problem solving
When Do We Talk About Systems?

Seth Godin on the systems hiding behind the problems we face:

Your back hurts and you think you need surgery to help with the pain.

[When can we talk about the technique you use when you go running every day?]

Your employee shows up late regularly. How can you get them to care more?

[When can we talk about your hiring and leadership approaches?]

There’s racial injustice and unfairness all around us.

[Can we talk about persistent indoctrination around caste?]

We spend most of our time focused on problems because frankly, there are a lot of them. Problems are common and often immediate:

How do I pay this bill on time? What do I do about this pain I’m feeling? How do I resolve this argument with my spouse?

Because problems are sitting right in our faces, demanding that we solve them, we often give much less thought to the systems which generated (and will continue to generate) those problems).

Systems are the rails that guide our lives, problems are the fallen trees or mudslides that occasionally block them. Tackling immediate problems is, of course, necessary. But changing the tracks that our systems put us on is usually a better-though more demanding-use of our time.