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5 Miracle Steps to Solving the Unsolvable

The meeting adjourns and you are still no closer to addressing the issues you and your team came there to discuss. 

You've gotten nowhere except knowing that you have a problem.

You've been talking about this sticky issue for months now!  When is your team going to decide to do something about it? 


Sound familiar?  This is a common experience for so many business owners.

Just Another Day at the Office

We beat problems to death and still are no closer to creating what we want to see in the business.  Seldom do we talk about what we really want to see and how we can make that the new reality!

The bad has more weight than the good, so we focus on what we don’t want.  This keeps leadership teams around the world stuck on the hamster wheel of endless frustrating discussions, feeling powerless to effect change.

What would it look like for you and your team to become masters at creating solutions to the many problems that arise in the business? 

 What would it be like if you were to stay focused on creating more of what you want in the business, every discussion moving the business forward?

Let’s look closer at how you can navigate these problem-solving discussions more successfully by practicing these 5D's.

Step 1: Diagnose before Discuss

Diagnose means to identify the nature of a problem by examination of the symptoms.

 It’s the symptoms that point us to the root cause.  Far too often leaders just dive into discussions about symptoms never getting to the root.

The first step to creating solutions as a team is to get to the root of the problem

What they think is the problem is seldom the real challenge.  You must dig deep to find the root before you start discussing it.

Without finding the root of a problem, you'll end up talking about everything and never solve anything.   

Step 2: Discover before Solve

Next, you and the team must discover the result they desire to create. 

What does it look like to really solve this?  If this problem were solved what would be different?

Before leaders jump headfirst into "fix-it mode" it would serve them well to spend a moment talking about what they really want to create.  You can solve a problem and still be no closer to what you truly want—that’s a problem!

Take the time to discover the future you want to see to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction.  You first must diagnose the real challenge and then discover a clear vision for what you want, before you can you really solve anything.

Step 3: Dialogue before Debate

Being brutally honest isn’t the best strategy when it comes to finding solutions.  But so often that’s what gets praised in the business world.  What's brutal about telling the truth? 

Co-founders and CEOs debate issues when they’d be better served to have some dialogue with their team.

 In debate, views are presented and defended.  In dialogue, different views are presented as a means of discovering a new view. 

In debate, finding the right answer is the focus.

The challenge is that when looking at complex business issues there are many right answers. 

So, what ends up happening is two distinct points of view are further entrenched, only making it harder to reach a satisfactory solution.

What if you were to guide these discussions toward coherence and facts, over opinions and judgments. 

That’s what dialogue is all about: reaching a common meaning which cannot be accessed individually.  That's powerful!

There’s no winners or losers and everyone is working toward the greater good of the business.

Peter Senge, who wrote a great book on creating a learning culture shares several insights from David Bohm, who’s developed a model for dialogue.* 

For you and your team to do this well Bohm gives us three key ingredients:

  1. Become the observers of your own thinking and detach from your assumptions. You can’t maintain objectivity when you’re defending your position, as is often the case when debating.
  2. Everyone has a voice and is seen as a peer. Titles and egos have to be left at the door.
  3. Consider assigning a facilitator whose primary focus is to observe the thinking in the room, observe the truth, mirror these observations back to the team, and move them deeper into finding solutions.

Debating issues often leads to looking for the right answer to a problem. 

But the challenge is that there’s always more than one right way.  In dialogue, the key is to stay objective, detach from assumptions, and focus on what result you most want to create next.

Step 4: Decide before Consensus

This is key: decide on a course of action that you think might bring the problem closer to a resolution.  

Treat it as an experiment.

Far too often, nothing happens until there is consensus on what everyone believes is the right action. 

This implies that there is one way of solving your challenge, and that's seldom the case. 

Think back to your last problem-solving discussion.  At what point did you notice people repeating themselves? 

That’s when you know it’s time to decide.  It's time to land on the next step that you think will move the problem to a solution.  Remember, it's an experiment. 

Don’t overcomplicate this step.  Once all points of view are out and there’s been dialogue to where everyone’s been heard.  It’s time to ask the group, “what’s the next best step we could take to solving this?” 

Trust in their response, assign who’ll be owning the next step, and move on.  If what’s decided on doesn’t bring resolution, it’s up to the owner to bring it back to the group.

When the goal is to agree on the right solution, nothing gets solved.  No one has a crystal ball and there's no way of knowing it'll work. 

So instead, as soon as you notice people repeating themselves, it’s time to decide on the next step.  Assign it to one person, and leave with him or her to bring back to the group if it doesn’t get resolved.

Step 5: Do It Within the Week

Once you decide on the next step, do it within the week. 

You are either creating more of what you want in the business or more of what you don’t want. 

If you continue tolerating the status quo without taking action to create solutions, your problems will remain. 

Imagine if you and your team were to no longer tolerate what's not serving you.  What would it look like for you to create the results you most want to see in every area of the business?

Once you decide on the next steps, take action within the next seven days.


I encourage you to put these 5D’s into practice the next time you are in the room with your team trying to solve something.

Diagnose what the root issue is before you start discussing the problem. 

Discover what you and the team most want to see as a result. 

Dialogue by detaching from any entrenched perspectives, assumptions, and judgments.  Focus on staying objective, looking to the coherent truth of the team.

Decide on a course of action as soon as you notice the conversation is starting to repeat itself. 

And finally, take action. Do it within the week. 

You are either creating more of what you want or more of what you don’t want in the business. 

Choosing inaction is another way of saying you’re going to continue tolerating what you don’t really want. 

Lean in, take action, and address those things that aren’t serving you in the business once and for all.  These 5D’s will help you do that.


To your success,