(If you have not read it, the previous post is the introduction to this series.)
When someone does not know a solution to a problem, I’ve observed that his first instinct (and usually his only instinct) is to attack the problem. He will either attack the symptoms of a problem or he will attack the problem directly. This is as effective as attacking darkness.
I believe the first thing to understand as we create a new science of problem solving is: you cannot solve a problem by attacking it or by attacking its symptoms. Attacking a problem wastes time, energy and resources and solves nothing.
If we are having a problem where we already know the solution, we may think we are attacking the problem when we apply the solution. However, there is a vital distinction between attacking a problem and applying a solution.
For example, we all know that the solution to hunger is food. When we are hungry, we eat and the problem disappears. But let’s just say that we didn’t know that food was the solution and we felt hungry, the first tendency would be to attack the symptoms of the hunger – the stomach ache, the headache, the low energy, and the grouchy mood. If you mentioned those symptoms to a doctor who also did not know the cure was food, then he may even prescribe a regime of pills aimed at removing the symptoms. The symptoms could be made to go away but the patient would eventually starve to death. Removing symptoms should not be equated with solving a problem.
So once again, attacking a problem and/or attacking the symptoms of a problem are almost always ineffective answers. Yet this is how most problems are dealt with on an individual level, an institutional level, and a governmental level. (I'll go deeper in future posts. Right now I am just preparing the ground.)
On my next post, I will discuss how and how not to look at a problem to make finding a solution easier.