The current U.S. efforts to fight terrorism are an unwinnable battle. The majority of effort, money, and planning is spent trying to protect against “Movie Plot Threats.” The problem with this mindset though, is that there will always be a different easier method to attack, a different avenue, or a loophole.
For example – Liquids are banned because they are dangerous, but thrown into a big container directly next to where the line queues. Even odder is that small containers of liquids are safe as long as they are in a zip lock bag. These efforts are pure security theater, no one is one bit safer because of these solutions.
Many organizations have these same issues and there are many parallels between these policies and how groups are managed.
When managers are handed a problem, they work within the frame of that problem to find a solution. They make decisions that will protect them if something goes wrong, instead of making the right decision of the whole.
This is what is happening in the U.S. government now. The solutions that they are coming up with, are “solutions” to yesterdays threats with no apparent thought to the bigger picture or focus where they could have an impact and truly make people safer.
On the other hand, leaders see problems as a subset of larger issues and ask “why” until they get to the root cause. They align these solutions to the overall vision.
For instance, they would see the futility in chasing these threats that are moving targets and focus on solutions that would help regardless of how the country is attacked. Recruiting and training more First responders – who are of utmost importance in any disaster. Improving relations/conditions in other countries and not wantonly attacking other countries and creating breeding grounds for exactly what they are attempting to protect against.
You are handed problems everyday in your job, do you solve the issue as quickly as possible to only move on to the next? Or are you actively working towards solving the root causes of the issues in your organization?
This is the harder path, because these larger problems are often outside of your immediate circle of influence. They take longer to solve, but they opportunities that are begging for you to take the lead on. When you take the problems and projects that are doomed to failure or that no one wants to touch, you become invaluable. You, and the people that you lead become the group that senior leadership comes to when something must be done right.