Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Book Review: Without Warning

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Without Warning“Problems are our greatest challenge and opportunity, our greatest strength and weakness, and our greatest chance for success or failure.” According to Rodney Johnson, author of Without Warning: Breakthrough strategies for solving the silent problems taking aim at your organization, silent problems are one of the greatest challenges facing every organization, every business, and even public institutions. He writes about three types of problems plus one: simple, complex, wicked and silent. The first three are easier to deal with because people recognize them, they are out in the open and known to all involved. However, silent problems often get swept under the rug because they point to issues that are difficult to face; people don’t talk about them because they want them to go away.

In Without Warning Johnson recommends dealing with silent problems through what he calls the “CAP Initiative,” a process for solving silent problems. CAP is his acronym for Create-A-Problem. CAP is a process for bringing silent problems to light, putting context around them and arming you with tools to help you effectively solve and eliminate them. “The CAP initiative resets the silent problem, resets the questions, and begins to reset the behaviors and actions of the participants.”

To effectively use the CAP initiative to solve silent problems, Johnson recommends the following four steps:

  1. Make the problem visible and memorable: Bring the problem to the forefront; lead with the solution and create attention to the problem.
  2. Create a sense of urgency: Find ways to rally the team and help them understand the implications of the problems and the need to solve them.
  3. Allow anger — avoid fear: Fear leads people to avoidance. Anger, if channeled correctly, will motivate people to solve problems.
  4. The power of influence: The goal of a CAP initiative is to influence. Bringing silent problems out into the open makes them silent no longer. Once they are out you can deal with and solve them quickly and effectively.

Without Warning is a fast read with excellent real-world applications and pertinent information for leaders who are striving to move their organizations forward without the barnacles of silent problems.

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