The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Where is that problem?

When people name a problem it usually is simply to get rid of it. It’s not important what it is about, it’s a disturbance so the point becomes to better find a solution as quickly as possible.

Sometimes this reminds us of a child who feels pain and just wants to get rid of it.

It’s worth it to take some time to sit with that problem.

The way we’ll address problems will differ depending on where the problem is located.

Think about transition or evolution. It is a change from one system to another. Sometimes it is a change process you’ve initiated, like learning a new skill or transforming an organization to a desired state. Sometimes it is a change of the context we live in.

There are four possible locations for problems.

It can be linked to the current framework or structure we are using or living in. Take for example a missing cable if you want to connect something, or take a process that has a flaw.

It can be part of the transformation the system is going through itself, it’s the way a system is forming, configuring, locking in, decaying of structures. That’s for example the case when knowledge about the system starts to disappear for example because those who created it move away. It can also be the slow change of an infrastructure that becomes less and less reliable leading to people inventing ways to go around that transformation.

The third option is that the problem is part of the old system, the one we decided to change, and that will be resolved by the new system. It’s a problem that can appear in transformation or that is present but will be solved once the new system is there. If you are learning a new skill you’ll typically experience a lot of problems during the learning, but they all belong to the process and will be solved as you continue to learn. Or it can be a process that you’ll make superfluous by establishing a new process.

The fourth possibility is that the problem is showing us the transition from one system to another. It is a problem that is showing us that the future will be different and will need solutions we had imagined before. Crisis like the current pandemic tend to show us this type of problem. They invite us to reinvent the future.


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