The Problem with Problems

When you are working to influence and create positive change with others by solving a problem, I recommend to begin with the simplified problem needing to be solved.  This would include:

  • Start with WHY, not how (remember, we first need to define the specific problem and then determine how we will solve it together)
  • Define the difference to be made when the specific problem is solved; agree on what success look like
  • Then determine how we will all make this difference together as a group

If the problem and the objectives aren’t well defined and agreed upon, you will all end up “solving” very different problems in very different ways, requiring very different processes to get there.

Below is an example of a mutually agreed upon problem definition with a plausible and prescriptive solution and how to make it happen:

Problem:  A village suffers with disease and severe hardships in the absence of a clean and accessible water source.

Solution:  Drill and support on-going maintenance of a well for a clean and accessible water source near the village with them.

Success Looks Like:  Reduction of disease and well-being for all village members.

How:  Partner with the Charity Water organization (the one organization that repeatedly solves this specific problem globally) to raise necessary funds for the well with sustaining resources.

It’s much clearer and more impactful to set-off with agreement of the problem to be solved up front and the difference to be made.  Defining it clearly doesn’t necessarily make the problem easier to solve, but at least you’re not solving the problem of a village water crisis by sending in 40 volunteers from your church to paint their school building (again).



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