Never Ending Debates?

Eidolonai March 25, 2018

Are your leaders over-collaborating?

Not only have leaders been challenged to become facile in collaboration and team work, but when they bulldoze or bully others into submission, their careers are often affected adversely. They are held accountable on performance reviews, in discussions with HR and often with admonishment from superiors.

The Real Problem

For those of us who are impatient, listening to the endless discussions with little resolution to key issues might cause us to secretly wish for a bona fide bully to come back and save us. Be careful what you wish for. It is possible you are jumping too quickly to a solution.
And that is the core of the problem.
What we have lost that is of value are not our bullies. They should stay in the past. We have lost our appetite for proper problem solving. Correct problem solving is a very precise discipline, with mandatory steps.

What Can YOU Do?

Take note of the debates in your organization and observe how many of them circle around solutions (“answers”) before there has been any definition of the problem or criteria setting for the solution.
If you want to help get decision making moving again in your group, try paying attention to classic problem solving discipline. Here is a brief (oversimplified) outline of steps that can help you refocus your group:

Define the problem you are trying to solve. This step should be the longest step in your process.
Identify the most significant cause to your problem before you begin discussing solutions. List all of the causes.
Determine a list of criteria for your solution before you discuss what you will do. Be sure to include issues like resources and time.
After making a list of all possible solutions, choose your solution based on the criteria you have established.

If there is still an argument of solutions, you might try having everyone place a number from 1 to 4 against each solution. The number 4 would indicate “critical” to do. #3 would be a vote for “important but not critical”. #2 would be an indication of “nice to do” and #1 would be a belief that it was unimportant. Such a vote will add a tremendous amount of clarity to your process.

Help your group to recognize and remind people when they leap immediately to solutions. If there is no clear problem definition to point to, or no list of criteria for your solutions, you will never get past the debate (without bullying) because there is nothing concrete against which you can evaluate your choice.

Toni Lynn Chinoy is an executive coach and consultant on effective organizational change. She has published multiple leadership books with practical, insightful guidance for navigating in today’s businesses. Her books can be applied to any life issue and might even be considered Life Mastery books.

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