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Topics: Career Development, Leadership, Strategy
‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!’
If you have not been told this so far this year, consider yourself lucky!

My question to the community, why do managers still continue to do so?
Should it stop?
If so, why and how?

Thank you for your thoughts!
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It seems that I am one of those lucky people.
Excellent topic. I've always felt it was my obligation as a professional engineer to raise issues. In one case recently, I made it clear to the CoC that I was ethically bound to report it if no action was taken as it concerned a safety issue. I didn't have a solution, and it related to a project I was not part of, but I had attended several meetings with the project staff where I became aware of the issue(s). I will say that the culture of the organization plays a large part in how you address "problems". I've seen both approaches, and in my current employment, I would say the military environment/culture in a large part is as the OP stated. That being said, I agree that one should always understand the importance of "messaging" and where possible, try to propose options/ solutions.
Suzi,

There is a middle ground, remember the discussion on Architectural Awareness in the “field knowledge vs. project management knowledge” thread? One of the aspects of the approach is to “challenge-out resolutions” on a given subject.

As a project manager, if you are able to navigate the domain of concern, then you have the ability to take a problem (even though you are not an expert) and bring the parties (i.e., SME’s and Stakeholders) together to challenge-out a resolution. In this situation, you are either moderating or actively participating in the challenge-based discussion.

In either case, you are in the driver’s seat and seeking the solutions. Acting in this type of role rarely feels comfortable, but it will prevent the “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” situation / dynamic. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then recommend and help coordinate a “challenge-based discussion” with someone else at the helm, and then grow into that type of role.
Wow, am speechless with a lot of thoughtful, wise and impactful advices from everyone - I am certainly feeling very lucky right now! :-)
I will certainly go back and learn, absorb and take on-board your points and different dimensions brought up in this discussion, thank you very much all!
If we are truly talking about empowering the right level of people - those who deal with the problem - then they should be making the decision, letting the manager ratify it. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where what is preached by organizations is not always what is being done.

Think about it this way, if you get to propose solutions - yes, you should propose more than one - then you get to have a large part in the decision-making process.
Another aspect of this question is that we (at least some) promote teamwork and in particular design thinking. One component of all design thinking frameworks is to separate the problem and the solution space. And both of them have to be tackled by the team.
Thank you Stephane, very wise!
Thank you Thomas, is lateral thinking skills prerequisite for design thinking? If so, lacking the former may explain why sometimes someone with low lateral thinking perceives petty things big, and/or vice versa?
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1 reply by Thomas Walenta
Nov 27, 2019 5:53 PM
Thomas Walenta
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Suzi,
would say yes, as a group you have to be able to think lateral, aka outside the box, divergent, reframing in order to first understand the problem AND second to find solutions.
Googled and found this fascinating post, credit to the writer - https://carnivas.com/systems-thinking-desi...ah-218952d633d6
Nov 27, 2019 4:48 PM
Replying to Suzi MS
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Thank you Stephane, very wise!
Thank you Thomas, is lateral thinking skills prerequisite for design thinking? If so, lacking the former may explain why sometimes someone with low lateral thinking perceives petty things big, and/or vice versa?
Suzi,
would say yes, as a group you have to be able to think lateral, aka outside the box, divergent, reframing in order to first understand the problem AND second to find solutions.
Instead of promoting accountability, it actually encourages employees to turn a blind eye to problems they see but cannot figure out how to fix. Sometimes it kind of beings out,all the problems you find, I only want to know about the ones you can solve.”

If you’re giving people permission to tell you about just those problems they can solve, you’re missing out on many opportunities for improvement. You’re leaving performance boosters on the table simply because the problem and the solution aren’t collocated.
In other words sometimes In a positive note when we hear it next time think he or she actually meant “ you are smart enough to solve the problems that you brought to me ,go find a solution and tell me how you fixed it”
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