If it’s simple, just solve the problem. If it’s complex, transition.
Whatever you do, don’t solve a transition as if it was merely a simple problem.
What does all this mean?
If the situation, issue or crisis before you:
- is one for which you have plenty of power,
- have plenty of capability,
- fits your current base of power,
- and only requires a new solution
- to a relatively focused, well-identified and isolated “problem”,
then by all means direct your attention to solving it.
For example, if everything is humming along in your organization and there seems to be a “leak” of money in one department, by all means find out who or what the problem is and fix that. If someone is cheating there, or incompetent, or not following procedures that are working everywhere else in the organization, then it would be silly to overturn the entire organization in response to that situation, or apply its solution too broadly when the issue or problem is quite localized.
Not much needs to be said about problem solving. Most leaders, managers and workers are taught, whether by experience or training or both, to solve problems. There are also many systems available for how to identify the “root problem” and brainstorm and test ways to solve it. This area (problem solving) gets much attention and, in my experience, is least often how organizations get in real lasting trouble.
The worst trouble organizations get into in the area of problem solving is often due to avoidance. Avoidance usually looks like not wanting to address the actual problem and stir up the political and interpersonal difficulties that go along with a change in that area. The worst case scenario here is that the problem continues to have the same negative effect. As we will see in a moment, things could be much worse.