Solving Yesterday’s Problems Today

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about problems, and more importantly the solution to problems.  The thing that strikes me is how often we attempt to solve yesterday’s problems, and in doing so, we create the problems we will have tomorrow.

You see, as human beings, we like to work within the context we know.  That means we’re really good at seeing the things we’ve already seen, and conversely we often remain completely oblivious to that which is new and different to us.

I was reading Steve Yelvington’s post from the other day entitled “The Baby and the Bathwater” which covers the growing calls for creating a blogger code of conduct, to help combat what’s seen as a growing wave of cyber-bullying via comments and even post, and this struck me, as it had over the weekend.  For the record, I agree with Steve; I think a code of conduct is a ludicrous idea.

But it brought me back to the realization that we’re very good at fixing the problems we’ve already had.  The ones we’re probably not likely to have again…

I think about my search for a new boat.  I am looking for something with a very high freeboard and splash well, because I don’t *ever* want to be sunk by a wave from the stern again.  The truth is, I did very well with the last boat for 20 years – what would make me think that problem was anything more than a one time incident?

And I was also thinking about my daughters tooth incident last week.  How do I keep that from happening again?  I guess I could wrap her in bubble wrap, but then she’d probably get run over by some other kid on their scooter, because she couldn’t waddle away fast enough to get out of the way.

We’re very good at identifying those problems that we’ve seen before, and our tendency, especially in business, is to codify a solution to those problems.  There is a reason so many companies have 5000 page employee handbooks, but the truth of the matter is this: no regulations or protocols can take the place of good common sense and instinct.  By allowing our past problems to restrict our future actions, we’re calcifying our businesses, and in the long run, we’ll find we have less and less ability to capitalize on opportunity, and worse, we’ll find that solution for the problem we had yesterday creates the problems we will have tomorrow and beyond.

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