Address Small Issues Before They Become Big Problems

Sometimes it takes severe pain and discomfort before we initiate necessary change.

In most cases, before there was severe pain, there were signs of a problem developing. For a variety of reasons it doesn’t get addressed:

  1. You don’t want to be an alarmist.
  2. You aren’t certain you are right.
  3. You are afraid your news won’t be received well.

So, by not addressing it, things worsen over time. Before long, what could have been handled preventively becomes a major cleanup.

Business coach Dr. Henry Cloud says diligent thinkers have the courage to handle things early: “Diligence is bringing urgency to the things that aren’t shouting.”

As we adopt a lean culture, we will be more aggressive about preemptive efforts to catch problems before they are big. We will become more aggressive about making good better.

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Posted in: Communication, Improvement, Lean

Leave a Comment (2) ↓


  1. themantisshrimp August 16, 2013

    Thanks. What would you suggest a person do when they work for people who don’t listen to warnings? I have encountered this before and find it difficult to express concern when people overreact and almost put you in their cross-hairs for speaking up.

  2. Howe Wallace August 20, 2013

    The behavior of your manager is called “shooting the messenger.” In ancient times, the story is told of a king who received news that a key battle had been lost. Because the news possibly meant the end of his reign, he chose to deny its reality and ignore it. He burned the message and killed the messenger. It didn’t stop the inevitable.

    Discouraging truth telling and discussion by killing the messenger is harmful to the long-term success of the organization. Over time, the organization clams up and no one speaks out.

    So, what do you do?

    1. Confront it. Quietly. During a time where there is no pressure. Share your observation. “At times, I have questions or concerns about decisions. I feel a duty to raise them. It seems to make you angry. I feel myself withdrawing. I feel it would be more productive if we could discuss those difficult matters without fear of offending you.” Or something like that.

    2. Team up in the confrontation. Perhaps there is someone who has the leader’s ear. You could share your concerns and enlist her help in getting to a solution.

    3. Back down. Stay quiet. While I don’t recommend it, it’s a strategy. But, I believe it can lead to growing discontent. Eventually, you may do the next option:

    4. Go find another place. We all work best when we feel free to contribute, our ideas are valued, and our contributions make a difference. Life is short. Spending it in a frustrating work environment can lead to an unsettled life.

    Good luck.


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