You are viewing an archive of our posts and leadership content. We have evolved. Click here for the New Leadership Hub.

IDEAS FOR LEADERS: The Necessity of Causing Problems

by Jerry Tarasofsky July 10, 2012

An original post from Andy Nulman

So I’m meeting with the President of a major Canadian corporation. Flanked by his executive team, he sits down at the boardroom table and opens up the meeting with this unequivocal statement:

“We are here to do this deal.”

One by one, his exec team puts a caveat to his statement.

“Well, we are here to FIND WAYS to do this deal.”

And that’s when it hit me.

A revelation.

A revelation of what we all do on a day-to-day basis at work.

The way I see it, there are two types of people in every company:

1–Those who solve problems.

2–Those who cause problems.

Some people are exceptional at solving other people’s problems. In a controlled environment, they listen, weigh options, take a decision and follow through on a course of action. In an uncontrolled environment, like a crisis situation, they take charge and deftly react to the chaos that surrounds them.

Other people, like the President in the aforementioned meeting, are experts in creating problems…particularly for those around them. They take decisions first and let others sift through the rubble their decisions may cause.

A great business needs both types of people. Unless your a psychiatrist or accountant or handyman, you can’t grow a business just by fixing other people’s messes. Every major sale, every major contract, every major advance is–first and foremost–creating a problem for the status duo. But without these problems, you’re lost.

Example: tomorrow, Just For Laughs starts filming a brand new TV show in Toronto for the W network. Just getting to shoot day #1 caused dozens of problems for our finance, programming and operations departments, not to mention the W’s marketing and publicity and contractual teams, as well as the production team that’s trying to corral everyday people into extraordinary situations and film it all via cleverly hidden cameras.

But these problems are our lifeblood, as they are the W network’s. Without them, what do we do for a living?

Picasso once said that “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” There is a parallel there as it pertains to this week’s lesson/grand revelation.

So to my staff and colleagues and partners, let me apologize in advance.

Because not only did I realize that there are two types of people in every company…

I realized that I’m way better at causing problems than solving them.

Call me a Problem Child…and let the good times roll!


NOTE: Just For Laughs starts this week in Montreal.

Many organization issues are avoided or not recognized. The Organization Optimizer quickly and efficiently identifies where these may be, so that they don’t become surprises.

We’re taking our annual summer break until Aug 21st. Have a great summer.