Want Solutions? Ask the Right Questions.


If I have to inform you of a problem and I know you will ask me a series of questions about why it happened, I will prepare by coming up with a series of explanations and rationalizations to justify the problem.qmark master

If I have to inform you of a problem and I know you will ask me a series of questions about how to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again, I will prepare by coming up with a list of possible solutions.

Are you asking the right questions?

Image courtesy of Master / www.digitalphotos.net

Problem Solvers not Finger Pointers


Think about a time when you needed to solve a critical problem and time was of the essence.  Did you care whose fault the problem was? Nope. All you cared about was what information you needed to get a solution, and who and what you needed to implement it.  In a crisis we filter out irrelevant concerns and focus on the task at hand.

fingerpt pakorn

Finger pointers don’t want to focus on solving the problem.  Finger pointers rationalize that there is no need to change anything because they NEVER would have made the mistake that caused the problem.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Image courtesy of Pakorn / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Do people in your business, or personal life expend mental energy finding who to blame for problems, instead of solving the problems and finding ways to prevent them?  If so, why would anyone in that environment try a creative new idea that might take a few tries before working properly?  If people are afraid to make mistakes, forget about them coming up with a creative solution to a problem.  (oh, and financial incentives don’t help either, watch Dan Pink’s TED talk for more on that)

If we want to build a problem solving culture, in which deep thinking on elegant solutions is highly valued, our focus won’t be on who caused the problem.  Our focus will be on what needs to change.  And critically, what help is needed to change it.

The next time someone tells you about a problem that has occurred and your first instinct is to ask, “who’s responsible?”, catch yourself.  Instead, ask, “What do we need to do to fix it?”

Don’t point the finger.  Solve the problem.

The Turning Point Myth


As a society, we love to talk about turning points.

TPoint_Stoonn2That single moment in time when the momentum changes.

There is no such thing.

The notion of a turning point, creates an unrealistic expectation that all we have to do is decide to make the change we want and then continue as we were.

Change doesn’t result from one decision to change.  It results from a continuous series of decisions and actions that confirm our commitment to the change. It doesn’t end. We decide, act, decide and act again.  And we have to decide and act in more ways that support the change than in ways that do not.

What do you want to change? Are you committed to making the necessary decisions, again and again and again?  And again?          And again?

Image courtesy Stoonn / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Enjoy These Years!


Enjoy These Years!

Click the link to view my Dad’s Den column in Backpack Quinte Magazine – “Enjoy these years!”

What’s in a name?


So, I’ve done a few blogs now, and had some great fun watching my stats – I’m up to 92 views now!  Feedback has been pretty positive, but I’ve had some comments on the name – “Work Doesn’t Have to Suck”.  Some felt it was pejorative and doesn’t speak to the right audience.  Some background; the name came to me about a year ago in a moment of inspiration at the company I worked for. As a senior manager, I was trying to figure out how to improve our culture, thinking about our challenges, and the general mood around the office and the line just hit me.  I immediately wrote it on my whiteboard and it’s stuck with me ever since.  When I think about why I’m doing what I do now, I pretty much always come back to it. Instead of being pejorative, I think it’s optimistic.  As individuals we can decide to have an attitude of engagement and enjoy what we do.  As Executives and Managers, we have the ability and responsibility to create an environment that fosters engagement and makes people believe in the importance of the work they do.  And so, I like the title.  Maybe a bit edgy, but I think that’s okay too.

Besides, I think that there is a very large group of people out there, many of whom are quite successful, who can relate to to the sentiment on some level. Case in point, I sent an email to a friend from high school who owns an architecture firm in California. I hadn’t spoken to him in years but we connected on LinkedIn so I thought I’d let him know about the blog.  His reply,  “I will check out the blog.  Though I think I disagree with the thesis.  I look forward to being enlightened.”  Perfect.

Through this blogging journey I’m on, I hope to provide some unique insights based on my experiences and the frame through which I view them.  In addition, hopefully I can provide some practical tips, advice, and get the odd laugh.  Above all, if I provoke some thought about how to improve performance on an individual and organizational level; mission accomplished.

Through the comments section, let me know what you think – about the title or anything else.  I’ll post more links to other interesting, fun, or informative blogs or sites I come across.  Get on board, and let’s go for a ride!

Mike