Why “Bring Me Solutions” Policies are Bad Business

“Bring me solutions” policies are bad for business and should be retired.

It’s unrealistic, manipulative, lazy. 

Humans have problems. Customers do, companies do, computers do. Employees and stakeholders need proactive leadership, not reactionary order takers.

solutions
Googling for artwork, I see I’m not the only non fan of ‘bring me solutions’ faux optimism. Yay. Photo by Despair.

Employees lack authority and resources. Problems may have solutions, yet how rare it is for front line have the power to address them. Solutions cost money. Employees may have smart ideas, creative fixes; instead it’s ‘blue-sky thinking‘ and ‘do more with less.’

Head, meet sand – as if ignoring a problem (lacking an obvious solution) will make it go away or fix itself. See also: “if you can’t be positive, be quiet.” Blech.

Problems DON’T always have solutions. Knowing that, being able to see that and empathize with employee’s pain, that is part of a supervisor’s job.

Who’s The Boss?

I hear “solutions > problems” touted as gospel, I think: for whom?! Poor managers too blind to the issues within their departments, who want their overworked, underpaid employees to cover. Opportunistic leadership, eager to jump on any good idea that’ll improve their division’s stats or pad their own resumes.

Managers should get their hands dirty and come up with the answer, especially when the solution is hard to find. That’s why they’re the boss, right?! Tangent alert.. ahem.

“Bring Me Solutions” = Planning to Fail

The biggest reason why “bring me solutions” policies are bad – they have the opposite effect. They don’t empower employees, they limit them.

This policy makes employees feel like their input isn’t welcome or wanted, so they have no choice but to say nothing. It invalidates their contributions and ignores legitimate concerns, frustration builds and resumes get updated.

Worst of all, the problems never get solved because policies (and cultures) like this close the door on communications.

My policy: Input welcome, even if it doesn’t come prepackaged with an easy fix. What’s yours?

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