I have heard it said before that there are two kinds of people in this world…Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better. I fall into the camp that knows better. Personally, I believe there are three types of people in this world…Indifference Makers, Critics, and Solution Providers.
Indifference Makers are those who don’t care enough about anything to share their opinion, keeping their head down hoping not to draw unnecessary attention. These individuals put in time, cash their paycheck, are quick to do their job…nothing more, nothing less. Critics are quick to distance themselves from the outcome, enjoy pointing out how others are falling short, and explain how they would do something very differently given the opportunity, only to disappear when it is time to constructively contribute to the cause. Solution Providers are anything but indifferent, they are passionate; they refuse to distance themselves from the outcome, they want to be co-owners; and instead of pointing out the perceived shortcomings of others, they offer solutions and are quick to help implement the ideas they share.
I firmly believe that everyone can evolve into a Solution Provider, the key is to helping them want to. In fact, I have been helped along that same evolution chain in some aspects of my life, and I continue to try and help others to do the same. In doing so, the following steps help guide the transformation:
1) Categorize – Personal development begins with self-awareness. We don’t know how we are perceived until someone cares enough to tell us. Look around your team and categorize each person into one of these three categories. I hope you can put everyone in the Solution Provider category, but I doubt any of you will be that fortunate. Ask a friend, family member, and/or co-worker to categorize you. If you are reading this, I will assume you care so much that others are quick to let you know you are in fact a Solution Provider. If you aren’t, the odds of you reading this far is not likely.
2) Coach – Align yourself with your fellow Solution Providers and coordinate your efforts to collaboratively coach those who are in the other two categories. Think about how best to engage the others, but do more than think about it…do it! Help them to see the errs in their ways and how fulfilling life can be when we adopt the Solution Provider approach. Communicate your commitment to helping them evolve. Show them examples of the successes you helped the team to enjoy by providing solutions and taking shared ownership.
3) Create – Create an opportunity for your protege to champion an idea. Have them write a white paper, develop a prototype, deliver a brief, or find another way to communicate their idea. Guide them through the implementation of their idea, coaching them as much or as little as they need. It’s important that their vision is realized, or at least something that resembles their initial solution is implemented. If they can’t get through the creation phase, they will never fully evolve. Even if they do, the transition is not complete until the cultivate.
4) Cultivate - The best means of assessing how committed a person is to a cause is to see how they are engaging and sharing their vision with others. Do they now care so much that they are completing the transformation by executing this very cycle with others? If the answer is yes and the cultivation of a Solution Provider culture is taking shape, then you are well on your way. Multiplication principles will take shape and with any luck you may find yourself amongst a small, but ever growing team of Solution Providers.
Fortunately, I have been on both sides of this continuum. In my early years, I was categorized, coached, helped to create, and experimented repeatedly with the capstone event, cultivation, as I evolved from Critic to Solution Provider. I thoroughly enjoyed the evolution and refuse to go back. Since then, I continue to categorize, coach, help others to both create and cultivate as they navigate their evolution. Quite honestly, I find nothing more personally fulfilling than repeating this cycle over and over, while inspiring others to do the same.
Where do you fall in this spectrum? Where do your friends, family members, and co-workers fall? How might you help grow the numbers of Solution Providers within your sphere of influence? How might you rid your team of Indifference Makers and Critics who refuse to see value in changing?