Problems drive the success of solutions
I am addicted to problems and many of my friends, colleagues, and co-workers do not understand why!
When working as a System Administration Consultant for a small IT Service Provider here in Switzerland I was told by my former colleagues to never mention problems to clients.
Ok, I took the advice and I didn’t, but I think, this is a naive idea, so let me explain, WHY!
I had made this experience also when I was a Management Support to General Management at a Private Bank. Most managers were not willing to listen to the problems I have seen and addressed.
During the financial crisis, I had the chance to sit in meetings with the leaders on 2 different top levels of management. I was a young guy then and I can understand, they didn’t want to listen to my advice, but I had figured out more or less, what was happening and frankly, they would have saved some millions for the bank if they would have taken my advice and moved faster into the right direction.
If you are not willing to look into the farest corner for a problem, at the end you will most likely FAIL!
I do not claim to be like the guy in “The Big Short” who have seen it all coming and speculated against the entire market, but I sense, when shit hits the fan and now, years later with more experience and in-depth insight I bring this issue down to my addiction to problems for establishing a working solution.
There are people, they just see problems and they get blocked and desperate without finding a solution. Don’t confuse me in this aspect. Even if I face the problems I am always willing to take action according to what I analyze as the path with the lowest risk attached. This makes me aware of the risks involved so I can handle it and present solutions.
During the last years, I was obliged to work on stuff, where there IS NO WORKING SOLUTION and I proved it in-depth. I tried to trigger a learning effect, visualizing the consequences …
Avoiding to face problems most likely leads to fatal consequences!
If you throw a piece of wood into a river, the wood has no idea about the challenges it will face during its journey. The wood might fall down a waterfall, it might get stuck in some place or it might end up in the dead sea …
On a macro view, we have no clue about the way of a project, our life and the world in its entirety!
In a micro view, we have been given a brain so we can think. If we cross the street, we know we might die if we throw ourselves in front of a car and we are able to judge the problem in seconds.
In many cases in the real life we face complex situations with many problems and subproblems, so we have to prioritize and organize for relevance.
Mankind built a complex system and it is getting really complex on different levels!
So I do not agree with those who think, that you should be able to explain a certain problem in short words and provide a simple and understandable solution.
This is what naive populist politicians do!
They explain complex situations with easy words and guess what: Ordinary people understand and resonate.
Unfortunately things most of the time don’t work out the easy way!
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Agile project development
Some years ago, a new approach was developed in software programming called AGILE.
The SCRUM Method proposes to break big tasks down into smaller junks and treat each junk separately in the development cycle to present working junks, making them real and available for review sooner in the process.
This approach can solve the issue of working on a big solution and finding out at the end, that it just does not work due to a problem that was overseen. BUT it is no guarantee of a working solution.
Problems still have to be seen by the visionaries and by the project lead!
(In SCRUM Slang these are the Scrum Master and the Scrum Owner)
What can you do to handle tasks and its connected problems
I recommend writing down the different problems in detail and prioritize for relevance. Get into different macro and micro levels of the task you need to handle and think through all implications you can find.
This would be the part of the SCRUM OWNER together with the SCRUM MASTER.
First tackle the problems with the deepest impact
They decide if a project or task can be accomplished or if it will fail!
Don’t just ride the wave of working on the tasks you like the most and are easy to get results. These results might be a trap, as they might not work together with other parts of the system, product or dream you are creating.
Working solutions are the outcome of awareness of problems!
Our world in the process of the digitalization is stuffed with problems to solve!
Without knowledge about the possibilities in a digital world:
• you can not see the problems
• you do not get an idea of the reality
• you will wake up one day and find out THE WORLD HAS CHANGED
I recommend to learn the basics with SFM/DEA and shift your mind into this new area we are in.
Remember, old concepts will die!
I hope this was helpful and if you have different experiences or suggest a different approach, please feel free to comment and open up the discussion!