February 10, 2014

The Problem with Solving Problems

solvingproblems resized 600There is nothing wrong with solving problems! When the supply room catches on fire, you want to put it out quickly and effectively. Forget the organization chart, whoever is closest to the extinguisher, grab it! Problem solved, and then life moves on.

But when the supply room keeps on catching fire day after day, your best response might be to change something more fundamental than replenishing the extinguisher and reducing the response time needed to activate it. A better world would be one in which fires don’t happen so frequently, if at all.

If the goal is to solve a problem, then the “problem” has been given tremendous power. The “problem” (however we construe it) organizes our efforts to “solve” it. And so the problems we face become the generative force in organizing our relationships and organizations, not our highest hopes or deepest values. In addition, the problem creates the criteria by which we will recognize “solutions.”

Subsequently, we can become de-sensitized to all of the other things in our environment that are “not-solutions” but which may well be of great value. We might say that every “solution” to every problem has “collateral damage” – as everyone knows who has had to clean up a sodden store room after the fire has been extinguished.

In one way of putting it, problems are holes in the ground and their solutions fill those holes, but when they are solved, we’re just back at level ground. Nothing has been gained, just put back where it was. Until next time…

You can read more about “the problem with solving problems” here. If you are ready to tackle the root-cause issues of your learning and performance challenges, start your discovery session now!

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