I'm an optimist. I'm always looking for (and usually finding) the bright side. I think this has served me very well over the years. Recently I read an interesting Fast Company article (an excerpt from a book) that described a problem solving approach based on looking for the bright side - well actually, what they call the bright spot:
Our focus, in times of change, goes instinctively to the problems at hand.
What's broken and how do we fix it? This troubleshooting mind-set serves us well
-- most of the time. If you run a nuclear power plant and your diagnostics turn
up a disturbing signal once per month, you should most certainly obsess about it
and fix the problem. And if your child brings home a report card with five As
and one F, it makes sense to freak out about the F.
But in times of change, this mind-set will backfire. If we need to make major
changes, then (by definition) we don't have a near-spotless report card. A lot
of things are probably wrong. The "report card" for our diet, or our marriage,
or our business, is full of Cs and Ds and Fs. So if you ask yourself, What's
broken and how do I fix it?, you'll simply spin your wheels. You'll spend a lot
of time agonizing over issues that are TBU - true but useless.
The article gives a number of examples of not trying to find the major underlying system cause and solve it with huge missions, but instead trying to find a localized success and encouraging it to spread. Interesting concept and well worth a read. How could you apply it to that totally-messed-up project or that new hire who has turned out to be so wrong?