Problem Finding/Reassessing Problem Ownership

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We can get stuck when we deny or avoid problems, blame others, think too narrowly about the problem or its solutions, focus on obstacles, focus on the evil others, become selfish or ego involved, remain stubborn, become blinded by dogma or ideology, try to change things we cannot, or become complacent.

Problem ownership can be determined based on at least three considerations:

  1. Who should solve this problem based on existing roles and responsibilities?
  2. Who can solve this problem based on existing talents, skills, and capabilities? and
  3. Who wants to solve this problem based on initiative and interest?

The following questions can help reassess problem ownership, reframe the problem, and consider new approaches.

Why must we solve this problem?

  • Why is it important?
    • To whom is it important?
  • Why is it urgent?
    • To whom is it urgent?

In what ways am I part of the problem?

  • What more could I do to reduce the problem?
  • What more could I do to contribute to a solution?
  • What can happen if I blame myself rather than others?
  • What is their viewpoint on this problem?
    • What do I learn by adopting their viewpoint?
  • Does this problem need to be solved?

How can we transcend conflict to find a solution?

  • What are the contradictory goals at the center of this conflict?
  • Where are we in conflict opportunity space?
    • What are the opportunities for mutual gain?
    • How can we move to the positive transcendence position?

How can we think about this as a win-win opportunity?

How can we generate more opportunities and alternatives for mutual gain?

Where is the problem?

  • Where does this problem originate?
  • Is it my problem?
  • Is it your problem?
  • Is it their problem?
    • Who are they?
      • Users?
      • Suppliers?
      • The client?
  • Is it a system problem?
    • Consider methods including rules, habits, and regulations
    • Equipment?
    • People?
      • Training?
      • Instructions?
      • Incentives?
    • Materials?

When must this be solved?

  • What happens if we do nothing?

Who can help?

  • Who has the responsibility to solve this?
  • Who has the authority to solve this?
  • Who has the expertise to solve this?
  • Who has the capacity to solve this?
  • Who has the capabilities to solve this?
  • Who has the imagination to solve this?
  • Who has the interpersonal skills to solve this?
  • Who has the wisdom to solve this?
  • Who has the will to solve this?
  • Who can help us reframe this, provide a new viewpoint, new insights, or a new approach?
  • Who has the negotiating skills to solve this?
  • How can this problem be sub-divided?

How can we better align responsibly, authority, and expertise of this problem?

How can we reframe this problem?

  • What can we learn by adopting a global perspective?
  • What can we learn by adopting a system perspective?
  • Can we change from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset?
  • What other reversals can help here?

How can we make it their problem?

  • Who is they?
  • Who is in the best position to solve this problem?
  • Should they own it? Why?

How can we tell a different story?

What are we failing to see?

What else do we need to know?

What opportunities are lying just beyond our current thinking?

What next step can we take toward a solution?

  • What is the next problem?
  • What side effects are being created?
  • What unsolved problems remain?

What are the many contributing causes of this problem?

  • Is the problem incorrectly defined?
  • Is it a resource problem?
    • Is it an allocation or distribution problem?
    • Are we overlooking available abundance?
    • How does the problem change over time?
  • An ideological conflict?
    • Can empirical evidence help?
  • A misunderstanding?
  • A lack of imagination?
  • A dominant narrative?
  • A social construct?
  • Traditions, habits, taboos?
  • A dominance contest?
    • Ego involvement
    • Power struggle
    • Stubbornness
    • Saving face
  • Vengeance
    • What are the grievances and accusations?
    • What is propelling and sustaining the vengeance?
    • Is guilt, embarrassment, shame, or humiliation at work here?
    • Can an apology help?
  • What systems is this a part of?
  • Can we construct a cause-effect diagram to analyze this problem?
    • What new causes do we discover?
    • What new approaches does this identify?

All things considered, what is the priority of this problem?

  • What priority do you give this?
  • What priority do others give this?
  • Why?

How can we appeal to the virtues and better nature of everyone involved?

  • How can we appeal to honesty?
  • How can we appeal to integrity?
  • How can we appeal to compassion?
  • How can we appeal to tolerance?
  • How can we appeal to charity?
  • How can we appeal to mercy?
  • How can we appeal to fairness?
  • How can we appeal to generosity?
  • How can we appeal to reason?
  • How can we appeal to wisdom?
  • How can we appeal to statesmanship?
  • How can we appeal to duty?
  • How can we appeal to courage?
  • How can we appeal to love?

Should you seek whistleblower protection?

What's the problem?

  • What's the real problem?
  • What's the problem really?
  • How do you know?