The Bright Spot Question

It’s really easy for leaders to get so frustrated with what’s not working, so enamored with the new and exciting, and so enthralled with problems to be solved, that we forget something really huge…BRIGHT SPOTS. Bright spots are the areas of your organization that are working. And because they’re working, it’s easy to forget about them and get distracted by the squeaky wheel.

I’m not saying to ignore problems. Doing so can turn problems into crises. What I am saying is to pay attention to your bright spots. Bright spots are not only working right, they’re delivering great results. And there’s a reason they’re working so well. That reason is what you need to uncover. What lessons can be learned from your bright spots? And how can these lessons be leveraged to create more bright spots?

Chip Heath and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, captures the philosophy of bright spots in a single question: “What’s working, and how can we do more of it?” Unfortunately, most leaders are fixed solely on a different question: “What’s broken, and how do we fix it?” The first question is solution focused and the second is problem focused. It’s not that one is right and the other is wrong. Both are necessary, but one is better.

So how do you know which question has the majority of your attention? The Heath brothers capture it best: “What is the ratio of the time I spend solving problems to the time I spend scaling successes?” Let that question bother you. It just might help you create more bright spots.