Don’t Find Fault, Find a Remedy

By | March 24, 2019

[March 24, 2019] Henry Ford was one of America’s foremost industrialists; revolutionalizing assembly-line modes of production for the automobile. It comes as no surprise that the title of my article today is one of his direct quotes; don’t find fault, find a remedy.

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.” – Henry Ford, American captain of industry

I’ve quoted Henry Ford before here at theLeaderMaker.com (see articles here, here, and here). Although very well-known, Henry Ford is more known for his manufacturing prowess than for the specifics of his underlying leadership philosophy about how to get things done. His idea was there is a solution for every problem, and each of us has the power to find it.

Being a senior military leader, I attended many military meetings; more than the value is worth attending. But I was there. What I would hear at nearly every meeting was a complaint or two about something that affected our mission readiness. Such observations were valuable and encouraged. What was missing in nearly every case was there was no solution offered.

One friend of mine, another General Officer, once said that each time he went to a meeting, someone would lob a hand-grenade (metaphorically, of course) onto the table.1 It was as if it was his responsibility to solve it, right then and there. The person throwing it could now sit back and relax; no responsibility there. The issue was out, and everyone’s eyes would move about those in the room to see who would tackle it.

When I was a Captain in the U.S. Army Infantry, I made a temporary rule that anyone who brought up a problem would also have to offer at least one reasonable solution. My intent was not to reduce the number of issues to be brought to me but to get my Platoon Leaders to think hard about solving problems.

Ford’s idea that it is better to find a remedy than just to find fault, is something we should all consider. Leaders who fail to adopt this idea will certainly struggle throughout their career; unnecessarily so as this can be seen as an unforced error. They may not fail, but the path to getting things done will be more difficult.

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  1. Another friend of mine compared this to throwing dog pooh into our laps.
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Don’t Find Fault, Find a Remedy

  1. Drew Dill

    Good job. Keep these relevant articles coming our way.

  2. Willie Shrumburger

    Where can I apply this in my life? That would largely depend on how often you find things which are not working or are in need of improvement. However, anytime you do notice something not working right, I would challenge you to try to come up with at least one way it could be fixed or made better.

    1. Roger Yellowmule

      If you hear someone else complaining, try to get them to brainstorm with you.

  3. Anita

    The basic premise of this quote is that if you are bright enough to notice that it is broken, you probably have an idea or two about how to either fix it or do/make it better.

  4. Eric Coda

    Spring is finally here (at least for those of us living in the northern hemisphere). Yes, I know we have a number of readers from Australia, New Zealand, South American, and a few from Africa. What Spring brings forth is a renewal of ideas. I suggest Gen. Satterfield create a mini-series on how “not to be a leader.” Just an idea. Thoughts?

    1. Joe the Aussie

      Thanks Eric, I agree with you and thank you for the shout-out for those not living in the US. Cheers.

  5. Yusaf from Texas

    Great article and thanks for embedding quotes from famous people. It makes my day.

    1. Len Jakosky

      Spot on comment, Yusaf.
      Thanks to Gen. Satterield for the article. I’m sitting here with my old hound dog, drinking coffee, and reading my iPad with your website on it.

  6. Wilson Cox

    I too have been at many meetings. So many are boring beyond belief and have little value. Many of these meetings are conducted because it’s the “rule” rather than by necessity. I like your idea of making people also suggest a solution to any problem they bring up. I would also suggest that the solution be a viable one that makes sense, not just any old idea.

  7. JT Patterson

    I understand that Henry Ford was a charismatic man with significant ambitions. He was also a transformational leader. Studying those who are successful is a great strategy on how to get better at what you do.

  8. Janna Faulkner

    I get stuff dumped on my desk from time to time, with just a comment of “fix it” or “it doesn’t work right.” What’s up with that. Too many folks don’t think or take the time to do so.

    1. Greg Heyman

      As an engineer, this is my pet peeve. People bring me things, and say “It’s broken,” and walk away. That’s not very helpful, is it? I don’t think so.

  9. Watson Bell

    Henry Ford was a much smarter guy than we normally give him credit for. Today, many of our younger adults are taught that industrialists like Ford were “evil” because they exploited the average worker. But Ford made the lives of his workers far better than the average person who didn’t work at his automobile manufacturing plants.

    1. AutisticTechie

      Yeah, he exploited his workers and took their work for almost nothing in return. Sarcasm off/ Hehehehe

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