Monday 24 February 2014

Thought Picnic: Problem Solving or Providing Solutions

Tyres and travel
Problem-solving can be interesting, you find yourself in the middle of some difficultly and caught in the maelstrom of something not going right that you need to right.
Problems however have a small sphere of choices to tackling the issue. A problem can be a punctured tyre, you fix it by changing the tyre.
You probably cannot stop a problem from happening, but if you had the greater scope of tackling a problem with providing a solution, you might get better tyres, ply a different route than one riddled with nails or sharp objects that could puncture tyres, have the road swept or even travel by other means of transport, by rail, by water or by air.
Time of travel, route and destination being factors and variables of that solution beyond the risk of a flat tyre.
Nailing the problem
Solutions have the latitude of choice because you are free from being tied to a particular problem to looking at all the issues and circumstances that present that type of problem.
Then again, a problem can be a nail that for whatever reason cannot be hammered in properly to complete some furniture. Obviously, you could hit the nail harder, maybe try to prise the nail out and try to hammer in another nail and still end up with the same problem.
If you decided to use joinery you have a solution without the need of nails, you could adopt a flat pack method that uses screws, joinery also does not require nails, maybe mould the furniture piece or forge it.
Beyond the nail, when one is abstracted from the problem, you have the opportunity to think up solutions, you move from immediacy of the particular to the appreciation of the general. You elevate the craft from the bubble of problem solving that a technician is saddled with to providing a solution that an expert is engaged for.
Stirring the solution
Providing a solution allows new thinking, resourceful thinking, allows for new approaches to a thorny issue and gives options to jettison whatever had been done before where things have been stuck in a rut.
It is the difference between fighting the politics of the way things were done before and a new way of doing things and doing those things differently and better. That is the spirit of progress and the joy of engineering solutions.
There are situations where the circumstances require that the presumptions of the resident geek be challenged, they having framed issues in their concept of what they think the problem is.
One can understand the difficulty if that becomes what solutions are being crafted for but it restricts the focus of the solution provider to that perspective resulting in a frustrating conflict of ideas, as a preponderance is being given to a situation over another quite unfairly.
Not on my rope
At which point the debate has to shift radically, let them down easily but not on my rope, one is here to provide solutions not solve problems, it can personal and one is presented with feeding the egos of geniuses who should be seriously preoccupied with something else.
Now, how do you present this in a meeting? Wisdom and tact with English reserve does not seem to be hitting the nail on the head of this conundrum, yet if we must pass the test of reasonableness, it must not be centred on solving the problem but on providing a solution. I have to get this across, assertively, aggressively and conclusively.

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