Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are trying to find a solution to a problem or issue and it seems like a never ending struggle? Perhaps you’ve had several rounds of consultations, too-many-to-count revisions and edits, and countless hours of thought and time invested; and just when you think you’ve found the solution, a new element comes up that needs to be considered. This experience is deeply frustrating for any leader and must be informed by two important principles.
The first principle is that “high-quality, long-lasting solutions require high-quality, long-lasting discussions”. Complex problems require time, reflection, quality dialogue and often revision in order to find a solution that endures. This means that if you short-change the investments you make in understanding the problem, considering various approaches and testing assumptions, then you risk a very early expiry date on the solution you implement. In fact, you produce a low-quality, temporary solution.
Sometimes the problems and issues we face are easy to solve, but often leaders face very complex problems. Nevertheless, a complex problem doesn’t necessarily require that the solution will also be complex. In fact, many times the solution can be simple. There is a major difference, however, between a “simple” solution and a “simplistic” solution.
We all have simplistic problems – like what shirt should I wear today. Simplistic problems are often met by simplistic solutions – it’s going to be warm, wear short sleeves. On the other hand, when we face a complex problem, although we might ultimately arrive at a simple solution, in order to do this we will still require high-quality and in-depth discussions/research/considerations/etc. Think of Albert Einstein’s work on the equation of mass–energy equivalence: E=mc2. Complex problem, simple solution; not by any means simplistic, but elegantly simple nonetheless.
Therefore, by exercising the virtues of patience, perseverance, and dedication when approaching complex challenges, the investment leaders make will be returned in high-quality, enduring solutions.
The second principle, especially related to leadership decisions, is that “indecision is not a solution.” This principle tempers the first in that leaders can’t delay decisions indefinitely. Any given solution is seldom an absolutely perfect solution. But if we use the principle of high-quality, long-lasting consultations and discussions as an excuse for a lack of courage to even make a decision, we will never arrive at a solution at all. Indecision is not a solution. Therefore, at some point a virtuous leader must weigh and consider all the factors involved, and move things forward by deciding on a solution and then implementing it.
If they have employed both principles in the process – investing in high-quality, in-depth discussions then taking decisive action based on the resulting conclusions – leaders can be confident that their solutions will be high-quality and long-lasting.