Monday, November 27, 2017

Tailor Solutions to the Real Problem

Either running a successful business or living a progressive life is a problem-solving continuum.

People have to deal with large or small problems on the daily basis. Especially at today’s “VUCA” digital dynamic, problems have become over-complex and interdependent. Can you diagnose the real problem? Does every problem have solutions? What is the best way to handle a problem? How can you tailor the best solution to the real problem?





Never assume you know what the problem is: The logical scenario to diagnose the problem include: Identify the problem, what is exactly wrong, out of balance, unjust, etc, leverage Systems Thinking to diagnose the root cause of problems, and understand the interconnected relationship between different problems, as well as potential solutions. Context aids us in understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. Often times, people have a tendency to try to fix a symptom which results from the actual cause of the problem. When they do this, they throw good money after bad, they allow problems to grow under the surface until it’s too late. Because the symptom will continue to return until the underlying problem is addressed. Thus, “seeing” the context you are part of, allows you to understand the problem with context, identify the leverage points of the systems and then choose the decisive factors, in an attempt to make the first step RIGHT- understanding the real problem before jumping into how to solve it.


Never think there is a short list of solutions you can pick from: With a greater understanding of the problems, the trick is to increase the influence and be part of the solutions. And there is no need to look at it in a reactive mode as a ‘problem,’ but it would be desirable to look at it proactively and have a ‘policy’ to solve it with FLEXIBILITY. It means that never think there is a short list of solutions you can pick from, and always be open to solving the problem in an alternative or better way. A solution should match a problem and with that in mind, the one thing change would be to have a phrase at the heart of everything the organization does. It’s important to leverage different thought processes to solve problems systemically or analytically or both. Look at the problem from as many perspectives as possible, leverage systems thinking to generate a variety of options for dealing with problems elegantly and solve them radically with less side-effect. A systems thinker solves each unforeseen problem as it arises. Solutions are made from a much broader and encompassing view that is not possible in linear thinking.


Test every assumption: Every situation has choices, every situation has known unknown and unknown unknowns, the only way we get to understand these is by not giving up and applying the higher level of thinking that we used to handle problems mindfully. Test every assumption if possible. Encourage learning but also be practical.  If we try to impose solutions or structures that are too far ahead of the curve, the result is alienation and rebellion rather than problem-solving. Using Systems Thinking now could possibly highlight these inter-communication and planning shortcomings so those involved can focus on relationships between things rather than characteristics of things, understand the outcomes of various relationships/actions in order to figure out the best-tailored solutions. Systems Thinking, coupled with design thinking, allows us to not only see systemic dynamics and relationships, but also how to step out of or beyond them, to see things differently, and therefore, have better opportunity to solve problems or improve situations creatively.


The problem-solving logic is just so simple - diagnose the real problem and solve it in the right way. However, the problem-solving thought process and practices will not be simple for many of today’s complex issues or vexing problems. Some problems can often appear to be unsolvable. It evolves both detail and the big picture, tolerates uncertainty, breaks down large problems to the smaller pieces, understands the interdependence of seemly separate problems, and comes out tailored solutions to the real problem ultimately.

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