Early in my career as an engineer I always saw my role as problem solving, however as my career developed the problems became more difficult to understand and to solve. The problems moved from ones of machines and defects to ones of communication and people motivation.
For a long time, I did not recognise the need to modify my problem-solving approach. Rather than focus on problem definition and solution myself, I realised that I needed to develop skills to facilitate or guide others to understand problem solving.
Looking back, it should have been obvious. However, I have also learned that the obvious is like common sense, not really obvious or not really common.
Most of my work with groups now is focused on trying to bring the group to an understanding and avoiding “telling” them the solution. I struggle with this regularly as the engineer in me wants to shout out solutions.
The effects of this are hopefully very effective. If the group understand the reason for a problem their solution is much more likely to last. Telling people what to do does not lead to understanding.
For engineers, or others moving into management, I suggest you sit back and focus your attention on enabling the people you work with and less on giving them solutions.
We use this thinking as part of the Lean Sigma leader courses we deliver in conjunction with Cork Institute of Technology. If you would like to learn more, we are now enrolling on our Lean Sigma Courses for September at Lean Sigma Courses with CIT