The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Solving problems

The main problem with problems is not solving them, it is identifying the problem.

Basically what happens, is that once we’ve learned how to solve a problem we are looking for ways to reapply that solution. It’s building on existing experience and seeking to repeat it and makes the problems we are able to solve more attractive than others. Even more so as the ability to solve problems feeds the desire to provide a solution.

Focusing on the problems which can be solved makes other problems invisible.

It’s a shortcut that helps to avoid encountering a problem that might not be solvable immediately.

The easiest shortcut even goes the other way round. It’s the cognitive bias of having an instrument and using it for any problem that appears. It’s what Charlie Munger described as the man with the hammer syndrome in his “Psychology of Human Misjudgment”. To a man with a hammer, every problem resembles a nail.

It takes time and the ability to step back to visit the context of the immediately visible problem and distinguish between symptoms, root causes, and real problems.

It requires the humbleness to create space for other solutions than one’s own.


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