Life is full of problems. Oops. Did I say that? For those optimists out there, re-read the sentence as “Life is full of opportunities.”
Whatever you want to call them – problems, challenges, situations or opportunities – they appear in front of us everyday in our lives. Our tendency (just like when we are posed a question) is to respond to this new problem, challenge, situation or opportunity immediately. In fact, we want to know the high-level execution details to find out whether we can get through this or not. There are a vast majority of cases where this is the right response. However, there are cases where this may not be the most optimum response. Here is a case:
One of your co-workers or direct reports presents you a radically different way of doing things at work. Since it is “radically” different, there is a lot of thought that has to go into whether this needs to be pursued or not. Should you rush to find a solution or an execution plan, you may not have the necessary background and framework to arrive at one immediately. Your past experience does not have a blueprint for this future solution. You can try to get creative and extend your imagination but you may just not get anything immediately.
So, what could you do differently? My friend Kimberly Wiefling says that the best response at that moment is “Interesting. Tell me more..” and stop and listen to what the person has to say. You may find something that you have never thought of and this new information may change the way you think.
New problems or opportunities of a reasonable size and especially those that extend longer time horizons need a different kind of treatment. There is no point in rushing to a solution quickly. You won’t find a good solution and you may dismiss the whole thing prematurely or find an alternative that is not good in the long run.