The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Making problems visible

Seeing a problem is easy.

For many people, a problem starts there where something is happening that they don’t like or didn’t expect.

It’s a problem that they recognize as a problem.

Their next step is to seek to make it visible and validate it with others.

If their chosen approach is to blame or complain, there is a high probability that others will support them and agree that they are experiencing a problem. They have chosen an approach allowing them to seek compassion and be seen as someone experiencing a problem. It made the problem personal, connecting the emotional with the factual.

Most of the time, that’s where the problem will stay. Having shared blame and complain a few times, the “problem” will run out of energy.

But sometimes it continues, it resonates with enough people. It’s what is needed to create a movement and establish protests.

They are necessary for a group to unite around matters and show how important these matters are for the group members.

Protests happen whenever a group feels that what is important to them is not being heard.

Once a protest is under way, people will continue to receive support, one that helps to keep the momentum alive.

But there is an inflection point where to become visible, the problem must be disconnected from its emotional component. It becomes necessary to distinguish the hurt and suffering from the problem causing it.

This is valid for those protesting just as well as those who are in a position in which they can address the problem. It’s only when the problem is visible that it can be acknowledged. It’s a crucial step. If leadership is not able to acknowledge the problem it will only react to what it can see.

Those protesting have the task to find ways to go beyond their experience of the problem and describe the change they seek to make. It is their task to make a request visible that can solve the problem for them.

Leadership has the role to see and acknowledge the suffering as well as the one to address the problem. It’s their task to put the means in place that will allow not only to resolve the problem but also to make visible how it connects with the requests.

By forgetting to address the suffering, the problem, or the request, the problem will persist.


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