Ask the Question - Mine for Problems

"Mine for conflict," goes the old saying, but more deadly are unknown problems lingering in people's minds.
Image Source: http://www.sro.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/mining-000013d.jpg
In my team meetings, my paranoia as a leader forces me to ask the question that I never get a satisfactory answer to. I always feel that there is a problem "out there" that I'm missing, that needs to be addressed. Yet, most folks seldom see a problem as a problem when they first lay eyes on it. That's the fun part...helping others see potential troublespots before they explode in your face.

The question I ask every time I meet with my team takes various forms; here are two:

  • What don't I know about that you do but haven't spoken up about and we need to address? 
  • What problem or issue is there that you know about but I don't or we haven't discussed as a team?

The wording may vary but the goal is the same--to get at, like a man scratching in a corner for a lost artifact, gasping to extend his reach into the unknown that may hold a problem and the opportunity to solve it.

At Great Leaders Serve blog, leaders are encourage to be a heat seeking missile for truth. That blog offers 3 suggestions:

  1. Ask people for feedback.
  2. Look at your data
  3. Get out from behind your desk

While I feel pretty comfortable about asking people for feedback, I am less so about the remaining two points. Crafting metrics that you, your team and organization will be accountable for is critical, but it's too easy to coast and say, "Yes, that project was completed successfully! Move onto the next one!" But metrics may provide better insights than just project completion.

And, of course, getting out from behind your desk is important, too. Sigh.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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