Does every problem in your business require you to fix it?

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers by nature. Creating new value in the world requires fixing a problem for the broader market. On top of that, businesses are problem creating machines. They’re dynamic organisms that require continual attention.

In the Marine Corps, there’s a position on CH-53 helicopters called “crew chief.” One of the jobs of the crew chief is to fix the helicopter while it’s flying. Businesses are like CH-53 helicopters and the operator is often running around its cargo bay with a wrench trying to keep it airborne.

In EOS, there are two leadership roles: integrator and visionary. This is because you can’t be tinkering on the helicopter and piloting it at the same time. The integrator is executing and the visionary is discovering value.

This doesn’t mean that every business needs to be a partnership or have a general manager. It just speaks to the nature of operating a business and the two competing needs of executing and moving forward.

In my business, we had a big problem this year with custom development projects going two to five times over our internal budget. We shield most of these costs from clients, but that comes to a cost to our profit.

As a natural problem solver, I can fix this. But the cost to fixing it is that I’ll take my eye off of value creation. As important, I have a team that delivers projects. By stepping in and implementing changes, I would actively dis-empower them. I’d train them that they’re not responsible for the results of the system that they operate. They’d also miss out on the opportunity to develop their own problem solving capacity and instead become more reliant on me.

It’s hard to restrain yourself from taking control. It’s slower to rely on others and often you pick up costs in the process because things don’t work right away. But if you’re the one accountable for problems in the business, the helicopter doesn’t move forward.

Featured image is the prototype CH-53. I was in a “helo” company in the infantry and have many memories of sitting in the cargo bay watching liquids drip from the ceiling as the helicopter made anxiety inducing sounds. Used under public domain.