Imagine a tree that is harmful to people. If we sever the main central root, the tree will fall one day. We do not need to pluck every leaf and chop off every branch - which depletes our energy and time.
When we solve challenges, do we take enough time to dig into the root of it? We might think we do, but think twice. Have you sat through meetings where a topic is brought up, decisions are made quickly and the next agenda item is took up for discussion? Have you noticed that many of the participants have not got enough time to understand, think through and contribute to the situation?
Often times, efficiency overtakes effectiveness. Whether personal challenges or organizational challenges, unless we take a little time to explore the challenge itself in sufficient detail, it is highly unlikely we can resolve it. In meetings it is common that every one solves their specific problem and walks out, but the real problem still looms large.
A closure is not recommended before sufficient exploration. A quick closure tends to solve the wrong problems. Sufficient exploration increases the possibility of getting to the root. Cut it once, and the tree eventually falls. (Pardon me, tree lovers).
Why does it matter?
In our day-to-day life, we seldom encounter new problems. Most of the time the same problem appears in front of us in different costumes, like the new roots growing out of a taproot. Only the appearance changes, the core does not. Whether it is a relationship issue or a finance problem or a stress challenge, the root of them when traced back will seem familiar - usually ignored in the past.
In teams and in organizations, it seems to be true. A dysfunctional culture, a broken system, a wrong policy, an unfavorable leadership style - one or more of these could be traced back as the problem. These are the elephants in the room; often we pretend not to see them. We go around it and solve the relatively easier challenge. So the elephant lives in the room - forever.
Leadership development, Talent management strategies, People & culture initiatives, Interview mechanisms, Change, Innovation and what not, could be affected, if we ignore the root of the challenge. An innovation tool, process or technique may not produce anything useful, if the teams have a culture of just protecting the status quo. Teamwork will not happen, if the performance management systems reward individuals based on their solo performance.
Here is an example. Before we do anything related to managing talent in our organization, it might be better to ask a few questions as a group, ponder over the responses and even reach out the stakeholders for their views. Here are some sample questions?
- How could we retain our talent? Why do they care to stay?
- What will help us to lead innovation? What does innovation mean to us?
- How does our culture support our growth? Do we do what we preach?
- Are we leaders who role model for our staff? Do we demonstrate positivity and appreciation?
It is worth digging deeper into a situation to uncover the root of the issue. It is ok to choose not to act on it - may be we have constraints. Yet the awareness itself can do magic. A great question when pursued with zest and passion, genuine curiosity and pure intent, is capable of creating solutions. They can change our world, instantaneously - often without effort.