In any event, I've noticed that more and more people are uncomfortable calling a problem a problem. The oh-so-cloying phrase "oh, it's not a problem, it's an opportunity" has reached epidemic proportions -- and is more virulent, I suspect, than H1N1.
In the dark and distance past, someone wisely said that you'll get further solving a problem when you see it as an opportunity for growth. And I totally agree with that. Problems are the reasons we break paradigms, stretch out of our comfort zones, and leap to new levels of execution. YAY for problems.
But, over time, the wisdom of that simple reframing advice has given way to a politically correct vocabulary where people avoid even uttering the word "problem."
The original idea was not about giving lip-service to a word that lowers our blood pressure and helps us to hide from the powers-that-be. No, the original ideas was really was meant to change our way of thinking and acting, not just our groupspeak. In other words: It's not JUST a problem; it's ALSO an opportunity.
The reason this matters is that those who prefer the "vocabulary substitution" approach cannot even answer the question at the heart of any business relationship: What is the client's problem?
If that question quickens your breath, gives you hives and you find you cannot even label a flipchart with the heading "problem"...then it might be time to re-think your approach.
Your clients have problems. Period. If they didn't, they would not need you.
They don't wake up in the middle of the night and celebrate their opportunities.
They don't lose concentration in the middle of a tennis match because they received a text with an exciting opportunity.
They don't step out of weddings, funerals, and 7th grade band concerts because an opportunity just can't wait.
Nope. They have problems.
And if you can understand and help them define the problems, then and only then, Virginia, you've arrived at an opportunity.