Getting To First Base May Be A Better Leadership Strategy Than Nailing A Home Run


Contrary to popular opinion, achieving your final destination as quickly as possible may not always be the best choice. Although we feel pressure to tackle our projects speedily so we can move on to our next task, that approach may be doing us a disservice.

Has this ever happened to you?

You and your team decide to brainstorm ways to solve a tricky problem you are facing. You keep the process going in order not to lose momentum as you have a looming deadline. Time is chasing you madly. You think you know what to do after a brief discussion so you make a quick decision. Done. You all agree on the solution and put the game plan into action to meet the deadline. Except for one thing. You didn’t clearly define the problem so you are instituting a solution that is far off center from what is really going on. You rammed through the problem solving process not allowing much disagreement or questions. Now the team must go back to the drawing board and begin the process all over again.

Striking the right balance between dealing with a tight time crunch and arriving at the best solution is essential for team success. We need to make sure we honor and rejoice in each step of the process. Here are are few tips to guide us into first base:


When we initially address a roadblock it is critical to clearly define the problem. If teams generate data and solutions for the wrong problem they will never hit the right solution. A good question to ask that may actually get you closer to the challenge is: What is not the problem?


Keeping the discussion on track while facilitating the suggestions and ideas being shared can prevent a team from derailment. Use a flip chart to write down what each person thinks is the real problem. Look at all sides of the problem, not allowing solutions to be initially introduced. That comes later. Remember finding the solution too quickly can lead to detrimental results or a total do-over.


We all know what it feels like when we have too many opinions, all competing to be the “chosen one”. We can end up with an insurmountable amount of data to slosh through. The flip side is actually worse. When people’s ideas are not considered or ruled out before careful analysis, the best suggestion may be overlooked. Welcome all the input and then explore its viability.


No one wants to miss a deadline but what is more damaging is not taking enough time to process the data and then jumping to the wrong conclusions. Patience is needed for a team to define the problem correctly before rushing to decide on the best solutions. An important part of problem solving is leaving no stone unturned so even the most unlikely possibilities are exposed. When was the last time you said: “I should not have spent so much time on this issue even though we clearly defined the real problem.” Probably never. Getting the problem identified will always put you on a path to stronger and beneficial solutions. Getting a successful hit to first base may be just what helps a team win the game.

What has been your experience in problem solving? How do you make sure you’re solving the real issues at hand?


(photo credit)


10 thoughts on “Getting To First Base May Be A Better Leadership Strategy Than Nailing A Home Run

  1. Really like your post Terri. Have also seen research that espouses some opposing findings on time. There was support for giving yourself a small amount of time to identify ideas. In that scenario, a small amount of time is allocated to find solutions. The researchers found that providing extra time did not yield better results. More than likely, what was left out is that some things may be more suited for a greater amount of time (while others are better suited for allocating a small amount of time). You make a good case for giving yourself time to think things through. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  2. Very interesting study, Joy. I agree that with certain projects too much time can cause teams to over process and not find different or better solutions.

    When each step of the process is done thoroughly, there is more of a possibility of success. Inclusion of ideas and respect for everyone’s input can lead teams to outstanding results.

    Thanks for your great additions Joy!

  3. A great statement: “Sometimes it’s just more important to go slow to go fast!” No ifs, ands or buts. Acknowledging and being thoughtful at each step can impact the end result immensely.

    Thanks Karin!

  4. Good points, Terri. Getting the timeliness right along with the appropriate solution can be challenging at times. An agile way may help navigate these waters, meaning test incrementally, learn, adjust, test again… implement fully. If the situation allows, a more iterative approach may nail the right solution to the right problem. Thanks! Jon

  5. Excellent Article . Infact we had a practical experience of a big project wherein a Hasty
    Decision has put all of us in the doc.

    If I look back , if we had identified a first base things would have been different



  6. I love your steps of problem solving because patience and re-evaluation are essential to make sure the problem is clearly defined and the proper solutions are considered.

    Having a process and honoring each part can be the most helpful for team success.

    Thanks Jon!

  7. Great words of wisdom, Terri!

    Love this: “Contrary to popular opinion, achieving your final destination as quickly as possible may not always be the best choice.”

    This compliments the thinking that we need to “hurry up so we can wait.” Things take time and we need to have the patience to make sure all points of view and avenues of action are properly assessed.

    Love this!

  8. It is important that every stakeholder feels they have been heard and their suggestions have been considered. In one volunteer organization I am involved, a group of people tried to push through an important decision without consulting all the board. It did not go well and the board felt undervalued and ignored. The result was a less than ideal solution.

    Thanks LaRae!

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