Level One: Identifying the leak. Anyone can spot the problem. It doesn’t take a ton of brainpower or experience to be able to say “look the roof is leaking.” That’s the easy part. And, at most companies, it’s what everyone speaks up about. It’s what people vent about. “The process is broken.” But for most people in most organizations, the conversation stops there.
Level Two: Stopping the leak. Few people want to or have the capability to go stop the leak because they are otherwise occupied by what they were hired to do. Stopping the leak, after all, takes them away from their actual work. But someone has to do it. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
Level Three: Fixing the leak. And by “fixing” I mean proposing a viable solution that ensures the leaky roof gets fixed then executing on that idea to guarantee it doesn’t leak again. Level three workers build systems. They aren’t just planners, but also doers.
It takes time and experience to get to Level Three. But they represent an organization’s most valuable assets. Which is why they usually have the highest titles and are the most paid. Which is also why it serves you nothing to just gripe about inefficiencies. Practice taking it a step or two further. Think about the problem as part of the whole system. Then begin to build solutions around what you are seeing. With practice and time, you’ll get better at solving real problems rather than just watching things crumble in front of you. In so doing, you’ll slowly become more and more irreplaceable.