Suppose you went to a doctor for stomach pains and he listened to your description impatiently for 12 seconds before eagerly writing you an eyeglass prescription. Would you automatically buy new glasses?
Suppose a vendor calls you, describes a product you can’t imagine fits your business, and recommends you adopt it. “It’s the latest innovation, everyone is trying it!” Would it make sense to proceed?
Leaders must beware solutions looking for problems.
The primary danger to avoid is falling in love with a solution to problems you don’t have. Serial solution-lovers lurch from solution to solution without the hard work of defining their true problems and then searching for (or inventing) matching solutions.
Perhaps you don’t have a problem matching that solution now, but you will in the future. In that situation leadership wisdom is needed to know what to adopt and what. Maybe it’s worth a proof-of-concept or pilot test with manageable risks. You can learn even from “failures” if the test is well-designed. Successful solutions evolve with new features, so delaying a short time might give you a better opportunity to evaluate it. Consider your competition in the market; you might need to be experimenting sooner just to avoid being left behind. Again, it comes down to wise choices in allocating your attention and resources.
Leaders should also be conscious that “solutions” might spark ideas about how you could improve a process, or a new line of business. They can be a source of creativity, even if you don’t adopt this exact solution. It’s useful to keep your antennae tuned to new ideas, but ensure the antennae is also wired to your critical analysis engine and Captain Skeptical hat.
- Keep your antennae up for new ideas and “solutions” people offer you.
- Beware solutions looking for a problem you don’t have.
- Consciously test and evaluate solutions if they might have future value.