Scandalous Solutions

I started watching Scandal on Netflix last year. Yes, I was late to the game on this one. I can’t stop. It’s so good, so scandalously good for my solution-focused soul.

If you don’t watch the show, the main character, Olivia Pope (played by the stunning Kerry Washington), is the ex-campaign manager of the President of the United States, who now runs her company, Olivia Pope and Associates (OPA). Oh, Olivia Pope, you well-dressed, well-spoken, hired fixer-of-all-problems, you are my spirit animal.

Ok – so what does my girl crush on Olivia Pope have to do with you? Um, EVERYTHING! On Scandal, people with all sorts of issues hire OPA to “fix” their problems.

The attributes people look for when they hire a problem solver. Confident. Powerful. Precise. Polished. Get Sh*t Done. That is Olivia Pope. You can be Olivia Pope.

 How to become the “fixer” everyone wants to work with:

1 Listen. Hear them out. Let them puke out the problem all over you. Listen with the intent to understand the problem in its entirety. Most people will want to offer immediately up advice. Not a fixer, a fixer knows listening to hear truly what the client is saying (and not saying) is how you “handle” anything.

2 Understand the desired outcome. This is major! It’s not about the outcome you believe is correct or right; it’s about what the client wants to happen. An expert fixer will understand what the client sees as an ideal resolution. With expectations and a desired outcome set upfront, it allows the fixer to have a clear vision of where they need to go to be successful in the eyes of their client. Happy clients, happy bank account.

3 Identify the unique solution. Once you understand the surface-level problem, you can ask clarifying questions to get to the root and bottom line. Every problem has multiple layers, did you just think of the onion analogy from Shrek!?, and a fixer will look to understand each layer by asking great questions to uncover major areas of opportunity. More importantly, a fixer will identify solutions others would ignore. They are not afraid to be outside the box or take the road less traveled. They take risks, sometimes risqué, and don’t apologize for their approach.

4 Create a plan. After you know the solution and desired outcome, you need to devise a plan of attack. Which action items need immediate attention? Tackle them first. The most effective plans include continued investigating and exploring so as you attempt to fix, you’ll have the most current and correct information and be able to shift your plan accordingly. A fixer knows a perfect plan is a flexible one.

5 Delegate. A dirty word to any Type-A perfectionist personality but a true fixer has a team to back them up AND empower each person to “just do it”. Pope’s team is comprised of individuals, whom each has a very specific expertise. They each know what value they bring to the team and don’t stray outside of their expert area, YET they work phenomenally well together. It shows what smart people are tackling a common objective should look like. It’s beautiful, a leaders dream.

6 Execute. A fixer doesn’t stop once the solution identifies or when a plan is mapped out or even after they delegate, they stop when the problem is corrected. They execute their plan until they accomplish the desired result. They work in harmony with their team and lead them and the client to victory.

When you follow the steps outlined above any problem can be tackled like an expert. Elevating yourself to an expert status will open more doors and opportunities for you. Your reputation will grow, and people will seek you to work with you. The best skill you can add to your repertoire is a “fixer.” Seriously, learn to fix or people will forget…about you.

Stephanie Melish
About the author: 

Stephanie Melish is the Chief Executive Officer @ Stephanie Melish, where she is an inspirational speaker, career coach and writer.  Follow her on Twitter.