More than once, twice or thrice in my work place I have had situations where management wanted something and I insisted that it was either not possible or too difficult to invest energy in. There were other times where I or a colleague in the same team insisted that a particular problem was not within the scope of my team. More than once or twice we would later find new ways of delivering what management wanted or in the case of incidents found that the root cause was actually traceable to our area.
Attitude is a very critical component of problem solving in any discipline. We must search ourselves and ask whether we really want to solve a problem or we simple don’t want to be found culpable. Some work environments contribute to an attitude which says “It’s not my problem so why bother?” but whether the cause is a flawed workplace culture or otherwise, we can solve more problems if we are more open, and more willing to try harder, learn more and work as a team.
Having the right attitude tends to open up our minds and help us think outside the box. Thinking more broadly produces new ideas. A defensive posture blocks our minds and the minds of those we are defending ourselves against. When everybody is playing “defensive midfielder”, nobody really attacks the problem to the point of delivering a solutions. We should also be aware that there is a world of difference between explaining why we think the problem is not ours and real, productive brainstorming with other teams. When we focus on explaining why the problem is not ours, we are leveraging on what we already know and forget that there are many things we do not yet know.
Let me conclude by recalling a story from my previous workplace. We had a certain issue with licensing on BMC Remedy AR System which indicated that the MAC Address on a blade servers Network Interface Card had changed. A number of “IT Professionals” laughed me to scorn when I sent emails indicating that the server’s MAC Address had changed because “everybody knows that MAC Addresses don’t change. After thorough investigation it turned out that when certain options are setup, pulling a blade out of its slot and pushing it back in actually changes the MAC address. We had to go all the way to the OEM to learn this. And it took someone with an open mind to go that far and teach us all something new.
Please forgive the excessive jargon in the last paragraph. It’s just buttressing the thought earlier communicated. Have an open mind when given new tasks or when you need to solve new problems. You are likely to solve the problem faster and learn something new in the course of it.
I was born in a village andthe first language I spoke was Igbo. I faintly remember the encounter I hadwith a fellow two or three-year-old in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. We were examininga little pond. I guess I was fascinated with the fact that I could see myreflection in the water, and his too. I made certain comment about the water inIgbo which I am not sure whether he understood, one thing I was very sure ofwas that I did not understand whatever it was he said in English when heresponded. I do not even remember what he said today but I remember I felt outof place when I could not understand him. I remember another incident in myearly life. I am sure I could have been about four years old when I heard thefirst song I remember hearing: Madonna’s LaIsta Bonita (The Beautiful Island). Till date every time I hear that somesomewhere, I remember the blue lights that lit up the hall in that remote villageof the then Imo State called AmaiyiIgbere. My father was well known, generous and used to host a lot ofparties replete with food and drinks. Incidentally, it was at one of thoseparties in 1986 where I had my first taste of beer at age seven: a mix ofleft-overs from several bottles of Gulder, Star and the likes.
A child’s earliest experiences have a huge impact on the outcome of his or her life even if he doesn’t consciously remember those experiences. I believe that some experiences of our childhood stick with us so deep that even if we do not remember them consciously, they lie hidden deep in our subconscious and subtly contribute to our patterns of thinking. While it is safe to say that most of us have these scripts written in our subconscious inadvertently, as parent, we can take advantage of these realities and attempt to deliberately shape the thinking of our children right from childhood by regulating the things they are exposed to.
I once saw a picture of my childhood when I was about two years old. I was fiddling with the record player looking very serious. My Mom told me I tended to find some electronic device to play around with at every opportunity. She also told me I always found a way to open our bedroom window from the first floor of our house in the village until my Dad secured it with binding wire. That is the nature of every new born: always exploring.