Thursday, July 22, 2021

Ignorance In Problem-Solving

Great problem-solvers across the boundaries need to balance the optimistic spirit and cautious attitude; openness and standardization; discipline and flexibility; effectiveness and efficiency.

Fundamentally every work is the problem-solving continuum. Any problem is the right problem if there is an attempt to find a solution for making progressive changes. It becomes about addressing the correct need and perhaps the problem becomes how to identify the need at the right level. Good problem-solvers take a proven approach to fix the issue efficiently; great problem-solvers dig through the root and take care of a series of issues effectively; wise problem-solving masters can prevent or dissolve the problem effortlessly.

 In reality though, people suffer from problem-solving inertia or fatigue. When you get stuck, solve the wrong problems, perhaps you become a part of the problem. We all develop reputations for being a problem creator, problem definer, or problem solver. Do you ignore some crucial problems? Why? Can you transform from a problem-generator to a real problem-solver?

We ignore the problems around us because we can't figure out the exact cause and effect so the solutions are vague, variable or unknown: In many circumstances, people fix the issues, but the symptoms continue to get back, so they stop the effort. But their ignorance perhaps becomes the pain and causes more serious issues later on either individually or at the organizational setting. Trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem will waste time and resources, increase anxiety and reward mediocrity. Sometimes, people are too rushed-up and they jump to the “how” but the circumstance has already changed, the “old way” to deal with the situation no longer works anymore. Effective problem-solving is about seeing a problem and actually finding a solution to that problem, rather than taking a band-aid approach to fix the symptom only.

We live in a dynamic environment with information exponentiality and unprecedented uncertainty. A solution is vague or temporary if the problem is not perceived comprehensively. Until the underlying problem is addressed, the symptom or result will continue to return. Problem-solving includes both framing the right problem and solving it in the right way. If using cause and effect logic to help distinguish between symptom and cause when evaluating activities within a system, you are able to draw from the results both the outcomes and causes of the system. Perhaps you know that there are more often, very few root causes and similarly a limited number of outcomes that reveal themselves when this work is conducted properly. Keep in mind though, for many of today’s complex issues, it’s not so effective to use linear logic to understand nonlinear cause-effect relationship scenarios. The predictive “cause and effect” in system dynamics can include nonlinear cause and effect models, and develop nonlinear business problem-solving scenarios.

We ignore the problems because they are so complex and there are more problems behind it, there are chains of problems which are intimidating: When a problem occurs, it is an unintended consequence of the design or mismanagement. Behind every problem is a relationship dynamic out of alignment. Assume that every problem has multiple solutions and takes the time to look at every situation from multiple points of view. The more complex the situation is, the more possible that you need to analyze the problems by breaking down the large issue into smaller problems without ignoring the interdependence of those pieces, perhaps the more different approaches are needed to reach for understanding. Then during synthesis, it will better go more convergent to really hone in on the "why." Once you figure out what the true problems are and are ready to ideate that needs to be divergent thinking for solving them innovatively.

Technically it’s true, that means there are more problems behind a problem and it’s important to apply logic to uncover patterns and understand the interconnectivity underneath the surface. Cognitively, human thought is characterized by expansion in multiple directions, rather than in one direction, and based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which one can apply logic to problem-solving. To avoid being overwhelmed by the complexity of issues and overcome problem-solving fatigue, start listening, collect qualified information, embrace multiple perspectives of the issues, and build a strong team with unique competency for taking care of chains of problems in a stepwise manner. Interdisciplinary knowledge for discovery and problem identification should lead us not only to understand, but also identify and solve many problems that are seemingly intimidating, but actually reasonable and effortless if taking a holistic problem-solving approach.

Crucial problems get ignored because people lack of prioritization skills to handle strategic concerns and tactical issues effectively by taking a balanced approach: Many times, problem-solving ignorance or fatigue are caused by a silo mentality - our problems are more urgent than theirs; egotistic - we don’t have problems; or short-term driven - we are busy on more urgent issues, etc. In the organizational scope, leadership is crucial for engaging a continuous dialogue by asking the right questions and setting priority: What problem or event is driving the need for the long term and short term perspective? What immediacy does this problem or event have and why does it need to be addressed now? What are the key drivers behind initiatives? What impact are these problems currently having? Can the impact of these problems be measured and quantified and if so what is the quantum of the problems, etc.

We all have to walk in the shoes and see the problem or situation from the others’ point of view. An insightful outlook helps to gain an in-depth understanding of cause and effect based on the identification of relationships and behaviors within a model, context, and structure. Silos result in overlapping functions, increased costs, duplicated efforts and inconsistent decisions among entities, and further causing ineffective problem-solving. Organizations need to assign their resources and time carefully and solve problems that really matter. They don’t set priorities in a vacuum. A good leader is someone who doesn't lose sight of the long-term or 'big picture'; derive a viable problem-solving framework for setting principles, prioritizing, sharing methods and practices, and solving problems in a structural way.

Great problem-solvers across the boundaries need to balance the optimistic spirit and cautious attitude; openness and standardization; discipline and flexibility; effectiveness and efficiency in order to close the problem-solving capability gap with contextual understanding and systematic approach, to improve the overall problem-solving competency.


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