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Problem Solving In A Corporate World

The essence of problem solving is in fact not solving a problem, but detecting one before it becomes one. And the way, problems are solved in a corporate world is anything but a mystery.
Disclaimer(s):
  • For illustration, I used Software Developers. You are free to use your own imagination to see any role in a corporate. It really fits the story.
  • Any possible similarities to my current or previous work place are not intentional but mere coincidences. It is impossible not to have these coincidences in any corporate and it is totally beyond my control.
  • There are exceptions and they are really exceptions.
  • If you are a Manager, you may get offended by getting closer to reality.
There are 1000s of great software developers that can solve a problem once you define what is your problem.  But, unfortunately, many of them are good at just that.  They are really great at doing what they are told to do. And, of course, Managers love them, as they rarely question, anything.

But there are others of them, who can spot a problem in the system, while they are still doing what they are assigned just like any other. And most cases, they pursue the problem. Investigate further, analyze further and come up with a proposal or solution to fix.

Its no secret, or I must admit it is totally ‘typical’ in a corporate culture, how that ‘messenger of problem‘ will be received and treated. The stalwarts (read as old timers) never like to accept that there is a problem in the product they have been working for so long. In many cases its their baby for all practical purposes. And some complain that they never had time to figure out earlier, otherwise they are equally smart to identify it.  And some say, they always know about this issue, but never had a chance to look at it deeper. Almost everybody thinks this guy has “an agenda” for bringing it up.

If you are dealing with people that own the product (startups or smaller firms), it is a totally different story. They love those people who think beyond. But in corporate, Managers love only those that love them in the first place.

Anyways, end of the day, in most cases, the whole corporate will reiterate the adage “if ain’t broken, don’t bother to fix it”, as there will always be a resource crunch, budget shortage and there are other important things to do. And few minutes later, the engineer gets an additional assignment as Management believes this engineer has more time at disposal.

And give it a few months, some body in the top line changes and do a comparative analysis with so-and-so product familiar with and comes up fresh ideas or a customer raises an issue;  whole team will be buzzing on working on a top priority, critical and customer sensitive project, that gets double the resources, budget and timelines. Guess, who gets to work on the issue? This time, though, the first section of Engineers will be given the responsibility to fix the issue, as Managers are always convinced that they are the best to solve any problem.

Obviously, these guys didn’t spot it in the first place or will never have the passion to ‘own’ that problem, so will work on the issue, fix the problem as they see it and as they always have been fixing, to the satisfaction of the Management. Management is happy and gives them a promotion and these are all set to take up next top priority customer sensitive project.

And you all know the rest of the story. You may be the one making this history.

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