I’ve had conversations this week with people about issues that their teams are experiencing.  In some cases, the frustrations and inability to influence the outcomes they want is causing real misery. Sadly, I don’t have a magic wand to perform miracles. However, I did draw attention to two particular ways of thinking that they felt might free them up from their “stuck” state of inaction.  

The first is Covey’s model of the circle of influence/concern. Facilitating the team to recognise the issues they do have ability to control and influence can reduce the expenditure of unnecessary time and emotion. I’m not advocating giving up – I personally like a challenge and would expect others to continue to try and influence where they believe there are improvements to be made.  I do, though, think the model is useful to separate out the stuff you can get on with changing, it encourages creativity about getting the solution you want and focuses people on proactively engaging with those actions that they CAN do to make a difference.  

I also talked about Keith Grint’s work with wicked problems . ( see here http://leadershipforchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Keith-Grint-Wicked-…) Grint suggests that differentiating problems, recognising those which are what he terms “Tame, Wicked and Critical and then flexing approach to deal with the differing levels of complexity might be more helpful than facing into a problem head on with a once size fits all approach.  He particularly highlights how those stickier, more complex, sophisticated, multi- faceted issues might be better engaged with, through employing a number of ‘Clumsy Solutions’.  This might mean people making decisions and taking action across a wide range of smaller issues that each in some way move things in the direction of the hoped for much bigger solution.  A key step change won’t quickly happen over-night but, they ought to be able to look around in the near future and surprise themselves with the amount of movement they’ve made with addressing the issues they had identified.  

Either way, when issues arise, and people are frustrated at their lack of control for changing things for the better, encourage them to recognise where they do have power to add value and be tenacious and bold in facing in those things they CAN do to face into the outcomes they want. Got to love a trier!