A server in a local restaurant was taking our drink order; “Coffee for my husband and a big glass of warm water for me”, I answered. The server replied “We don’t have warm water. We only have hot water and cold water.” Huh?!
Figuring things out is a skill some people are good at: Give them a problem and they’ll try different solutions, push through frustration and solve it.
Other people, not so much. The slightest hiccup and they give up or repeat the same failed action again and again, hoping this time it will work.
The ability to figure things out isn’t necessarily a function of intelligence. It starts as an attitude.
If you want people in your organization to cultivate the common sense it takes to work toward solutions:
- Build self-confidence. Start with simple problems that are likely to produce success. Don’t expect stellar results every time.
- Don’t over-punish mistakes. Encourage people to approach problems in a safe environment first, don’t start in your most costly or dangerous areas.
- Figuring things out needs to feel like the right way forward – there may be several right answers. Keep an open mind, your way may not be the only way.
- Convince people that they can come up with good solutions and that it’s a valuable skill to cultivate.
The next time someone comes to you looking for an answer, perhaps the correct response would be, “You go figure it out!”
The road is easier together,