Analogy stolen from the brilliant The Systems Bible (John Gall, 2003)
We tend to look at problems from the angles of potential solutions, and we tend to see best solutions as the best fit for a problem, like a glove perfectly fitting in the hand, made for each other. We are in fact proud of the solution.
We are less interested in seeing the liabilities of the solution itself.
Let’s say we have a garbage collection problem. The solution is a system of lorries and collectors as we see in any major city. But bringing this solution also brings additional problems. Here are some of them: the need for a definition of garbage, the classification of the types of garbage, the quality characteristics of the containers for the different types of garbage, the use of lorries, their time restrictions and the traffic congestion created in some streets, the recruitment of drivers, the procurement of containers, issue of licenses to collect garbage, a penalty system for non compliant households, health and safety of the system and Union negotiations to agree on drivers hours and pay.
The solution itself is not problem free. In fact the solution creates a great number of problems.
Organizational problems are similar to the garbage collection problem. Solutions to tackle complexity often bring more complexity in themselves. We tend to see the solution but not the new problems that we did not have before. This should not stop us from bringing the solution but it would be foolish to think that this is problem free, and more foolish not to identify the liabilities.