There is a big difference between problem solving and problem finding. This is one of the differences that a Rookie Manager must learn quickly. A Rookie manager that has been promoted from the firing lines, from software development is trained to solve problems. Normally the best problem solver who is promoted to the team-leader or manager of the team.
But once you are a manager you are on a transition from a problem solver to a problem finder.
Suppose we have to solve the problem of heating a room to 25°C (77°F). This is something that a problem solver can wire up and and create a system that heats the room when the temperature falls below a certain degree. But the problem solver stops there. The problem is solved.
The problem finder, goes one more step and asks: “Why 25°C?”
As a manager you must start thinking in the Problem Finding Paradigm and once you get there you must start thinking in the Opportunity Finding Paradigm. What opportunities does the team/company have?
Try to find problems in your team/company.
- What is the bottleneck of my team?
- How can we handle external pressure better?
- How can we communicate better?
- How can we code faster? better quality?
- What does the team need to learn?
Remember that your team knows how to solve problems, so ask for their help in solving them, but it is your task to uncover them.
Management for geeks is an oxymoron. That’s sad because this is one the most valuable advice, not just for programmers, but for anyone in any profession. Hopefully it catches on!