Take a Brick out Put a Brick Back

December/24/2008 1:39AM
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As a business executive, I enjoyed a lot of very talented people to work with and around. There were two traits that I grew very intolerant toward. First was the employee who would come to me and say, “we have a problem”. Early on, I loved these challenges. I could help my direct reports solve these problems and I made me feel good. Later in my career, I grew wiser. My response was always :” no, you have a problem. If I have to solve your problem, I don’t need you. If I have to find someone else in our group to solve your problem, I don’t need you. If you go away and solve your problem, I don’t even need to know you had a problem.” Usually, an employee only came once with the “we have a problem” story. 

The second trait was the faultfinder. Every organization needs good faultfinders. But, if all they do is find faults, never offer solutions, no organization needs them. Whenever an employee would point out a fault, my response was: “take a brick out, put a brick back”. I welcome your idea that we have a fault with something, but I don’t want to hear the fault if you haven’t thought about it long enough to come up with a possible fix. 

Some commenter’s have pointed out that this blog only points out faults and no solutions. Pulling bricks out, not putting bricks back. There is some merit to that criticism. I have said from the beginning that the premise of this blog is the theory that I believe my grand children will be the first generation in this country to have a lower standard of living than their parents. Further, I blame my generation for this. Lastly, I believe my generation has an obligation to put energy and resources into this before we depart this earth. I believe we have the talent and time now to make a difference.

Even with consensus science, like global warming, you must make a case for it to get consensus.If I see that one glacier fall one more time I will scream. So, most of this year I’m making a case for my theory.

Today, I went back through the blogs to see if I have grossly violated my two pet peeves. First, am I bringing you, the readers, a problem and saying “we have a problem”? Second, am I taking hundreds of bricks out and putting none back?

I doubt that any of you will go back and read over 300 entries so you may have to trust me on this . 

By my count 95% of the entries have a problem and a possible solution. Perhaps neither the problem or the solution is one a reader accepts, but they are there. The rest probably violate the brick out, brick back in. In my defense, remember, my theory is not a rosy future for my grand children. If I thought that, I could go back to reading fiction and sleep well at night.

My third great bit of wisdom is the mirror test. When business people have to make tough decisions they often struggle with how the outcomes effect others. For me, the mirror test was the only answer to this. If I could face myself in the mirror with the decision, I was OK with it.

After re-reading almost a year’s work and giving it the three big litmus tests, I’m OK with where this blog has been and where it’s going.

I set out to try to make more people think about what we might be doing to our kids and grand kids down the road with out actions past and present. My generation can dwarf most of the groups that make protests today. The hard core environmentalists have hundreds of young deadbeats that can show up at a protest at a moment’s notice. We have millions of retirees who can do the same.

My long-term goal is to get this generation to transform apathy into action. We have the anger now, it’s just a matter of organization until we make ourselves heard. 

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Comments (2)

  1. Anna Catalano says:

    As a one-time recipient of the "I don’t have a problem" comment, I applaud you for going back and taking accountability for your own actions! The same philosophy needs to be applied to parenting these days. Over the years I have taken a page out of the management book, and have chosen to raise a couple of teenagers who are learning to solve their own problems. I often hear their friends’ parents complaining that their kids are such a pain…and wonder why they continue to swoop in and fix the kids’ mistakes. Our country is raising a large segment of the next generation with no coping skills and quick to blame everyone but themselves for their shortcomings.

  2. Bill Robertson says:

    Anna, you were a quick learned. My daughters would both agree they benefited from those lessons. You gave me a good idea for a future blog about my younger daughter and how she applied that lesson to a problem at school.


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