Monday, January 4, 2010

When Things Go Wrong


It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.  Albert Einstein

Leaders are problem solvers by talent and temperament, and by choice.  Harlan Cleveland

One of the realities of life is that things don’t always work the way they’re supposed to work; life doesn’t always happen according to a script. And sometimes, in our rapid pursuit of doing what we need to do we make the wrong turn and experience those unique learning moments called road blocks or even failure. In the New Normal, it isn’t enough to know how to do something correctly, it is also vital to be able to diagnose and solve problems that happen along the way. The situations we call “problems” can be caused by unforeseen circumstances, other people, and ourselves. Regardless of the source, these moments of “Solve” require diagnostic skills coupled with performance support.

The traditional organizational bandage for solving problems that arise in the workflow are “help desks” and sometimes intentionally created support networks—both backed by capable troubleshooters. When life was copasetic with only a few twists or turns along the way, this may have been a sufficient solution. But, today, this model, alone, absolutely won’t solve the “solving” challenge.

The New Normal has shifted the definition of competence from simply applying knowledge and skills to continually acquiring and adapting knowledge and skills. Competence is now a matter of individual learning agility and the moments of “Solve” are prime contributors to the agility challenge.
Learners, today, must be comfortable in their ability to “Solve” unanticipated challenges. They must have confidence in the very act of not knowing. They must be disposed to face challenges beyond their current knowledge and skills. This confidence at these critical moments will come from:

  • A performer support infrastructure that has anticipated their needs at the moment of solve
  • The training they have received to engage those tools in solving problems,
  • The on-the-job successes they have along the way
  • Organizational acceptance of failed attempts that may happen in the process
 In addition, microblogging technologies provide remarkable opportunity for instantaneous access to the collective wisdom within and beyond the organizations we serve. Immediate collaboration at the moment of “Solve” combined with the capacity of individuals to resolve the core challenges that come their way are the scalable resources help desks need to meet the demands of the New Normal – a work environment in the state of constant flux.

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