top of page

Problem-Solving: An Attainable Superpower -- PART 1

Isn't it time to Break Out of the “Sisyphus-Groundhog Day” Effect?

WARNING 1: This writing contains “snarcasm” (snarky plus sarcasm… get it?) and is not recommended for those who are too hypersensitive. If you end up offended by the end, then this warning was for you, so you should have stopped here. (At least now you know that you are hypersensitive if you didn’t before.)

WARNING 2: This writing contains broken grammar rules and made up terms. That is intentional. Please don't waste your time correcting me. Redundancy for the sake of redundancy... I knew the rules and broke them on purpose.

Why do I claim that the Ability to Effectively Solve Problems is like Attaining a Superpower?

Well... If you aren’t dealing with repetitious problems and their symptoms, and are continuing to prioritize solving more problems as they arise, you will be reducing a whole lot of negatives and increasing a whole lot of positives.

This is like performing little miracles that have an instant positive impact on the people that they affect. It helps them physically, mentally and emotionally when they don't have to deal with the nonsensical BS.

AND performance & results can be much better with the problematic dragons slayed.

By training people throughout the organization to become problem-solvers you create a powerful positive culture with improvement in its DNA. People will develop confidence and a can-do attitude with collaboration and truly be empowered and engaged at making things better at work.

You & your team mates can envision that tomorrow will be better than today...because together we will figure out how to make it so!

That's the type of organization people want to work for; not some organization that doesn't care how bad the daily grind is for them where there is an attitude of "not my job"/"not my problem" and views them as a body, a headcount, a pair of hands... or ultimately A COST rather than an asset.

With effective problem-solving, people in organizations adapt and overcome to make things better.


Although some people say "we’re just playing for fun" and "it’s not a competition", I'm going to have to call BS. It's not fun getting your butt kicked everyday by an overwhelming defeat and resenting the fact that you will have to get up again tomorrow and do it all again.

That's a different kind of F.U.N. that we'll save for another digression another time.

It’s a heck of a lot more fun to play when you are winning…

AND if you don't know how or don't prioritize problem-solving, you'll find that you're too busy fixing things as they fail. Then, other proactive actions will be neglected and more problems will spring up to fix and even less time will be available to focus on ensuring a positive future... and the downward spiral will accelerate as you lurch from crisis to crisis to fiasco. (Crisis is a very stressful internal disaster. Fiasco is when the internal crises spreads and goes external and your distributors and customers bear witness to your dirty laundry.)

Management by kneejerk reaction is like riding in the back of a school bus fishtailing completely sideways from ditch to ditch on a narrow gravel road with a delusional bus driver that thinks that they're an amazing stunt driver demonstrating their expert drifting skills and hitting every pothole and ramping every set of train tracks for extra points to impress their mesmerized captive audience while you suffer concussions and whiplash and they are expecting your undying loyalty and a standing ovation. No one wants to ride that bus, and might even feel safer to jump off while it's moving.

This leads to sub-par or mediocre performance (at best), and the organization will be passed by and eventually become a footnote in history about just another organization that outlived its usefulness and became extinct which typically negatively impacts the lives of its employees and the communities the live in.

Let that be the route the competition decides to take. Instead take the higher road... the one less traveled.

On a more cheerful note, if you do develop and utilize your Problem-Solving Superpowers, a whole lot of positive outcomes can be enjoyed personally and among the rest of the organization. Having the ability to make performance better while reducing the daily stress of yourself and your colleagues. That is a place where hope and vision can survive and thrive. It's like a having silver bullet that can impact multiple targets (or kill nasty monsters like werewolves).

This is a non-exhaustive list of benefits of the impact of effectively solving problems that I believe justifies claiming that Problem-Solving could be categorized as a Superpower:

  • Less Defects (Lower Rework & Scrap)

  • Less Downtime

  • Fewer Delays

  • Less Energy Wasted (Human & Utilities)

  • Less Time Wasted

  • Lower Material Costs (Scrap & Consumables for Rework)

  • Less Inventory (Higher Inventory Turns)

  • Less Pollution Created

  • Less Stress & Frustration (Higher Morale)

  • Less Absenteeism & Turnover

  • Less Overtime

  • More Productive Time --> Higher Throughput (Must get through the Bottleneck --> More Sales)

  • Higher Delivery Performance --> On-Time in Full & Shorter Lead Times

  • Higher Customer Demand

  • More Sales with Same Resources

  • Higher Net Profit --> Lower Costs & Expenses, Lower Inventories, & Higher Sales

  • Higher Stakeholder Satisfaction --> Customers, Owners, Employees…& Maybe Even Suppliers & Distributors

Solving the right problems at the right times is very powerful.

You need the know-how. You need to prioritize. You need support to see it through to completion.

Keep learning and honing your problem-solving skills to attain and enhance your superpowers.

Then solve more challenging problems, more efficiently and effectively.

Why not make the world a better place? 

Stop saying “It is what it is” and learn how to do something about it. If something bothers you, don’t just complain & argue about it. Figure out how to do something positive about it.

PS – Someone might want to tell Congress about problem-solving, so they’ll stop flushing our money down the toilet for things that don’t address root causes and then having the audacity to demand more to flush. Just saying…


Wait a second, what is “Sisyphus-Groundhog Day” Effect?

I'll answer that question with another question.

Do you ever feel like you get up in the morning and go through the same punishing routine of rolling boulders up a hill, banging your head against the wall, rowing your boat in the same circles, digging a hole & filling it back in, or fighting the same fires day in and day out? If know what the “Sisyphus-Groundhog Day” Effect is already.

