[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.
- Another friend of mine compared this to throwing dog pooh into our laps.