Recently I sought the professional input from a colleague regarding a dilemma I was having on a project. His response, however, caught me off guard. With a smile on his face he replied, “Why are you asking me, I don’t know. You probably have more knowledge on this than I do.” My colleague wasn’t being disrespectful, simply direct. In fact, he was a bit flattered that I even sought his professional opinion, but in a polite way he was saying, “You are empowered and you don’t need my help on this one.” “Just figure it out.”
I share this because “Just Figure It Out” is a concept many leaders and employees here at CMOE use on a frequent basis. The concept is really quite simple. On any given day or at any time in your work, you might be required to “just figure out” the solution or answer to a problem or dilemma. All too often, individuals become reliant on someone in the organization to answer all their questions, a leader, a subject matter expert, or they get caught up in a pattern of group think where only one person is qualified to make a decision. No one should be the only one making decisions. It not only takes away time from other issues but inhibits creativity.
If much of today’s workforce felt empowered to think, make decisions, and figure it out on their own, many organizations would improve their bottom lines. By empowering others, we enable them to utilize their strengths and talents, unleashing hidden capabilities that will bring great ideas to life.
A good example of this is IBM. Ponder the concept of being in business and having demand for your product for a full century. In 2011, IBM celebrated its 100 birthday, an amazing feat and accomplishment for any business but especially for IBM in its highly competitive market. This business simply cultivated a nature of strategic individuals who were empowered to think, act, and create demand for their product for 100+ years. It all started with one individual who told a coworker to THINK and “Just figure it out.”