CEO Memoirs: Own The Problem

Own the problem

In our first CEO Memoir, we stated that to excel and be relevant, one’s desire for solving problems must supersede the desire to make money (once you’re passionate about solving problems, individuals, organizations and nations will gladly pay you to solve their problems). My eyes were opened to this truth when I attended a meeting which had Mr. Charles Okeibunor, CEO of IRMP consulting, as the guest facilitator. In that meeting he talked about the ‘4 critical senses needed in the workplace’:

  • Sense of Ownership which asks the question ‘Do I own anything?’
  • Sense of Belonging which asks the question ‘Do I belong here?’
  • Sense of Purpose which asks the question ‘Why am I here?’ and
  • Sense of Team-Spirit which asks the question ‘Are we in this together?’

 The ‘Sense of Ownership’ is what brings us to today’s topic, seat back and enjoy.

Own The Problem – Charles Okeibunor

There are four key senses in every efficient and sustainable workplace. These include: a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of ownership and team spirit. Amongst these four, perhaps the most prominent is the “sense of ownership”. This sense asks the question “if it were mine, what would I do?” It asks the question “assuming the ball was in my court, how will I play it?”

A sense of ownership prevents an “I don’t care” syndrome‎. It helps the individual avoid one dangerous game called the “blame game”. Many managers outsource their problems to their staff only to be disappointed when they fail to deliver; they overlook the fact that people don’t often do what you expect but what you inspect.

To own a problem there are eight things you must do:

  1. Identify the Problem – Many times our focus is not where it should be. We fail to properly do effective research into what could really be wrong. The consequence is that we treat symptoms while the disease lingers. To own a problem, you must first identify it correctly.
  1. See the problem as a SolutionEvery problem is a stepping stone, once you climb it, you reach the next level. Therefore, see the problem as a rose covered with thorns. If you de-thorn carefully, you would enjoy the company of one of the most endearing flowers in the world. Mining is a problem/challenge, but it leads to profitable resources.
  1. Learn from the problem – We can be so worried by problems that we have no time to learn the lessons that come with it. Every problem has a lesson. It is the lesson(s) in the problem that matters more than the solution. Many can solve a problem, few can learn the lessons. It is those who learn the lessons that prevent its re-occurrence. The mechanic can fix your engine, but if you do not learn to service it routinely, you will keep spending money you could have saved.
  1. Share the problem, don’t sell it – Some problems may be too embarrassing to share, or we may be too proud to admit we have a problem. But if you never share your problem, you may be beside a solution while it ferments from bad to worse. A man who never shares his challenges can be likened to a man who lives beside the river Niger, yet washes his hand with spittle. Don’t share for sympathy but for solutions. Also, don’t sell your problems by handing them over and washing your hands off. It is like selling your opportunity to shine. ‎Be involved in the solution!
  1. ‎Deal with the problems root – Problems don’t give notice but they started from somewhere. First things first, trace the roots and deal with the root first. ‎Set systems in place, undo or redo your structure. Change your habits or adjust your lifestyle. When you get to the root, deal with it, don’t excuse it.
  1. Deal with the problems stem – After the root of problems come the stem, which is often the first signs of trouble. The stem represents those whose impressions your problem may have impacted, you need to correct the impressions and change the perceptions. Never assume people will forget, approach the stem and deal with it. The stem is the engine room of the problem, when you confront it head on, it will be solved faster.
  1. Deal with the problems branches – Problems from the roots are hidden, problems at the stem start getting pronounced but it’s the fruits on the branches that give it all away. For “by their fruits we shall know them”. Cut off the branches, dissociate, alienate and amputate. Don’t mix the good with the bad. If they linger, they will litter.
  1. ‎Solve it if you can, Manage it if you can’t – The reality about owning a problem is that at times, it doesn’t solve the problem. So when you encounter a problem you can’t solve, search out ways of managing it until such a time (if ever there is), that it can be solved. Survival mechanisms, damage control etc. are ways of managing some problems if after all efforts, a solution eludes you,
Charles Okebuinor
Charles Okeibunor

Charles Okeibunor, popularly known as the “Workplace Transformer” is a lawyer, mediator, negotiator and author. His interest is in building world-class workplaces by focusing on the effective identification, resolution, management and prevention of workplace conflict. His solution for workplace transformation is called IRMP. You can reach him by following him on twitter @okeibunor11

Click here and here if you missed previous episodes of the CEO Memoirs.

Thank you for reading today’s post, please don’t hesitate to share your opinions and/or reservations in the comment box, it helps us to get better.

Wishing you a solution-filled rest of week


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