OS 100: Reverse Paradigms, Obstacles vs Opportunities
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. - Henry Ford
So, it’s not going as you planned? You are doing too much and your team is accomplishing too little. The work is more intense and the income is down. It’s difficult to see anything but obstacles.
It might be time to reframe those obstacles and attempt to define a way forward. Those obstacles can become opportunities if you can rethink strategy.
It’s also time to rethink your own skill set, as well. To transform an organization or to transform a team, it’s important to begin that transformation with yourself. Basically, none of us can see our own blind spots - hence, that name.
Let’s do a situation analysis...
- Are the perceived obstacles really obstacles, or it is your mindset?
- Are you defining the problem accurately?
- Are you attempting to solve a problem before understanding what caused the problem?
- Is the market telling you that your concept needs to change?
- Are you too tied up with your own idea to admit that it’s flawed?
- Is the obstacle the idea or the strategy (the vision or the tactics)?
- Is the obstacle defining the limit to your ability?
- Is it time to work on your own self-awareness and team management?
Let’s look at a basic problem-solving model. It works as follows:
1. Clearly define the problem (obstacle) and get feedback from your team - be very sure that you have defined the correct problem. Many times, leaders solve problems that are not problems. What is the obstacle keeping you from success, and is it clearly and accurately defined?
2. Identify ALL the parts of the problem setting up or causing the obstacle. Make a comprehensive list of everything that impacts the situation. This is the largest set of data. It’s important to do this activity with the team members - after everyone has agreed on #1 to ensure that everyone sees the problem the same way. If the group is not comfortable with the word “Problem,” consider using the topic header of “Pieces of the Puzzle.”
3. Group the items created in #2. (I use storyboards and half sheets of letter-sized paper to create separate idea cards to place on a board sprayed with repositionable spray mount.) If you can, group (cluster) the cards together by topic or subject to get an idea of what you are really dealing with. This sets up defining a way forward and helps to gain clarity of the accuracy of your perceptions.
4. List all potential solutions. Just list them without priority. Next, see if some of these ideas can be combined for strength or create a sequence of steps. In this process, you will gain perspective and be able to see opportunities emerge.
5. Create the final solution or sequence of steps to the solution. Get consensus from the group and set accountability mechanisms for the process going forward.
What I have defined is a process for separating feelings/emotions and moving to thinking. Many times, our emotions color our decisions and we can’t make accurate judgments. Approach problems calmly and directly. Look at the facts and leave emotions aside. Anxiety spreads to everyone in any group.
As identified in the quote from Henry Ford, we see obstacles when we take our eyes off our goals. However, ignoring problems creates obstacles that can be threatening to our success.
As the leader, you set the standard…obstacles are really opportunities in disguise.