Why are some challenges with teams or businesses so hard to correct? Maybe we fail to spend enough time learning from the bright spots.
In 1990, the Save the Children foundation, which fights malnutrition, was invited to open an office in Vietnam. But they were allowed into the country under one difficult condition: they had six months to make a difference. Six months to improve malnutrition in a country where sanitation and poverty were big issues.
Instead of focusing on the problems, the foundation team found bright spots: mothers who, despite poverty and difficult conditions, raised children who were healthy and properly nourished. In the book Switch, the authors Chip and Dan Health discussed how the foundation discovered that healthy kids were fed four times a day instead of two. Spacing the same amount of calories over more meals made it easier for the children to digest everything.
In addition, healthy kids were fed more actively by their moms, which encouraged the children to eat even when they were sick. Also, bright spot moms mixed tiny shrimp, crabs, and sweet-potato greens into the rice, food normally reserved for adults.
By identifying the bright spots, the Save the Children foundation helped identify practices that, when implemented, helped the Vietnamese people experience a significant drop in malnutrition.
What challenge are you currently facing? If you are facing issues with teamwork, for example, identify the bright spots: those on the team who are excelling. What are they doing that is working so well, and how can you transfer those practices to others on the team?
The next time you encounter a difficult challenge consider spending less time with the problem and more time investigating the bright spots.