Skip It

In most organizations, the CIO and IT department are mired in problems, from network security to thin budgets to keeping up with fast technological changes. No matter what type of problems face your department right now, I want you to do a quick problem-solving exercise.

Close your eyes for a moment and ask yourself: In my company, what is the biggest problem I’m facing right now? Keep your eyes closed until you’ve come up with an answer. (To get maximum benefit from this exercise, you may want to jot down your answer.)

Now, with that biggest problem firmly in mind, here’s what you’re going to do: you’re going to take that problem… and skip it.

The typical approach is to grab that problem and attempt to solve it. The problem with trying to solve your problem is that in order to solve it, you engage it, and by engaging it, you embrace it, which often leads to getting your wheels mired in the mud of the problem, stuck in crisis mode and unable to move forward.

I’m suggesting you take a different path.

Rather than engaging with your biggest roadblocks by confronting them, often you’ll find you can simply leap over them. This is not a philosophy of denial, avoidance, or procrastination. It is a powerful kind of conceptual jujitsu that teases previously invisible crises out into the open; where we can take decisive action to address them.

The key to unraveling our most intractable problems often lies in recognizing that the problem confronting us is not our real problem. The real problem lies hidden behind the distraction of what we think our problem is. Skipping your biggest problem means stepping outside the flat plane of the existing situation and gaining a clearer perspective, and this often triggers flash foresights that lead to new opportunities far bigger and more productive than you could have imagined based on the original (incorrect) problem you were trying to solve.

Take Eli Lilly, for example. In 1999, to solve the big molecular puzzles to create new pharmaceuticals, and breathe life into their falling stock prices, Lilly needed to hire at least another 1,000 new PhD employees and they frankly did not have the money. Lilly’s problem was, to put it bluntly, no money.

Or was it?

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