Kintsugi and the Art of Solving Issues

Have you heard of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold? It’s built on the idea that embracing flaws and imperfections creates even stronger, more beautiful pieces of art. As an EOS Implementer®, I found a striking similarity between Kintsugi and the art of solving issues.

Wabi-Sabi of Business

Kintsugi is linked to wabi-sabi, a philosophy that accepts imperfections and transience while appreciating the beauty and simplicity of nature. This brings us to one of the Six Key Components™ of running a successful business: the Issues Component®.

Issues remind us of those very same things: that everything changes and nothing is perfect. Issues arise, and we must solve them. Things just happen that way in nature. But if we can work through our Issues in the right way, we come out stronger on the other side. We have to remind ourselves that by solving Issues, we also put broken pieces together to create something more beautiful.

The Art of Solving Issues

Recently, a client of mine said something quite powerful: “We haven’t been engaged in solving issues.”

I asked him to elaborate. He said, “We’ve just gone through the motions, trying to get through as many as possible. But we don’t really dig into the root cause of the issues.”

EOS® teaches IDS® (Identify, Discuss, and Solve) as part of The Issues Solving Track™. It helps make sure problems truly go away forever by solving them at their root.

Getting to the root cause is the key to this discipline. Because when you identify the true root cause and solve it, you’ve created art. Just like the art of Kintsugi, rebuilding pottery from its broken pieces, you’ve built a stronger, more beautiful business.

High-performing teams do this well. Through consistent practice, they’re able to go on to tackle bigger, better, deeper Issues. Average and below-average teams don’t. They bring up the same issues over and over, treating the same symptoms and rearranging the same broken pieces. But they never create anything new.

Every Art Form Takes Work

I encouraged my client to give it another try, and sure enough, they hit pay dirt. After a few minutes of open and honest discussion, the leadership team landed on the root cause of the issue.

The owners made a decision that had the leadership team questioning their long-term commitment to the company. It held the team back from making some other important decisions. Thankfully, through open and honest discussion, they quickly solved the issue by clearing the air.

The owners reconfirmed their commitment, and the team regrouped and bonded over a renewed and shared energy. The solution they discovered created a stronger, more durable, and more beautiful company because it carried the history of imperfection.

Getting Stronger

We all have issues, cracks in our relationships, shortfalls in our communication, and dysfunctions in our teams. None of us is perfect, and the companies we run reflect that. We all have our broken pieces of pottery.

And just like in Kintsugi, instead of discarding the pieces, we must work hard to create something better than before. When we truly solve issues at their root, we create a new piece of artwork from the broken remnants of what came before.

The opportunities we generate through adversity create a more sustainable way forward for our companies, our teams, and ourselves.

How strong is your company?

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