In life, problems occur because we find them. The less well-defined they are, the harder they are to articulate so they more difficult it is to contextually organize our response. A problem that’s well defined has no need for any kind of problem finding. It’s simple. The lightbulb is broken and needs to be changed. A class 4 problem is one that lacks shape, has no structure, and is open to many different possible interpretations. If you want to learn how to solve problems creatively then I recommend you to take problem solving training course.
The question I am currently exploring in my research is twofold:
- Does that mean that problems are only ‘interpretations’ when they are complex?
- If 1. can be explained as having some significance, demonstrably, does that hold then that different interpretations of a problem provide different representations?
- If these representations are different… could it be that complex problems are malleable? Do they have a lack of definitiveness? For example, if I deliberately change the way I interpret a problem, do I so by changing the solution first? If I navigate a new pathway to a solution FIRST, when I enrich the manifestation of issues I currently perceive. Even further, if I change my perceptions by thinking about solutions will I by some force, accidental or serendipitous, reveal a new layer of the complexity I am entangled in.
That’s a big question with lots of little questions nested in it. Yet, this is knowledge in the raw form.
These are the things that I think about when I come to class 4 problems. We note and see the manifestation of them but lack the appropriate tools to interpret them cleverly enough to say we have any knowledge of them. Perhaps these schema needs ‘Class 5′ to represent problems that are manifesting but have no clear explanation or yet lack a clear framework.
So class 5 could be Creative Solutions. Why? Well if there isn’t a problem but a manifestation of one then a solution is required from a different starting point.
A solution is better than a problem in so many ways. It automatically suggests a problem because it’s a solution. In fact, by agreeing to finish a problem (hat tip to Professor Colin Eden’s work) and instead of looking at a solution, key ideas of what the problem is could actually emerge. I have seen two cases in recent memory when external crisis events created a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Once the solution (twitter) presented itself, the problem (communication during emergencies) presented itself and had to be managed. You can’t manage unstructuredness. As a matter of fact, if you try to manage the unstructured it will produce variability which itself can’t be managed only adapted to. Enough truisms!
Get to the bloody point
So what’s missing from most management textbooks? A chapter on creativity and management. Structured problems versus unstructured problems and wicked versus tame problems. Managers are not ready for variability. Unstructured is the stuff life is made of. Unstructured does not lend itself to concepts of yes and of no. We need management textbooks with ‘unstructured’ in their chapter lists.
The unstructured manifesto
Here’s what we need to do next. Remove the word problem from our vocabularies when we are talking about complexity. You don’t have a problem you have a manifestation of unstructured. The next few steps are critical. But, I don’t know what they are yet.
I am sure I will die frustrated, I was born that way. Yet before I take my last breath I would like to add something to the set of ideas surrounding complex problems. I am committed, in for the long haul, down to the last nail in my coffin, ready to use more commas when appropriate metaphors burst through the sun of my dark days (oops there I go again). So this is me, reframing, framing, and entangling the mess of structure with my clouded view of the world. Peace and I will see you at the next post if not in the reality we call life at some point in the near or distant future.