- assume a steady state of zero problems
- imply that problems are abnormal and the responsibility of the people working with them
- discourage people by not meeting the zero problem ideal
The complex, interconnected world in which we live and work in is dynamic, and so are the problems that naturally occur in them. These problems cannot be easily isolated and solved individually. In the process of "fixing" the problem, you could easily be making the system performance worse.
If we want to leave behind these side effects, how could we view problems differently?
Instead of mapping out a course from today's problems to tomorrow's absence of problems, what if we managed our journey from problem to problem?
By realistically accepting problems, we can deal with them here and now instead of striving for an unrealistic ideal of zero problems.
Here's an example of how that might work.
Matt is an engineer out of work. Using traditional problem solving thinking, you might say that the problem is "Matt is unemployed" and the solution is for "Matt to get a job".
Pretty straightforward. Matt knows what he needs to do. In order to correct his deficiency, Matt will likely rush to accept the first offer he gets, even if that's not in his best long term interest.
Now let's change Matt's perspective a bit. We can start with the same assessment that "Matt is unemployed" is the current problem. But, looking ahead, let's select a future problem for Matt. Let's try "Matt has trouble decided which job offer to take". Notice how that changes things. Now Matt isn't just looking for the first person to hire him, he's looking to improve his resume, networking, self-promotion to the point he can't be ignored. By doing this, he will likely surpass the results he would get from the first example. Also, he acknowledges that correcting the initial problem doesn't leave a "problem void", but rather that there will be new problems to face.
What do you think? Is the traditional view of problems and solving them adequate for the 21st century or do we need an updated way of looking at them? Does the idea I presented open new possibilities or make it more confusing to take action? Let me know your thoughts.