5 for 5 – Are you a problem “finder”?

23 Mar

problem finders


Good morning everyone.

As leaders we should all be very familiar with the concept of “problem solvers”. In fact, we are taught from a very young age to be problem solvers. “Your room is mess, please clean it”, “what is the square root of 36”, and so on. In fact, as we bring new talent on to our teams, we typically spend a majority of our time teaching them how to problem solve. “What is the corrective action for that issue?” “How do we close the gap, to meet the customer’s requirements?” Problem solving is nice…and comfortable. Start with a question….end with an answer…..usually fairly black and white.

But problem “finders” have a different angle. They ask “WHY”? Why do we have this shortage continually? Why are our resources being drained over here? They are trend spotters….they notice patterns in markets, organizations, and people. Problem finding is messy as there is no conclusive beginning or ending. It is about generating new ideas. And it can be about failing.

The challenge for all of us is that problem solving is by no means easy. However, if we are only ever solving problems, we are not developing ourselves and not adding key value to our teams. No doubt problem solving gets rewarded, but problem finding that addresses trends so we can avoid issues altogether or capitalize on a new areas of growth which can be far more important.

So leaders, here are some things to think about when it comes to problem finding and your teams:

  • Just like no one is completely introverted or extroverted, none of us can afford to live at the extremes of problem solving and finding.
  • We must learn to listen and observe, to become more aware of the changes happening around us to find the problems that will enable growth and advantage for ourselves, our team, and our organizations.
  • We need to teach our team members to also be aware. Problem finding should never be a top down only mechanism. New ideas can come from many different directions in a team, so everyone must be attuned to process of discovery.
  • Once we have identified the new opportunities, high focus on problem solving, on delivering the new idea, about starting something absolutely has to be the priority.

We must make the development of problem finding competencies as high of a priority as those we constantly sharpen to solve problems. I believe this could truly change the value proposition for many of us as individuals and as teams, as we seek to offer new ideas and insights that could foster the innovation we need to grow with customers and expand into new markets..

(For reference, I was listening to a great podcast produced by David Burkus, the author of “The Myths of Creativity” (see links below) when the topic of problem solving versus problem finding came up. If you are not already subscribing to his Leader Lab podcast, I would highly recommend it.)




Here’s this week’s 5 for 5:

Be a speedboat – by David Hieatt – via davidhieatt.typepad.com


SO WHAT: Being small isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes what you perceive to be an insignificant role is the one with the most freedom to create.

Tags: Creativity


7 Design Tips for Effective, Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations – by Christina Wang – via Shutterstock


SO WHAT: Your choice: you can have boring slides like everyone else or read this article and have amazing slides.

Tags: Presentations


5 Ways to Wow Execs — Don’t Get Mad, Get Even More Prepared – by Nancy Duarte – via LinkedIn


SO WHAT: If you want to influence the decision makers, you better know what they are looking for and get to the point.

Tags: Presentations, Influence


How to shake off rejection like Taylor Swift – by Beth Comstock – via Fortune


SO WHAT: All of us have or will be rejected when pitching an idea. This is great advice to consider the next time your idea gets turned down.

Tags: Leadership


Get Off Your Lazy “But”! – by Gary Vaynerchuk – via Medium


SO WHAT: “Stop saying “but”, and you’ll be forced to move forward” <- Love this!

Tags: Leadership, Start


All the best, kevin