Toward A Solution Oriented Culture

By Jackson M. Henry —-

First Hawaiian Bank’s motto is: “The bank that says yes”. It is one of the most catchy marketing phrase and the most people friendly slogan that any bank has come up with. The slogan expresses the core principle the bank operates on, which very much in line with the famous Hawaiian spirit of Aloha. The word “Yes” in the slogan is a powerful attention grabber which has captivated many disgruntled customers from other “No” banks to move their accounts to First Hawaiian Bank.

I was fortunate to have been part of First Hawaiian Bank corporate culture in the early 1990s as a Commercial Loan Officer. The highlights of my career with FHB was the month long orientation I spent at their Honolulu headquarters reviewing mega loan applications with their Loan Committee and meeting the bank’s President, Mr. Walter Dodds. It was an initiation which instilled in me their culture of being “solution focused”, and still is my management style today.

FHB’s culture of being solution oriented has proven to be a “magic” formula. It opened in 1858 with only $4,784.25 in deposit, as the first bank chartered in the state of Hawaii. Today, it has $12 billion in assets and $9 billion in deposits.

As business in Palau becomes more complex and our lives become more dependent on bureaucracies, regulations, machines and computers, so does the level complexities in dealing with solutions. Sometimes, it is important to step back and look at the situation from a higher plain and to search for solutions with the notion that, after all, we are all Palauans working for the good of our people and our country. The forces of good will conquer all and solve our problems. As Congresswoman Magdelene Bordallo once said to her political critics, “Get off the high horse and be part of the solution, not part of the problem”.

To be solution oriented, the first issue to consider is to know your ultimate objective and how success is defined. In many instances, policy makers become too engrossed in regulations and in fine prints that they loose sight of their destination. Hence, “Get the habit of thinking outside the box”, as former Delegate Rebluud Kesolei liked to remind us.

Second is to question yourself if there are more practical options than what is presented on the table. Often times, we experience indecisions and mental blocks because we only see what is before our eyes. If you give a person a hammer, then sometimes all he sees are nails to be hammered down.

Third is to look beyond the matter and find opportunities and financial windfall that can be realized if we try a more conciliatory approach. As small island community, the solutions to our problems lies in compromise and “win-win” settlements, not in, “I am right and all of you are wrong” approach.

Fourth, take creative and innovative approaches in concluding a deal. The human mind can do wonders if we free it from stagnating in the status quo. Be imaginative, for the mind is nature’s most powerful machine.

Lastly, focus on what is right and fair instead of the rules. Rules are only guides. They are neither etched in stones nor brought down from Mount Sinai by brother Moses. Being solution oriented is about seeking moral, fair and pragmatic conclusions, not who is right and who is wrong. It also is futuristic in outlook, not dwelling on the past. It also focuses on the strength and resources of the party.

Humans err but our spirit of cooperation, reconciliation and fairness endures. As we embark on the quest to build ourselves a vibrant economy, invoking our ancient Palauan culture of being solution oriented is the way to go.

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