During our recent walk on the Camino in Spain we met a young guy with a big hat on a remote mountain. Miguel was selling cold drinks and water to pilgrims and at the same time giving them an arm band with wise words written on them. I got the quote: “analyze, understand and resolve.”
Words so true and important both in a personal context and how we should deal with problems and conflicts at the organizational level.
It comes to mind that organizations in the corporate world and leaders who learn from mistakes are extremely rare. My experience: The bigger the organization the more slow and complex the decision-making process. Most managers are afraid to take the blame if something goes wrong.
It is deeply ingrained in our culture from early childhood. Admitting failure means taking the blame and living with the resulting shame and consequences. That is why so few organizations have systems in place where the potential of learning from failure can be fully realized. The recent diesel scandal at Volkswagen is a classic example. Many of the executives and managers at top level were obviously aware that something was seriously wrong in manipulating emission requirements. But the rigid hierarchy culture at that level obviously made it very unsafe to admit and report the failure of engineers.
Failures and mistakes, especially where human interaction is involved, is inevitable. It is a by-product of a creative and experimental culture that leads to innovation. To consider them bad or avoidable is counterproductive. In fact such a culture will produce major calamities as we have seen with VW.
On a personal level we often dwell endlessly over a problem or fall into a freeze mode out of shame if we have really messed it up. We also tend to blame the situation on external factors but do the opposite when assessing the mistakes of others.
Here are some problem solving tips:
- Analyze the reasons that led to the problem
- Identify several possible problem solving options and write them down. This is getting clarity in understanding why something went wrong.
- Occupy your mind with other things like taking a walk or sleeping over it for a night
- Prioritize your options and then take a decision that leads to resolution
Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters
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