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There are two ways to approach any issue, and two mind sets when an issue is identified – problems people and solutions people. These reflect different characters and different approaches to the world. They represent alternatives and we get to choose which alternative we make ours.

Problem people can identify what has gone wrong. When the issue is identified problem people focuses tightly on blame. They can see the exact point where the task went wrong and why. They are quick to identify who is to blame for failure. That doesn’t mean that they will identify publicly who is responsible for a failure, but they do have a clear idea where the buck stops.

Solutions people see as clearly as problems people what has gone wrong. However, they’re focused on the task and the process, and they quickly turn the conversation and the focus of the group away from the problem and towards solutions. Often when a solutions person first identifies a problem, they will  propose 2 – 3 solutions straight away. They don’t hide problems until they have a solution, or wait for the best moment to unveil the solution, but rather  they are solutions to create discussions about what to do next. 

I’m a problems person at heart. Like all traits it works so smoothly that it takes you a while to cotton on to its implications. But being a problems person is to abandon a process halfway. I’m starting to learn that taking control of how we see the world is the only power we really have. Viewing the world as a solutions person turns the focus of a problem away from its existence and towards its negative effects. It turns the focus of the debate towards diminishing those effects.

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