How do you contribute to the problem, even if that is as small as 10%?

Blaming leads to a blind alley


Samin Saadat
Executive Director, Posted on Sep 13, 2023

I was curious about the team lead's decision to seek assistance from Jalapeno and began the conversation with a straightforward question.

Me: "What triggered you to reach out to Jalapeno?"

With a palpable sense of exhaustion and frustration, the team lead opened up about their struggles.

Team lead: "I am overworked, exhausted, and tired of managing people. It seems like there is no sense of accountability, and I have to constantly babysit and deal with issues even when I'm supposed to be off-duty. My team bombards me with trivial questions even after my working hours."

I empathetically acknowledged the lack of accountability within the team.

Me: "I am hearing that there is no sense of accountability within the team, and you feel like you have to be constantly available to ensure they perform. Is that correct?"

The team lead confirmed, "Yes, that's right."

However, the conversation took a turn when I probed further, asking the team lead to reflect on their role in contributing to this problem.

Me: "How do you contribute to this problem?" I paused for emphasis and then rephrased, "What part do you have in creating all these problems, even if that contribution is as small as 10% or 20%?"

The team lead was momentarily taken aback by the question, prompting a pause before responding...

In the early days of Jalapeno's establishment, I immersed myself in learning and applying principles from Peter Senge's system thinking and book The Fifth Discipline. In simple terms, Senge emphasizes that problems in any system result from interactions among its various components, agents, or individuals. Blame is often futile because behaviours and outcomes are influenced by numerous variables interacting with one another. In essence, when a problem arises within a system, everyone within that system shares some level of responsibility. This doesn't mean equal influence, but it does mean that each individual plays a role in the problem's creation if they are part of the system.

Yet, one aspect Senge delves into, which I've encountered extensively during many years of working with different managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders, is the challenging question: "How do you contribute to the problem, even if it's just by 10%?"

Addressing this question demands courage, reflection, vulnerability, and critical thinking that can result in the following benefits: 

  1. Focus on the Controllable: Channel your efforts towards aspects you have control over.

  2. Emotional Liberation: Free yourself from the shackles of anger, resentment, and blame and transition towards a more reflective and solution-oriented mindset.

  3. Discover Your Inner Power: Recognize that you possess more influence and capability than you might initially believe when it comes to resolving issues within your own sphere.

  4. Simplicity in Solutions: Realize that significant change doesn't always necessitate substantial financial investments. Sometimes, the most effective solution can be as straightforward as ignoring a self-critical or judgmental thought.

  5. Power Over Force: Rather than coercing others to align with your desires, learn to wield your personal power effectively. This means adjusting your own actions and contributions to shape the outcomes you desire while respecting the agency of those around you.

Companies have come to realize that they don't invest in us solely to provide solutions. They discover greater value in helping them define the problem and understand how they themselves contribute to it. This, in turn, empowers them to identify solutions and areas they can control.
At Jalapeno, we hold a fundamental philosophy: delivering sustainable solutions and a high return on investment for our clients. Yet, this approach only truly thrives when individuals are willing to embrace our philosophy of self-awareness. This means being brave enough to stop self-judgment and recognize how they contribute to the problem. Using this approach as a skill and a powerful tool is beneficial for their organizations and personal, business, and professional growth.

About the Author: The human brain, behaviour, and interactions with their environment never fail to intrigue Samin Saadat. After spending long hours in psychology labs at UBC and completing her Master's at the Sauder School of Business, she entered the workforce. She observed a gap between what research suggests and what companies do to increase productivity and profitability. Over the last 10 years, Samin has developed expertise in people growth and culture building by working closely with business owners and individuals to develop the right mindset, skills and environment for cultivating a thriving workforce. Also, Samin strongly believes every single individual, regardless of their race, age, status, gender, position, mental health matters and physical conditions, deserves to reach their full potential. They all have something unique to offer. Now, Samin is on a mission to bridge the existing gap in the workforce and support individuals and companies to reach their full potential through Jalapeño Employee Engagement—leveraging technology and psychology to bring research findings to life to help companies save invaluable dollars and to help individuals enhance their quality of life.