What If the Problem Just Isn’t Yours to Solve?

I was listening to Ken Schwaber once and he was talking about someone who had a really hard problem. I mean wicked hard. As Ken put it, they racked their brains and sweat bullets, but they just couldn’t come up with an answer. He looked at us and asked, “So what do you do at that point?”

He paused, then continued, “Sometimes the problem may not be yours to solve. That’s when you take it to someone else.” Such a simple statement, but to me it was a revelation. You see I’m the kind of person who, when given a problem will attack it like a caffeinated pit bull on steroids. I give it everything I’ve got. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s not enough. That’s when you need to let go of your personal ownership of the problem and collaborate with someone else. That’s the part that was the epiphany for me. The letting go bit is hard for me. But we have to realize that we are not responsible for solving all of our problems by ourselves. There are problems that are best solved by a group. Problems that are best addressed by inspection from a variety of different perspectives.

Once I realized this, I was on my way. I just take the problem to the team, or the scrum of scrums, or my stakeholders. It’s OK to let them take a shot at it too. Who knows, they might see something that you don’t.

One Response to What If the Problem Just Isn’t Yours to Solve?

  1. “like a caffeinated pit bull on steroids.” – Love the analogy. This is right on point. Often we try to tackle problems on our own and refuse help, but that’s all we really need to find our answer.

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