What’s Really Going on Here?

Recently, a few of us undertook reading the Arbinger Institute’s Leadership and Self-Deception. As I headed into it, the text quickly forced me to consider how often, as leaders, we don’t really see the truth in what is happening around us. Like our followers (and basically every human), we are subject to our filters, our stories, our “reality.”

The problem is that without some better “reality,” solving real problems becomes overwhelming. We might ease a symptom of a problem or delay it from showing up, but truly solving an issue without some greater reality is unlikely.

So, how can we get more reality and less self-deception? We need to harness the power of the team and listen to each other better. We need to throw our ideas into the team’s pool of knowledge without owning it too much. We need to be more open-minded. We need to look for the root of the problem. Doing this is a skill that can be learned, both on a personal and team level. There has to be enough safety and team respect present for people to be vulnerable in the interest of the project.

As constructors, engineers, and computer programmers, we solve problems all day long. The question is: How effective are we? Do we work on the symptoms, or the root causes? Our industry deserves better when it comes to problem solving. The modern world of capital projects is quickly growing more complex, and we often don’t have as much time as we used to to really solve problems well.

Don’t we owe the largest industry in the world and its clients some skill building at finding reality?


Dave Crumrine, Interstates Construction President