Eight Alerts Help Us Anticipate Problems

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

People tend to solve problems within the constraints of their strengths and preferences, thus IT professionals are likely to see IT solutions, sales professionals sales solutions and so forth. This happens with whole teams, whole business cultures. Analytical cultures will likely require more analysis, extrinsic cultures more extrinsic rewards. While such constraints aren’t necessarily bad…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #1): Easy over Difficult

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

When problems occur or when trying to anticipate them in problem solving, I look for seven alerts. While no single one automatically creates a problem, two or three get me there. The first alert is when I find people tending to do the easy over the difficult. “You only get out what you put in,”…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #2): Immediate over Enduring

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

When problems occur or when trying to anticipate them in problem solving, I look for seven alerts. While no single one automatically creates a problem, two or three put me on alert. The second alert occurs when the immediate prevails over the enduring. For instance, painting over a surface with five layers of cracked paint…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #3): Majority over Minority

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

When problems occur or when trying to anticipate them, the third alert I heed is when the majority prevails over the minority. People prefer to be in the majority over minority. Decision-making simply by adopting the majority or consensual view increases the likelihood for problems because problems care less what the majority says. They are…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #4): Known over Unknown

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

The fourth alert I heed as a warning problems might occur is when the known prevails over the unknown. I first experienced this when a board president said, “We cannot deal with problems that we are unaware of,” totally discounting prevention. For instance, I might not know I have a termite problem, but that doesn’t…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #5): Big over Small

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

Focusing on the big rather than small, is another alert I heed as a problem identifier. This occurs when people apply overarching solutions rather than surgically specific ones, declaring the forest a problem rather than specific trees. Even though focusing on the forest is often easier, it differs from the Easy-Difficult Alert in that much…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #6): Same over Unique

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

Creativity is challenging especially with time pressures. Additionally, depending upon the work culture, motivation might be difficult. Heck, how many times do we hear, “Don’t reinvent the wheel?” That’s when we revert to doing the same thing we or someone else did, such as a best practice. When doing the same trumps doing something unique,…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #7): One over Many

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

Given many causes of a problem, humans tend to focus on one as the cause rather than the pattern they produce, a form of anchoring. Scapegoats are good examples: blaming one is easier for our minds to grasp than blaming a group. When solutions overweight the one rather than the many, I’m alerted for potentially…

Read More

Why Problems Occur (Alert #8): Demarcation over Gradient

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Why Problems Occur

We run into problems when we forget that truth is often unclear. We prefer sharp demarcations in defining our problems to the fuzzy gradients that truly exist. While it’s important to define the problem, we extract the real value when we attack those definitions. In this way, we begin to look at the problem integratively…

Read More