What Do I Need to Solve This Problem?

Have you ever seen a team that’s wedged? They go around and around, not making progress. Maybe it’s happened to you, too.

I don’t get stuck often. That’s because I have no shortage of ideas. But sometimes, it’s not ideas that’s the problem.

I have a messy office. It’s true. I should belong to a 12-step program. “My name is Johanna and I have a messy office…”

Part of the problem is I don’t have a sufficient organizational structure to organize my office, and part of the problem is I don’t have the motivation to clean my office. Why? Because there’s no good place to put things. Do you see how these two problems feed off each other? Maybe if I solved the organization, I might have the motivation to put things away?

Now, my supplies are organized. When I need supplies for a trip or to teach a workshop, all my bins are exactly where I need them. Everything is organized. I know where things are. I can take out what I need, teach, put what I have remaining back when I’m done. No muss, no fuss.

But my desk? Let’s not go there. You would think that after 20 years of being independent, I would have figured this out. No, I have not.

In our new house, I am buying yet another desk. I hope that this one will be The Right Desk. It should be low enough to the floor and wide/deep enough that I will be happy. I expect to buy a monitor stand to have both my laptop and my extra monitor side-by-side. Right now, my laptop is in front and my monitor is off to the left. Not good ergonomics. That should move my phone forward, and allow me to have my piles of work in progress in a different location.

sideofdeskI happen to like seeing my work in progress. Yes, I have my personal kanban, so I can visualize my work in progress. But, I also like to see my workbooks, so I can work on the workbooks, and then recycle them. Not only do I get to move the stickies across the board, I get to review the previous workbooks, and recycle the actual paper. I feel as if I’ve accomplished a lot!

I don’t need a cheerleader, do I? I know I need to organize. If you look at the desk part of my office, you can see I need some organization.

How do I organize? That’s the question.

Let’s take a look at my monitors. It took me a while before I realized they might be the cause of this desk problem.

monitors See how in order to see my big monitor I have to have it sideways? That takes much valuable desk real estate. it pushes my phone down and to the left. That pushes my work in progress stack down and to the left also.

Now, I might want my work in progress stack exactly where it is. But you notice, I have no place to take notes if a client calls. That’s quite bad.

What do I need?

I don’t need ideas. I have plenty of ideas, also known as information.

I don’t need motivation. I really want to solve this problem.

I need organization.

This is the MOIJ model from Jerry Weinberg’s Becoming a Technical Leader.

So, what’s the J part of the model? That’s Jiggling. If you have a stuck team, or if you are stuck, what’s the smallest action you can take to help the team or you move again? For me, I realized they made monitor stands double-wide. Okay, stop laughing. I have no idea when they started making double-wide or triple-wide monitor stands. I’ve had an extra monitor since about 1994 or 1995. First, it was a two-page display. (Remember those?) I used it instead of my laptop. I’ve used a variety of extra monitors foreeevvveerrr. As my laptops had finer resolution and as my eyes got older, I got a printer stand, because I needed something before they made monitor stands. Did I have any idea they made double-wide monitor stands? No.

I suspect that pairing and and developers having multiple monitors has made my proposed organization possible. I am planning to get a double-wide monitor stand and put that in front of my keyboard. I can then move my phone up front. That will give me space to take client calls.

Will I still have my work in progress pile? Maybe. I have to live with my new arrangement for a while and see what happens. It’s possible I will work it down. Although, that rarely happens.

If you are working with a team, or wondering for yourself, “What is preventing me from acting on this problem?” check these things:

  1. Do you have enough information to solve the problem? (The I in MOIJ)
  2. Do you have enough organization to solve the problem? (The O in MOIJ)
  3. Do you have enough motivation to solve the problem? (The M in MOIJ)
  4. Do you need a little, subtle jiggle to nudge the problem-solving people to a better state? (The J in MOIJ)

MOIJ is much more than this. This is quick introduction. If you are interested in more, let me know.

In the meantime, today’s question of the week for us adaptable problem solvers is: What do I need to solve this problem?

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