For those that are a little slower, or live in a utopian dream world and have never experienced this level of frustration, it's when you have to repetitiously deal with avoidable BS with no end in sight.

Most of us can relate to that feeling. Others literally know what it’s like.


Digression 1:

One time, all 8 members of a kaizen event team showed me their burn scars from molten material contact they received from fighting repetitious fires on their production line in their efforts to minimize the spread of fire and downtime and quality. While fighting fires on one line, another line or two could then catch fire while unattended. My internal dialogue: “Gee Whiz… I wonder why turnover is so high. What a mystery!”

(Claiming Safety is your top priority and making safety your top priority are two different things.)


When do you get to the point that you decide that Enough is Enough?

…And further decide to take action to solve a problem rather than continuing to perpetually manage the chaos of a plethora of ongoing symptoms.

I'm going out on a limb here to confess that I am personally not satisfied dealing with unnecessary repetitious BS.

Does this make me toxic if I speak up and express dissatisfaction?

It Depends How I Communicate my Dissatisfaction

Should I:

A. Adopt a more positive mindset and pretend everything is fine & dandee? Or...

B. Roll with my instincts and be more authentic to myself and listen to my own voice?

Option B would lead me take more of a triage approach to life and prioritize my time and resources in solving the problems that I can, when I can. This still must be done with some emotional intelligence.

Note the Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference…

Personally, I feel like I've got a pretty high dose of courage and wisdom built up from seeking out skills to confidently solve a wide variety of problems, and a relatively low dose of serenity; however, I am highly thankful and grateful for every little thing in my life, especially the people I'm fortunate enough to have encountered throughout my life.

Can we really have it both ways?

I say yes. Grateful AND sick and tired of nonsensical BS that can be easily eradicated.

We can actually change a lot of things IF we don't go around claiming serenity when facing unnecessary BS that would be relatively easy to rectify.

However, there is an art to making change.

It's important to have some takt when expressing dissatisfaction with the current state of things. Those being unskilled in the art often rub others the wrong way and fail. Blurting out offensive descriptions (however accurate they may be) as well as half-baked ideas for solutions often does not win many friends or generate the positive outcomes they hope to influence. Then they will claim people won’t listen and/or there is too much resistance and give into apathy (as opposed to serenity). Some will even adapt a socially acceptable façade and pretend to just be full of an abundance of gratitude, which is much more acceptable than calling BS what it is.

That my friends could get you fired or your very “position eliminated”...

I have heard a lot of things…

  • It is what it is.

  • It’s the way of the world.

  • It’s the way we’ve always done it.

  • It could always be worse.

  • At least we know what to expect.

  • You get what you get, don't throw a fit.

    • Engineer to an operations manager after a piss poor design launched to production...essentially sabotaging production

  • Take one for the team.

    • VP/Boss to Site Manager after ordering him to take actions that will adversely affect his site's performance & team's morale

  • Suck it up, buttercup.

  • If you want an easy job, go find a job serving ice cream.

  • We tried something different once and it didn’t work.

  • Gotta put food on the table, so... (Basically justify any level of BS as my living sacrifice for my family)

  • Yes, Sir. Yes, Ma’am. Thank you, Sir, may I have another. (Some will get the comedic reference…lol)

Things can be much better than they are now. But it will require that we push pause and take a step back to think about how things work and why.


Digression 2: 

"OMG… you mean we would have to stop doing what we’ve always done momentarily. That would probably cause the end of the world… right?"

Well...if you must compulsively keep doing it, go right ahead. Once it gets bad enough, we can get someone else (at a cost) to watch and observe your process for you in order to figure it out and improve the dismal or mediocre performance from “the way we’ve always done it”.


Some Good News: Everything Happens for a Reason. 

We have a set of conditions and a chain of events leading up to the final event that triggers us into fix it mode. By the time we start executing our fix as fail routine, we may be dealing with multiple symptoms of a problem. Then we find ourselves spending a lot of time and energy cleaning up messes rather than focusing more positively and proactively to help us navigate to a future where we are thriving and flourishing without all the messes to fix.


Digression 3: 

Idiopathic is used to describe a disease with no known cause. It is a mystery. But now if it is labeled idiopathic, we will look no further into it. However, it does not mean that it is impossible to figure it out. In the medical/healthcare industry, it means most likely you’ll be prescribed some antibiotics &/or antivirals and a little hope that it will work itself out on its own. Good luck with that. The doctors have given up on finding the root cause and are throwing generic stuff at the wall. :(


A wise man once said...

Thinking go Hand-in-Hand. They are better together.
Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking go Hand in Hand. They are better together.

To be Continued in Part 2...


Who should Enhance their Problem-Solving Superpowers?

Well Bob… Without problem-solving, the root causes will remain and thus the plethora of symptoms, and progress is much slower… because we’ll just keep doing things the way we’ve always done them just because “it’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Problem-Solving is a core skill needed for everyone, and at every level of an organization from top to bottom. It should start with executive leadership and engineering, process improvement, quality departments, then middle management and front-line leaders, then finally staff and other employees. Those mentioned first need to do it first... and demonstrate what good looks like.


Want to Start Building Your Arsenal of Superpowers?

Check out our self-study eLearning course if you would like to learn more about problem-solving in our Fundamentals of Problem-Solving course. 

We also have this course included in a package of classes to help develop your other Superpowers that everyone should work on attaining before we all go extinct:

If you're curious about our other courses, check out our course catalog.

For More Info Contact:

O 888.489.5121

F      704.479.7206

Charlotte, NC, United States

bottom of page