Systems Transformation Miniseries: The Problem with Problems

The next time you are about to point out a problem, check your frame.

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Annette Zou and Leo Teichert
February 8, 2019

Whenever conflicts, obstacles or other unfortunate events arise, we are quick to identify problems. We theorize that once we arrive at an accurate assessment of what the problem is, it can then be solved. However when we jump to seeing problems, in that instant, we subscribe to a problem frame that seeks linear cause and effect. This limits a holistic view of the context and will handicap an ability to see innovative opportunities to address the issue at a more fundamental level.

Particularly in large complex systems, there are often too many problems to count. This is when people throw their hands up and say, ‘oh this is a bad system’.

An important aspect of taking a systems perspective is seeing problems as symptoms of an agnostic system. This is what underlies the idea that ‘every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets’ (P. Batalden)

In Systems Innovation, we are seeking an understanding of the system to gain clarity on how to design a new system that produces new results, hence removing the problems experienced in the previous configuration of the system. The goal is not to solve problems, but rather transform the system so that it removes the unwanted symptoms and produces desired ones.

Systems Acupuncture is an end to end Systems Innovation methodology that guides teams of multiple professions, disciplines, and levels to address complex system challenges through understanding its system dynamics and designing innovative systems-based interventions to transform system outcomes.

Learn how to develop a systems perspective and use it to drive deep systemic change through our System Transformation Masterclass.

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