P is for Problems

        P is for problems.  We all have them.  We have them individually and within our teams no matter where we work.  The media provides plenty of reminders of all the problems going on in the world.  Acknowledging problem areas is as important to self-awareness as knowing and working towards strengths. The question to ask then is, "What do we do about problems?"

        There are several ways of going about addressing problems, and it'd be impossible to be comprehensive in a blog like this.  What I'm going to do instead is share a simple but different strategy than so many of us tend to gravitate towards.  I read a book recently called Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.  It was one of the best books I've read in quite some time, and I felt strongly enough about its concepts that I gave a copy to six different people.  One of the concepts I loved the most in the book was something called "bright spots."  The basic premise is that when we are trying to create significant change we often spend our focus on what we should be doing differently.  In that, we miss out on the opportunity to build on what we are already doing well.  Those are the bright spots.  They're the examples of how we want to be doing things that we can try to make happen more often.

        An example I've thought of over the last several weeks is a situation that happens often in sports: a new coach.  I have noticed a couple of ways to approach being a new coach.  The first is to come in and change everything.  "What you were doing wasn't working.  That's why I'm here."  What you risk in doing this is you're telling the athletes that what they've done in the past is a waste.  Saying you're going to come in and change everything may sound good in the beginning to some, but is really what is necessary?  If you do that, you're  missing out on an opportunity to build on what has done well because it's extremely unlikely things were 100% bad.  The second approach is to build on what the program has done well in the past while picking your spots for change.  This allows players, the most important stakeholders, to be involved in the transition and to be advocates for change.  Try looking for pockets of success in the team, and recreate them over and over and over.  Certainly there are no two situations that are exactly the same, but taking advantage of whatever good is already there can help anywhere.  Just a thought.  Different ideas?  I'd love to hear them.

Side note:  I'm in New York for the week so the format may look a little odd!  


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