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Firemen are dedicated, fearless people. They understand their responsibility is to save lives and property. They train and practice to ensure they will be prepared to do everything possible to save lives and property. When they are not in the middle of a fire, they work with the community to reduce risks of fires. Their main job, though, is fighting the fire.

I would like to make a comparison of firemen to those people inside companies whose main contribution is solving issues. Every organization has a need for firemen – groups/teams that fix issues for the success of the team and the business. I have never heard of a fireman giving the owner of the burning house a lecture or complaining they had to come out at night to put out the fire. Firemen understand what their customer needs – someone to address the fire, NOW.

If you are the leader of firemen (or the fireman)…

  • Make sure your team brings water not gasoline.
  • They must come with an attitude of helping, not judging.
  • Make sure your team understands that the urgency needed to fix the issue should be done within schedule, within costs where possible.
  • Just like firemen working with the community to reduce fires, leaders of problem solving groups must engage AND help prevent the next one. Like Smokey said, “Only you can prevent a forest fire.”
  • Make sure your team understands being the problem solver is a noble responsibility and one the team must have. While over time fixing other people’s issue can be wearisome, it is needed. Fires happen – putting them out fast is what makes a company successful.
  • If you are the leader of the team whose “house is on fire”, appreciate those helping. Some fires are accidents, many can be prevented. Work to make sure your house is not always on fire.

I hate the office sign that says “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”. In a healthy organization, if you are part of the team and a problem solver – urgency is your responsibility. Work to reduce last minute issues – but don’t let your house burn down in the process.

Be intentional