This approach is even better than pitching an idea (versus pitching ideas).
My least favorite conversations are when someone either:
A) Gives me the solution to a problem that hasn't been defined.
B) Gives me the problem and then gives me a solution and asks me to only give feedback on the solution.
You can't solve problems until you agree on the problem. And few people want to be brought in to give feedback on something if you've already decided what you're going to do. I call this "stamp of approval" brainstorming. It's not brainstorming-- it's just agreeing with what someone else came up with.
So when you want someone's advice or if you're leading a team, don't pitch ideas. Pitch problems. You have to sell problems just as passionately as selling ideas.
Say, "I think this is a problem with X" and then ask, "What do you think?"
Once you agree about the problem, ask, "What do you think we should do?" If they can't think of anything, that's when you pitch an idea. If you follow this process you help people get in a creative mindset versus a passive mindset and they will better engage with the problem solving process.
This conversation will lead to truly genuine problem solving and ownership of both the problem and the solution.
Posted on Thu, May 6, 2010