It seems like common sense. Stating a problem well… and correctly… can have an enormous impact on the solutions pursued and their level of success. If the problem isn’t defined accurately, the proposed solutions might be appropriate for the definition… but not for the actual problem. Any given solution might be executed well and perhaps even have the desired results… but will fail to solve the original problem. Time, money, effort expended but no REAL solution to the problem. Resources wasted.
All of the above assumes there IS a problem in the first place, of course. But let’s leave that for another day.
Here’s an example:
The terrible disease named AIDS came on the scene 25 years ago. The threat of a global heterosexual pandemic was widely feared. Significant effort went into solving THIS problem. It turns out that AIDS is not such a threat to everyone after all. While it is still an actual problem (it kills more adults than all wars and conflicts combined), it is primarily a threat only to certain high risks groups and locales.
The article cited above states:
Aids organisations, including the WHO, UN Aids and the Global Fund, have come under attack for inflating estimates of the number of people infected, diverting funds from other health needs such as malaria, spending it on the wrong measures such as abstinence programmes rather than condoms, and failing to build up health systems.
It turns out that money spent trying to prevent heterosexual AIDS would have been better spent targeting homosexual AIDS, money spent trying to solve the problem in lower risk countries would have been far better spent in high risk countries, and money spent trying to educate people would have been better spent giving them the physical means to prevent the spread of disease.
How often does this happen? I’m betting it occurs more frequently than we’d like to know. We wastefully chase the wrong problem or the wrong solution.
Take our energy crisis, for example. Are we diverting funds from potential real solutions by subsidizing ethanol production? Are we spending money preventing domestic oil production or facilitating it? Are we failing to establish a cohesive, realistic energy policy for our nation?
Take global warming. Is this a real problem? Is it man-made? Even if it’s not man-made and IS a real problem, can it realistically be solved?
All too often, people and politicians gather behind the WRONG DEFINITION of a problem. Maybe it sounds better politically to state it in a particular way. Maybe it makes some people feel better if it is worded another way. No matter why, it is a huge mistake to misstate a problem.
NOW is the time for all of us to be brave enough to face our problems stated in a straight-forward, honest, accurate way. Then, we must find the courage and conviction to implement true solutions to those problems. Only when this is accomplished do we even have a chance of solving them.