I think we
have all had the opportunity to relax and talk with our coworkers around the
office. What is interesting is that invariably these impromptu discussions have
a tendency to become complaining sessions regarding the then current set of
ills befalling the company. I remember back to one of these sessions some time
ago where I was doing some of the complaining. What happened as a result of
that “discussion” still affects the way I work today.

complaining about a specific problem and my proposed specific solution to it,
one of the people in the group said to me:

“If you have
such a good solution, why don’t you take the initiative and do something about

I was at a
relatively early stage in my career. I thought their suggestion had merit. I
went ahead and took the risk and proposed an action. I put
together an overview of the issue, what my proposal to address the issue was,
and what the business case and benefit to the company would be. I took it up my
management chain.

I didn’t
think too much more about it until a couple of weeks later when I was asked to
come into a meeting and explain my approach to the issue and why I thought it
would work. I was actually called into a senior management staff meeting.

The toughest
question I had to answer was why I was making a suggestion about an issue that
was outside of my area of responsibility. I responded by saying that I thought
I had a workable answer to the problem. The result of the meeting was that I
was given the challenge of implementing the solution I proposed.

Not every
suggestion that I have made since has been as well received, however several of
them have been. The point is that it pays to take the initiative. Putting a
considered solution proposal together to address an issue is always in order.
We have all learned that no one has the market cornered on good ideas. As I
have moved on in management I have kept the lesson I learned in mind and still
try to practice it.

If you see a
problem and you think you have a good solution to it, go ahead and propose the
solution. Don’t just complain. Don’t say it isn’t your job or it’s not your
responsibility. Understand that it’s okay if you are told “no”, and your
proposal is not acted upon. Taking the initiative on the solving of all types
of problems seems to be the space that we all need to get back into.

The next time you find yourself discussing the problems facing your
company today, remember to take the initiative and step up and propose a
solution. Good suggestions on how to address issues are always appreciated and
they can help establish your ability to help solve some of the issues facing
business today.

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