The Problem Named Is The Problem Solved

1 Comment April 11, 2009 / Posted in Mindful Business, Mindful Leadership

I had a meeting today with a Vistage 29 member candidate.  The issue got around to difficulties in dealing with Spriggs from a partnering company.  Spriggs’ agenda seemed to be that in these difficult economic times she was circling the wagons and focused on preserving capital and riding out the next six months to a year.

My member candidate saw that there is an excellent opportunity within one of his other partnerships that would benefit Spriggs; partnering company for a minimal investment. On the upside it would increase revenues and cash flow for her company. On the downside,  they would own a property that might take 5 or 6 years before they would see the return on their investment.

He saw her as resistant.  Some of his team members because of Spriggs’ resistance were picturing her as the enemy and used words to emphasize that position: against us; fighting; in it for themselves; going to do us in. She had become the problem. She was standing in the way.

As the member candidate and I talked over breakfast at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines on this rainy San Diego morning, I said:  The problem named is the problem solved. From all you’ve told me, this woman is the problem.  He agreed, that she was the problem.  I asked:  Is she the real problem? Yes!, he replied, a bit irritated that I wasn’t getting it.  She holding us back from getting the money that we need to go forward.

So, if she said she wished she could help but was unable to assist and you didn’t see her as the problem; what would the problem be then?  He thought for a few moments, stirring his coffee.  Well, if she’s out of the picture, it would be a capital investment issue.

Interesting, he said with a smile.  So if she’s not the problem, and it’s a capital investment problem; who problem is it?, he said thinking to himself aloud.   Bigger smile.  He looked at me saying in a questioning tone: The problem named is the problem solved.

We talked a few more minutes.  He got up to leave and I said I was staying a few more minutes at the table to make a call.  As I finished my call I saw that he had left the Vistage application form I had given him under the receipt folder. Damn, now I’ll have to mail it to him or stop by on Monday to give it to him.

As I walked out, I  noticed that the rain had stopped and it was sunny overhead and more dark clouds rolling in.  Moving down the sidewalk toward my car, I see his car turning toward me from the automated ticket kiosk.  I smile, knowing I can give him the application and I’ve saved myself a trip.

He rolls the window down, realizes that he forgot the application as I hand it to him. He smiles: I just talked to my office and my vice president of development said: We’re having another Spriggs’ problem. I told him: No, we’re having a capital investment problem.  He laughs, says: See you Tuesday and drives away.

Cool.  It’s drizzling and still sunny overhead as I walk to my car.  I thank Pat Murray for giving me that gift many years ago:  The problem named is the problem solved. If you want to solve the right problem be sure you name it correctly. Off to Kathy across the street at  Anaphore.

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  1. Matt said on April 11th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Ozzie, great post. So many times we identify people as the issue. When in fact the real issue is the people that are the face of the actual issue.

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