What’s the Answer?

Here is an all-too-frequent exchange in my classes:

Me: So, the definition of <insert random management term> is <insert definition>, but what’s really important about this is…

Student (interrupting): Can you repeat the definition?

It would be easy to get frustrated with our young learner, until we realize that we do the same thing: find the answer and move on.

The issue is that real problems don’t show up this way. I’ve rarely encountered an issue with a client that is neatly packaged with a clearly defined problem and a nice, obvious solution. While that would make my job easy, why would the client even need me? Usually, the problem has to be discovered or uncovered. That’s because what lies beneath the surface is much more important.

Think about recurring or related injuries. The first time, you treat or heal the injury. The second time, you’d better start looking for underlying causes and correct those. What I am interested in (and try to teach our young learner above) is finding and addressing underlying causes the first time or even before we get injured.

The world of “solution finding” doesn’t encourage us to take our time with problem identification. I find, though, that when the problem is correctly identified the solution is obvious.

So, maybe today we should all go in search of an underlying cause to address proactively. What future problems might that prevent? What is the value of addressing it now versus later? And most important for motivation, can it be fun to solve?


You don’t learn unless you question.

-Warren Berger


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Craig A. Escamilla
Craig A. Escamilla
Craig Escamilla helps you find solutions before problems exist. With fifteen years of consulting, teaching, and senior management experience, Craig brings a wealth of practical expertise to helping others work on rather than in their businesses.

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