by Leon Rosenshein

Perspective 2

Consider this


"Everyone has this problem so clearly we can tolerate it"


"Everyone has this problem so clearly we should solve it"

Start with the exact same situation and come up with the opposite result. How is that possible? Is one right and one wrong?

As usual, my answer is, It Depends. It depends on what the problem is. It depends on the impact of the problem. It depends on your goal. It depends on your capabilities. It depends on what you mean by tolerate and solve. But most of all, it depends on the perspective you look at it from.

The problem, whatever it is, is how the current state differs from a desired state. Your perspective is what determines how you see it. Do you see the problem as an impediment to everyone’s progress that you should just minimize and move on, or do you see it as an opportunity to improve things? An opportunity to give yourself a competitive advantage by removing the impediment.

Solving the problem is better. So, we should be solving every problem we see, immediately, right? Unfortunately, no. You can’t solve every problem. You really can’t solve every problem at once. And partial solutions are often worse than the original problem, so you don’t want to start something you’re not going to finish. Which means you need to take the time to understand the problem and make an informed decision about which problem(s) to solve and which to tolerate (for now).

Which brings us back to what it depends on. Does the problem take 5 minutes, once a week, or 10 seconds 25 times a day for 100 people? That’s big difference to its impact. Will it take a few hours to fix or a few months? The ratio of impact to cost is a big input. Is the problem (and its impact) on the critical path to your strategic goals? If it is, the importance goes up. Do you have capability to solve the problem? The knowledge, the time, and the resources? Since those aren’t unlimited, what isn’t going to get done if you solve this problem? What’s the impact of not solving that problem? The costs and benefits aren’t always obvious, and the trade-offs are even less obvious.

The key though is the perspective you see it from. Is it an impediment or an opportunity?