solution Mindset?
Simply put, it is a choice we make while facing a problem – to look ahead, thinking “What’s next? How do we move forward from here?” (Instead of “What’s wrong? What is not working? Who’s responsible? etc.”).
That probably is an over simplified definition of the term, yet to me this is where it starts – with a choice. Whether I want to look backwards or forward. And solution is always ahead (forward).
How can we play more with a Solution Mindset?
- Seek more clarity on – What is the Problem? What is the need for the solution? Who are playing & who is impacted? What is the urgency around it (timelines)? What are the qualitative expectations (Impact)?
- Own my part by asking – What can I do to solve it (my role)? How can I help moving it towards solution?
- Help Others move forward – by providing the necessary clarity, information, support and encouragement needed, by engaging in forward looking (optimistic) dialogues that help move forward and solve (What can I do to help you solve this? What do we do next? Where do we go from here? What’s the next best thing to do?), by intentionally steering the conversations away from the Problem, its cause (what’s not working) etc.
- Capture the learning from the journey for future
At the end, it’s a choice we make – to play with the Problem Mindset or Solution Mindset. One takes us back and keeps us there. The other moves us forward and creates opportunities to learn, innovate and improve.
World will be a much transformed place when we can replace the question:
“What Can I do for you”
“What can I solve for you?”
Sheel Majumdar, leads HR for Microsoft Philippines.
His posts can be read here