The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

When the desired solution becomes the problem

John was adamant if the other team would not solve regularly at least 10 of the problems he was forwarding the situation would quickly become chaotic. The more they discussed, the less they concluded.

It was one of these situations in which, someone looked at the problems he could see and decided that he had a solution for it. Requesting that solution as he was, John made it a conflictual subject within the team. He was transforming his solution into a problem the team had to deal with.

The team on the other hand didn’t enquire what this request was solving for all of them. Nor did they ask John what it would help him solve. They assumed they knew.

It’s a frequent situation. One that leads to two types of problems.

The most apparent one is that the team enters into endless discussions and can’t come to a conclusion. And they can’t as the request doesn’t have the same priority for them. Nor can they connect it with the work they see as most important.

The less visible one is that John has been discounting information that plays into the given situation. He put aside for example the information that deadlines are being missed, that others don’t seem to agree with his priorities, that there is a lack of decision guidelines, et.

The discounted information contains the reasons why others don’t have the same view of the situation as he has. For them, some of that information is evident, leading to them having other conclusions.

That the team is not putting all these details on the table to create a common understanding of the situation is the reason why they continue to discuss without finding a common ground.

The only way for them to get out of the dilemma is to take the time to stop their discussions and take the time to think. It’s a moment where they need to share how they see the situation and what it is that they need individually and as an organization. Such a discussion is there to create a common view of the situation, one that also allows seeing all the triggers people may need to react to. It’s only when a shared image of the situation appears, that the team can move on evaluate the situation and decide on the next steps.


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