The Solution Conspiracy


This week I met socially with a client who has now read the book. The conversation we had was exciting and fascinating. Diversity, leadership styles, beach volleyball, the environment and politics all mixed with gentle helpings of philosophy. One thing however that he particularly talked about struck me, and that was a thing I call the “Solution Conspiracy”.

The problem, as he put it, is a preference to see the answer and go straight to it. I call it the solution conspiracy because its what client and consultant often do in a sales situation. We tend to conspire to go too quickly to an answer, instead of fully exploring the problem and fully understanding the pain before we ever think about what to do about it and building the resolve to do so.

My client cited a parallel situation he experiences – the case of working with a strong leader who is particularly smart and pretty much invariably knows what the answer is in any situation. He said that the problem isn’t that the person makes bad decisions, it was simply that no-one else felt included in them. This leader actually makes excellent decisions which are widely respected and nobody disputes that. The thing is the inclusion part. This question of inclusion has also come up in a number of other conversations this week. It seems many of us are suffering with over-strong leaders.

Achieving inclusion, buy in and ultimately support can be a problem if we have a particularly strong judgement. Our ability to see the answers and make decisions is excellent but others may not fare so well in that environment. In the downdraft of the smart parent’s helicopter blades sitting just above every situation what ability to consider and make their own decisions emerges in the younger talent?

This strong judgement or perhaps a sense of a lack of time tends to cause us to race to a solution. Yet within that race who do we loose? If the people who will implement our strategy are not allowed to have their say will they then do a good job of implementing the strategy when we decide it? What tends to happen is that a strategy “air gap” emerges between leader and the implementers. As a result the strategy will not implemented.

Our conversation this week on this topic led to the observation that perhaps it is a more traditional female thing to allow time for a discussion; to see that it is more of a extended thing, and that women perhaps have more of a sense of evolutionary time in the making process. Men might be drawn on the other hand to see their job as quick, fast and decisive; their contribution more a one off. This could be seen a mirror of the gender contribution to sex and the process of begetting and rearing children.

Never have I seen two things together as leadership and the support of children, that so much both need to change. Heart and good judgement is important but there is more than one heart in a team, the true King or Queen takes counsel, taking the time that needs to be taken. The true leader is not only shrewd but a listener who gets engaged.

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