Monday Morning Message on Lean – Problem Solving – Monday, November 08, 2010

November 8, 2010

“Don’t bother people for help without first trying to solve the problem yourself.” – Colin Powell


I thought I would use this quote from General Colin Powell as we get closer to Veteran’s Day. I like this quote because it reminds me that we need to “see” the problem so that we can start to find an appropriate solution. I don’t think Gen. Powell was trying to say that if you if have no expertise in that area that you should try to solve the problem. I think he is trying to say that instead of just going to your boss and telling him or her that there is a problem and off-loading it on them, you should try to take ownership of the issue.


This would happen to me all the time when I was a supervisor. My technicians would come up to me and say “We have a problem” and then the ‘20 questions’ game would begin. I would ask them questions that I know my boss would want answers to. So I realized that I needed to train my techs on how to present the problem to me. It didn’t take long before they realized that when they brought a problem to me they would anticipated the questions I would ask them and they would be ready with answers. This allowed them to start to take ownership of the problem. Many times they already had the answer and just wanted to run it by me, ask my opinion or present viable options. I hope in a small way I was able to help the technicians have a little more control and ownership over their work.

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