How to Stop Admiring Your Problems

by Ray Arell

It is unclear when the phrase “stop admiring the problem” came into my leadership tool kit, but I have been using it to improve my personal and business life for about two decades.

I know that you may wonder how we admire problems when a word like “admire” mostly describes pleasing or wonderful things. In this case, it is about the ongoing approval of existing problems by our own actions or inactions.

Ways we admire problems

The way we do this is by not taking action to fix the issue. We may even backlog the problem, take it out again and admire it in a later meeting, only to just put it back on the backlog again. This is something that I see in far too many Agile retrospective meetings. Even in non-Agile rituals, I have seen this done. We have meetings around defect prioritization. In those meetings, we spend hours talking about the defects with a large number of people who could be fixing the issues rather than talking about its priority. Again, this is just admiring the problems.

Moving past admiring with quick wins

Perhaps the easiest way to move forward is starting to take action to fix something. Now I am not saying fix the biggest and ugliest issue you may have on your list. Instead, you identify a problem you can fix quickly-fix it and have a party! I am not kidding about having a party. Nothing helps motivate people to fix things like a party and making the process fun. It is about taking the approach of fixing stuff where you are making a 1% improvement in the team and organizational performance weekly.

Warming up to the bigger fixes

The approach I am calling out is a way for you and your team to warm up to take on bigger issues. It does this by first getting people used to making continuous improvement a valuable habit. As we know habits don’t happen overnight.

Agile Alliance is a nonprofit global member organization, supporting and serving the Agile community since 2001. AgileAlliance.org

Agile Alliance is a nonprofit global member organization, supporting and serving the Agile community since 2001. AgileAlliance.org