Since the very beginning of humankind, problems have been there. Finding a water resource, food, accommodation or just proving ourselves to the others, running a family, financial problems, or social problems etc…
Thousands of years of life on earth and we still have problems, which are frustratingly shocking: global warming, student loans, what to order in tonight, or… your next Instagram post.
Problems have been shapeshifting and apparently even if humanity achieved immortality, they will be present.
Keeping that in mind Sometimes I pose questions to myself. ‘what is the most efficient way to solve a problem?’ ‘Can we have a global point of view that is evergreen’ and here is a compilation of the research.
Sun Tzu’s answer is:
“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
He was a military strategist and lived thousands of years ago, he talked to generals who fought against shoguns. That’s why the quote itself sounds so extreme, but still, we can learn a lesson from it.
To solve a problem, we need to know about its nature before coming to any conclusions. Then how can we understand a problem?
Classifying the problem can be helpful.
Before diving into this, I would like to share the meanings of the words that will be used:
According to Oxford Dictionary 1
Recipe for something a method or an idea that seems likely to have a particular result.
Formula: a particular method of doing or achieving something 2
To have a more ‘modern’ approach let’s look at Brenda Zimmerman and Sholom Glouberman’s classification of problems 3
Simple Problems: Baking a Cake
These problems can be solved by following a recipe:
No particular expertise is required
Recipes produce standardized products
The best recipes give good results every time
A simple problem could be doing that daily/weekly/monthly assignment.
For example, during my studies, the simple problem was translating some scientific documents into Turkish.
I would follow a translation pattern -a recipe- that was given by my instructor, and it would work.
Complicated Problems: Sending a Rocket to the Moon
Formulae are critical and necessary
Sending one rocket increases the assurance that the next will be OK
High levels of expertise in a variety of fields are necessary for success
There is a high degree of certainty of outcome
An optimistic approach to a problem is possible
Complex Problems: Raising a Child
Formulae have a limited application
Raising one child provides experience but no assurance of success with the next
Expertise can contribute but is neither necessary nor sufficient to assure success
Every child is unique and must be understood as an individual
Uncertainty of outcome remains
An optimistic approach to a problem possible
And a complex problem would be translating a literary text. You can still use recipes or formulae, you might have translated literary texts before but that wouldn’t guarantee the success of the one you’re currently working on, even an experienced translator could fail a translation. ‘Hence, translation is regarded as a process of cultural transfer that involves more than a simple search for a semantic equivalent.’ 4
Just like raising a child, literary translation has different aspects that can’t be fully solved.
What I like the most about Zimmerman & Glouberman’s approach is the optimism element. In each problem, the key is having an optimistic approach, trying to step forward.
What did you like the most about the analogy up there? How do you solve your problems? From the easiest to the most complex? Do you have any global approach to your problems? Let me know!
5) Most importantly the course which inspired me to write this report: https://www.coursera.org/learn/social-innovation