May 06 2014

I was recently engaged (at least for a little while) in a discussion regarding a specific type of problem & how it requires a specific approach to solving. I absolutely agree that all problems have their own nuances & often  require a unique approach to solve. There is no one size fits all problems solving “tool”, just like there is no one size fits all hammer, spanner, screwdriver etc… The principles of solving problems remains the same, understand/clarify the problem, dig deep to understand what caused it, remove the source/cause, not the symptom.

The way we get there may differ from problem to problem, from organisation to organisation. I find it interesting how many approaches there are, how many different formats, templates, techniques are used from one organisation to the next. The discussion I was in presented 2 core problems to me; We seem to need to label & organise everything, even our problems & we still have a majority (or seeming majority) of people & organisations who think that their approach, their tool, their way of doing it is the only way.

Let’s take the first issue, labelling & organising everything – Just like we do with people, by race, political affiliation, sexuality, musical preferences, etc… we like things to fit into specific categories. I suppose it makes things easier for us to understand, by categorising & labelling within our predefined paradigm of how things are. But what does this do to our ability to openly view & explore the possibilities? It limits us, gives us tunnel vision, it’s closed minded thinking. The last thing we need when trying to solve a problem.

As far as the right tool or technique? Just as a craftsman wouldn’t swear by a single hammer to do all jobs or the only spanner he/she ever uses, different problems require different approaches, different tools. Of course there are some generic methods which can be used for a large selection of problems but it is the craftsman who knows how to use the tools & how to select the right one for the job who is the most successful.

Don’t get hung up on labelling, it will close your mind to possibilities. Don’t get stuck in 1 paradigm with 1 tool or technique to solve your problems. Be open to different approaches depending on the situation, the circumstances at hand. As Abraham Maslow said, “if all I have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.


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