Sunday, September 14, 2008

Problem Solving won't help with Dilemmas

In the Preface to Get There Early - by Bob Johansen from the Institute For The Future - he talks about the origins of his book, that the book started from pain. He talks about how leaders of organizations today are at a loss of how to respond to the challenges that are coming faster and faster.

He goes on... " The challenges look like problems at first, but they don't go away. The challenges seem to be getting messier even as solutions become more elusive. For today's leaders, it seems as though solvable problems are morphing into no-win dilemmas before their eyes. Most of today's leaders, of course, were trained to problem-solve. They see problems everywhere, but they have trouble recognizing dilemmas - even when they see one up close. Dilemmas are problems that cannot be solved, problems that won't go away. Leaders need practical ways to make sense out of complexity when problem solving isn't enough."

I thought YES! Our old worldviews, assumptions, and solutions aren't working any more. Defining everything as problems and applying "solutions" which actually make the problems worse - is digging us deeper into entrenched automatic behavior that doesn't produce the results we want. There are so many other ways of looking at things when we STOP defining everything as a problem and apply "problem solving." Polarity ManagementTM - gives us a language and framework for seemingly opposing forces, complexity science give us more language and frameworks, and Asset Based Thinking teaches us how we can shift our focus on what is working and what we have to create the results we most want to see.

This naming of dilemmas, is another way to free ourselves from old narrow habits of thinking and responding. A dilemma can't be solved by "problem solving." Luckily we have a whole new toolkit that is available when we switch the paradigms we are viewing the world through.

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