At a recent strategies session one of our Life School Staff, Scott Thrush, shared with me that he viewed himself as a Solutionist because he was always looking for creative ways to solve problems and help others. His accurate self-description inspired me to think about the kind of people I want to surround myself with at work and how I personally want others to view me.
Do you want to surround yourself with Solutionists or Obstructionists?
Do you want to be a Solutionist?
Your coworkers and your organization need more Solutionists and fewer obstructionists.
Share any new idea at a meeting for a quick headcount of obstructionists masquerading as helpful co-workers.
A common name for the obstructionist persona when it comes to developing creative solutions is “The Devil’s Advocate.”
Tom Kelley, writing in The Ten Faces of Innovation, describes the destructive power of this obstructionist persona. “The Devil’s Advocate [persona] encourages idea-wreckers to assume the most negative possible perspective, one that only sees the downside, the problems, the disasters-in-waiting. Once those floodgates open, they can drown any new initiative in negativity.”
Anything worth doing should be vetted by thoughtful discussion (Luke 14:28),but avoid destroying new ideas just because it is easier to see the clouds and harder to see the blue sky.
A Solutionist chooses to share their concerns from the more productive “can-if” rather than the “we can’t.”
Adam Morgan and Mark Barden, in their book A Beautiful Constraint, suggest adopting a Can-if response when presented with new ideas to consider or problems to solve. The Can-if approach keeps the creative energy flowing and creates the best possible conversational climate to resolve the issue.
The next time you are presented with a new idea practice your Can-if response.
The world needs more solutions.
Any experience working with a great Solutionist? Connect with me on Twitter and share what they do.