Problem Solving Or Management?


Continuing the theme of execution:

As leaders and managers, we have been taught to find the root cause and fix the problem.  And, in my experience, some problems can’t be “solved” (and, hopefully, made to go away) – they must be managed and may require the leader’s repetitive attention and time.

For me the key word here is repetition. For anything to be sustainable, it must be repeated. We humans get distracted, forget what we learned and have to be reminded. This is what Vistage is all about. Our members hear from a speaker 8 times a year. Do you really think each speaker brings something new to the table? Rather, they often are reinforcing a similar message. And, we hear the message differently depending on where we are in our lives and our businesses at the time. An entrepreneur leading a start-up will hear a leadership message differently 10 years later when he or she is challenged with building a leadership team that will lead to a sustainable enterprise.

I asked one of our long term Vistage members recently if he had ever considered leaving Vistage. His answer was “never, I learn something at every meeting, every one-to-one.” He leads a highly successful, high growth business. My belief is he learns something new each time, because he comes ready to listen each time.

The same is true for the people that work for us. Some problems can’t be solved, because things happen. Life isn’t static and our businesses and our processes aren’t static. I frequently talk about the DIME Method: Design, Implement, Monitor, Evaluate. For me the repetition speaks to the Monitor and Evaluate part of the continuum. As problems get solved and things change, we must monitor, evaluate and then design again.

As you mull over this idea that problems can’t be solved, I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time I monitored or evaluated the systems I have in place?
  • Are we doing things, “because that’s the way we have always done it”?
  • Am I ready to look and listen with fresh eyes to what I have heard and seen before?


Elisa K. Spain