The Double-Edged Restorative Sword: When problem-solving becomes a problem. Part 1

“Identifying what is wrong and finding a solution to the problem or issue energizes you. You bring a solution-oriented mindset to daily problems, and complex issues that need to be resolved do not intimidate you” (Gallup, 2021).

According to Gallup, this is a characteristic of people who rate high on the Restorative scale. I wouldn’t say that I get energized by solving problems. I would say that I have a solution-oriented mindset, so maybe that’s the same thing. But, as I reflect in this moment, I guess I am energized by problems. I am always looking for what’s broken. I look for the gap between what I’m seeing and what the best-case scenario could be. But doesn’t everyone?

A couple years ago, my employer started a massive organizational change effort. We were encouraged to rethink everything. I can’t remember the specific objectives, but it generated a lot of activity. I was starting to notice a difference between what leadership was saying and what people were actually feeling. I was excited by the future vision, and I was on board with making it happen. But it was discouraging to have water-cooler conversations during which people would express their resistance to the change. This seemed like a gaping hole. And the longer leaders shared the vision, the more hardened the people became.

This seemed like a big problem, and I couldn’t figure out why anyone wasn’t working on it. Unfortunately, I was not in an organizational change management (OCM) role. Still, I started using my free time to research how to increase the organization’s change capacity, i.e., how do we create a positive feedback loop of adaptation, assessment, and reflection. I found a couple research articles that supported this and whittled it down to a couple pages of content. Ultimately, I condensed it to one page and shared it with a senior leader. They loved it and asked me to champion the change. I wish I had had an opportunity to see it through, but a series of reorganizations and bureaucratic impediments changed my job focus, and I had to put the plan on the shelf.

Looking back on it, I wish I would have had the foresight to keep going. At the time…

To be continued…

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