Thought LeadershipAs I was growing up, my Papa would sit me down to discuss reality, philosophies and other aspects of life. He would often pose questions that forced me to think through to a conclusion. As I grew older, the questions he posed grew in complexity and difficulty. Inevitably, there would come a time when I was stumped and took a guess. I, of course, didn’t always guess correctly.

At this crossroads, he didn’t belittle me for an improper answer or give me the correct answer. Instead, Papa would engage in an interactive process that built my ability to solve the evermore complex issues he posed, and those I would inevitably face later in life. His technique was to ask, “How does this scratch the itch?”  The resulting give and take discussions not only lead to a plausible solution, but it also taught me the value of digging deeper and working with others to deliver stronger solutions.

As safety leaders, we are often confronted with situations that are challenging to answer and require real depth to get to the correct solution. I have found it helpful to ask how the initial solution that is posed truly scratches the itch that needs to be addressed and fixed. The resultant thought process and discussions always seem to deliver a better scratch to the itch we need to resolve.

The Doc