For the last few weeks, just about every news cast has featured stories about the impending “fiscal cliff” facing us in the United States. Politicians and their supporters have dug in their heels, taken their positions, and are holding on at all costs.
While they work to avoid the fiscal cliff, I want to focus on the problem-solving cliff.
We have seen committees and groups hurtling toward the edge of the cliff. Their members have taken their positions, and sometimes would prefer clinging desperately to them than reach settlement. They view holding their positions as being of paramount importance.
I heard a newscast last week where the discussion was whether if a certain politician compromised on their fiscal positions, would they appear like they were weak and losing. It seems like finding good solutions to problems was less preferable than holding our positions all the way to failure. When those solutions are tough, as the answers to most complex problems are, position taking becomes an even bigger peril. Effective leaders recognize this and look for opportunities to solve problems, not shirk their responsibility for perceived political or personal gain.
What we see from the politicians is mirrored in our workplace when people grab a position and refuse to consider alternatives. Position taking makes problem-solving almost impossible. As a result, our committees or work-groups head for failure.
We encourage groups to avoid taking positions when they begin working on problems. If they do this, and develop multiple options based on the interests of everyone involved, they can succeed. By being creative and refusing to lock themselves into a position, groups can accomplish great things.
Let’s hope our politicians figure this out before it’s too late.