I’ve shared before that I enjoy solving problems, but I felt like I could improve my skills in that area. Sometimes I’ll encounter a new problem that will totally baffle me. I’ve started approaching this situation like as if I was preparing for a case study interview. I use a framework to do a couple of things: make sure I understand the problem, develop a hypothesis, and design a test.
I can’t do this for every issue, and really every situation doesn’t need this approach, but it helps me be more efficient with my thinking time. These guys have a YouTube channel, too. I’m currently working through the “Toothbrush Test,” a method to determine how well you’ve tailored your structure to the specific problem.
This podcast episode and video may not be the best episode to start with if you’re brand new to case studies, but if you’re deep into case study prep, you might enjoy it.
“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…