science

“I Like Solving Problems…”

I’ve had multiple conversations with people about what they want to do and this line keeps coming up. People, generally, like solving problems. Our preferences for types of problems differ but the spirit remains.

Why aren’t we tapping into more of that in our conversations with our teams?

95% of meetings I’ve attended looked like a guy watering a lawn. Grass = staff, water = information. Except the staff could have lived without the information most of the time. The exchange was entirely one direction.

Something, something, Harry Styles pun.

Ask your team for problems. Small ones. Weird ones. Elusive ones. Challenge the rest of the team to propose silly solutions in the following meeting. Solutions you’d probably never consider or aren’t even physically possible.

A former mentor and fellow author loved to say “Involvement breeds commitment” and I always liked that, though I think it just breeds engagement. That engagement can lead to commitment if the environment is right and the culture is true.

Recently, I asked my 10 & 11-year-olds for solutions to an old engineering textbook problem; a ping pong ball rolled into a tube in the center of a gym floor that was about the same size as the ball. How do you get the ball out with the items present in a gym?

My youngest says “Use a vacuum!” – Do you see a lot of vacuums in gyms?

“Stab it with something.” – Like what? And that would ruin the ball.

My oldest says “Pee in the tube, the ball will float out!” – We have a winner. It took him less than 30 seconds to find a quick solution whereas adults frequently struggle to think of a plan that doesn’t involve equipment and time.

Let’s tap the natural tendencies in all of us and become the scientists and artists we were as children, and still are today. Let’s acknowledge everyone has a burning desire to create and contribute to a better tomorrow.