Keith has strong interpersonal skills enabling him to work with diverse groups of people and motivate them to work at peak performance levels.

— Dr. Bob Bowers, Deputy State Superintendent, Ohio Department of Education

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Complex Problems Defy Simple Solutions

Complex Problems Defy Simple Solutions

A venti, non-fat, no whip, no foam, extra hot mocha is my coffee of choice. When I worked at the Ohio Department of Education, each day I participated in what my staff called the “caffeination migration” – my journey to get my mid-morning pick me up. As much as I love the coffee, I equally enjoy the quotations included on the side of the cup as part of Starbucks’ The Way I See It marketing campaign.

As is the case with most things in life, the quality of the quotation on my cup has proven to be hit and miss. One morning, however, I realized my cup contained one that really hit home:

Complex problems defy simple solutions. One cannot end poverty by giving money to every poor person, nor is the world cleaned up if everyone rode their bikes to work instead of driving. We need to commit to a total solution for our perceived problems. We need to also remember that most solutions hurt people too. What or who we hurt and who or what we fix is always the tough part of the equation.


John Adamsky

Every decision usually has both a positive and negative impact. Regardless of the badges you wear – employee, business owner, entrepreneur, supervisor, manager, executive – you are faced with a myriad of problems which require strategies that are complex, to say the least. There are no silver bullets, no neatly tied packages that can be unwrapped to resolve every issue and create overnight success. There is no innovative product or program that will, by itself, eliminate every obstacle in your way.

The sophistication of our employees, our competition and our world is increasing at paces that are unprecedented, and our businesses need leaders who understand that “complex problems defy simple solutions.” Complex problems require that we develop collaborative teams to examine and identify the root causes of the issues that keep our systems from delivering our goals. They require us to develop a multitude of strategies focused on eradicating those root causes, and quality formative assessments to gauge our progress throughout the process.

To do so requires leaders to ask themselves and others, “What do we need to be willing to reconsider or get better at if we are truly going to make significant growth or positively impact our businesses/lives?” Moreover, we must be steadfast in our commitment to our proven, data-driven strategies when faced with the hard decisions that often accompany the conversations around the need to challenge and/or change our processes, organizational structures, and approaches.

Where are you struggling? Where have you had successes? Share your experiences below, so we can learn from them. Perhaps you’ll find support as well.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF: Flickr Creative Commons Filip Federowicz

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Keith is a life & business strategist, connector, author, facilitator, speaker, entrepreneur & CEO. He’s a dad to an 8 lb. pit bull wannabe, a wine drinker, a softball player and a not-so-silent social voyeur.

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