4 Ways to Solve a Problem

An apocryphal story:

A man you know is hungry.

There are 4 ways you could solve his problem:

  1. Slap him about a bit. This will take his mind of it.  Hunger gone, problem solved.
  2. Give him a fish to eat.  Hunger gone, problem solved.
  3. Give him a fishing rod and show them how to fish.  Hunger gone, problem solved.
  4. Develop a first-world infrastructure with trawlers, freezers, distribution centres, corner stores and fish fingers.  Hunger gone, problem solved.

I’d love to claim credit for this line of thinking

But it came from a gentleman called Russell Ackoff. He called the 4 methods

  • Absolve
  • Resolve
  • Solve
  • Dissolve

His point was that the further you take your problem solving, the more likely you will make the problem go away for ever.

There is an extra twist:

Absolving and Resolving don’t count as solving the problem. I’m sure you would agree.

Solving, though valid, involves current knowledge.  If there is a known solution you shouldn’t have to waste your time on it.

As a manager — a paid problem solver — only Dissolving problems is a worthwhile use of your time.

How did you spend your time today?

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of James Lawther – View the original post

Published On: 10th Jun 2016 - Last modified: 5th Mar 2019
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