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The Problem is Not the Problem

People are fascinated with getting ahead and being successful in their personal and professional lives. Generally, this has to do with their ability to solve problems, identify obstacles in their path, and figure out how to move past them. Regardless of profession, each of us is on the hook to solve problems ranging from the trivial to the intractable. But “problem” is an overused word. We assign the label to almost every imperfect situation we encounter, then deal with all of them in roughly the same way: either we avoid them or tackle them head-on. Then we wonder what happened when, lo and behold, our kneejerk “solutions” turn against us. For all our efforts to conquer the skill, for all the value we place on those who do it well, we too often ignore a critical truth about problem-solving: problems are not always problems. More accurately, there is a range of problem types, and a range of different strategies appropriate for handling them. We just can’t tell the difference.

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The Problem is Not the Problem

  1. 1. The Problem is Not the Problem Harry Max, VP Product & Design! Jim Meyer, VP Product & Development! ! Rackspace Hosting
  2. 2. #sxrackspace There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about. John von Neumann
  3. 3. #sxrackspace I’m a problem solver.
  4. 4. #sxrackspace You’re a problem solver.
  5. 5. #sxrackspace It’s what we do.
  6. 6. http://www.anonymousartofrevolution.com/2012/10/the-problem-is-not-problem-problem-is.html
  7. 7. #sxrackspace Let’s unpack that.
  8. 8. “The problem is …” is problematic. #sxrackspace
  9. 9. We go looking for problems. #sxrackspace
  10. 10. Sometimes we make the problem. #sxrackspace
  11. 11. Most of the time, we don’t realize what the problem really is. #sxrackspace
  12. 12. Repairing vs. Creating Value #sxrackspace
  13. 13. Repairing vs. Creating Value #sxrackspace
  14. 14. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic
  15. 15. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  16. 16. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace By definition, problems can be solved Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  17. 17. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Dilemmas require you to choose Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  18. 18. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Issues may need to be addressed Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  19. 19. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Predicaments are problems that! can’t be solved, by definition Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  20. 20. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Quagmires are predicaments that! get worse as you try to solve them! Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  21. 21. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Potential disasters are scary Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  22. 22. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Extinction level events, if they ! come to pass, end it all. Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  23. 23. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Solve Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  24. 24. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Solve Manage Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  25. 25. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Solve Manage Mind Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  26. 26. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Solve Manage Mind Plan Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  27. 27. So, where should you focus? #sxrackspace
  28. 28. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Solve Manage Mind Plan START HERE Less effort, ! more impact Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma
  29. 29. The Problem is Not the Problem #sxrackspace Solve Manage Mind Plan Difficulty to solve Scope of impact Trivial Brutal Small Epic Issue Problem Predicament Quagmire Potential! Disaster ELE Dilemma WORK ABOVE THE LINE Things down here are lower impact
  30. 30. #sxrackspace There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about. John von Neumann
  31. 31. #sxrackspace The problem is not the problem.

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