…It’s 6:32 PM here, so I want to keep this short. But I wanted to share a great article I read this evening because it inspired a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment for me. From Peter Bregman at the HBR (article here), who was trying to figure out how to get his kids to stop fighting in the morning:
It was 6:45 am and my three kids were already fighting.
My wife Eleanor and I have tried everything. We talked to them about how important it is to have a good relationship with your siblings, made clear what we expected, and developed rules for living together. We trained them in respectful communication and taught them how to breathe and manage their anger. We meditated with them and mediated between them. We rewarded them, punished them, reasoned with them, and begged them.
and when none of those solutions worked;
…If my kids didn’t have a sibling fighting problem, what else might it be? I thought through a number of different possibilities and landed on what turned out to be a simple problem with a very simple solution.
My kids didn’t have a sibling problem; they had a morning problem. They woke up tired and with low blood sugar.
Which means the solution wasn’t to teach them how to speak nicely to each other. In fact, that just exacerbated the problem because after we lectured them, they felt worse and now they weren’t just mad at each other, they were mad at us.
The real solution? An earlier bed time and a glass of orange juice when they woke up.
Those two interventions decreased the morning fighting by 90%.
^In HR (and in general, to be fair), we often times try and solve challenges by focusing on process management. Whether it’s hiring a boss for a poor performer (instead of performance managing them), trying to change undesirable behaviors by simply exercising willpower, or trying to fix a broken business model with new technology, we often times misdiagnose the problem when looking for a solution for something causing us personal or business pain. But, by periodically taking a step back and revisiting our assumptions when a challenge is particularly sticky, we’re more likely to identify a misdiagnosis to the problem if/when it exists.
There are all sorts of applications of this idea, but it’s helpful for me just now because there are a myriad of different nails that I have been trying to apply a hammer to when a claw would have been more appropriate.
…Not rocket science, obviously, but I hope this is value added for someone. Think about the problem you’re trying to solve and ask yourself if you are solving the right problem!