Thursday, October 20, 2016

Problem Definition, root causes, solutions, tradeoffs and differential beneficiaries

An excellent observation.

I used to do a lot of Problem Solving and TQM work in the late 1980s through the 1990s with corporate and operational teams. All teams always wanted to start with their defined solution and go straight to implementation planning. Getting them to back-up was always hard as the facilitator. They knew the answer, they just needed to implement. Almost invariably though, once you got them to identify the problem, it would emerge that they were each defining the problem differently, defining success differently, etc. Getting them to define and measure always led to a different diagnosis of what the real root problems were and therefore what appropriate solutions might be.

I would go even further than Knowledge Problem. It is true that solutions are tradeoffs. But there is more than that.

Different solutions (which might be equally effective), have different tradeoffs. And every tradeoff has differentially advantaged groups. Define the problem and you set parameters on the solutions. Select the solution and you define the tradeoff. The tradeoff defines who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged from the chosen solution.

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