Leading into the Future III: From the Pendulum to the Fire
One of these landscapes is rugged. It is filled with problems—not puzzles. Problems can be differentiated from puzzles because multiple perspectives can be applied when analyzing a problem. Several possible solutions are associated with any one problem and multiple criteria can be applied to evaluating the potential effectiveness of any one solution. Problems typically require a second-order change and are addressing fiery-issues that are irreversible.
There are many more cognitive demands being placed on us when we confront problems than when we confront puzzles—given that problems do not have simple or single solutions. Problems are multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary in nature. They are inevitably complicated in that they involve many elements (Miller and Page, 2007). Any one problem can be viewed from many different points of view—thus it is unclear when they have been successfully resolved. For example, we find a technical solution and realize that the problem has financial implications. We address the financial implications and soon find that there are a whole host of managerial concerns associated with the problem.
Problems that exist in contemporary organizations often concern such things as personnel policies (that are not forced by new government regulations), compensation systems (that are not just annual inflation-driven wage increases but incentivize certain behaviors), productivity, morale, creativity, risk-taking, flexibility—and trust. Because the outcome of the problem-solution process itself is of significant interest to multiple stakeholders, often the most important and difficult discussions revolve around agreeing on the criteria for solving a problem or even determining when solutions are successful.