The problem with problems

The problem with problems is that the more I look at them so that I can work out where to find the best solutions they seem morph into something else. But as I put my best tools into practice I’m not sure this is such a bad thing!

That downward spiral – Maybe I’m getting a bit obsessed with this.  I’ve just spent two days teaching problem solving skills.  I can see what is happening – that downward spiral that we talked about.  This problem thing is taking up all my thinking at the moment, I’m feeling confused by it all and what is worse is I’m not even sure what I’m confused about!

Root causes – We’ve drawn lot of problem trees this week and learned how to look at things from different perspectives. Why would we spend all this time breaking ‘problems’ down into root causes on one side and then the consequences, effects or the symptoms on the other?  Well because the theory says that the best solutions are found somewhere in the causes.

It all seems so straight forward but this is where I’ve come unstuck. Is my confusion really the problem? No. I move it to the symptom side of the tree; then I move it to the causes side and then back to symptoms.  In the process I replace ‘the problem’ with other potential problems!

Out of confusion comes clarity! I’m not sure what happened but there came a point where this confusion thing didn’t seem to be a problem anymore.  Maybe it never was a problem, it just felt like one! But along the way I’ve had lots of new ideas and thoughts about how else I could share these tools.  Somehow a sense of clarity and calm had arrived.  “Problem” solved!

The benefit of all the tools we read about and use in coaching isn’t to be found in doing them “right” in order to get to a “right” answer or outcome.  The true value lies in actually going through the process – the reflection, information gathering, the reassessment of the situation, all the options for action all this creates and then in actually doing something different.  Next time you’re stuck try it and see what happens.  Maybe solutions are a journey not a destination!