We have too many problem definers, we need solution builders

Quote attributed to Bill Van Dyke.

Once upon a time, I was watching an internet industry thought leader. He
had a real skill describing a problem, and then giving it a memorable
name. He didn’t seem to care if they were real problems. I hadn’t seen
them in the wild. He was building his world.

The next guy up was running a global web operation for a large
corporation. He didn’t have any classy names or theoretical problems. He
kept saying, “when we ran into this problem, we did this.” And he was
logical, believable, and smart as hell.

A questioner was confused that his solutions certainly worked on big
operations, but she also thought they would work for her small company.
He allowed as how he thought it was the quality of the solution, not the
size of the problem that allowed it to scale.

Score One.

Then he was talking about best practices. For the first time, I realized
that the trick is having best practices that make so much sense, your
people are lining up to implement them.

Score Two.

Most of the best practices I have seen called for an immediate
performance decrease and loss of viability. Calling them “Best
Practices” was supposed to make them different.

“We have unlimited problem definers, we need solution builders” I think
there is something to that.

What can you add to help this along?

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Gary Berg-Cross

I’ve believed something like this for a while. Often I see consultants and presenters who do a pretty good job identifying problems and get an audience whipped up and motivated. All to the good, but when they take on the part problem of addressing solutions they are sketchy and general. They often propose a limited set of options without offering evidence why these are selected or why they will work. It is a bit like talking about an illness and then jumping on a miracle drug solution.

Dick Davies

Amen, Gary!

I figured out I want to hear from the second guy. Now I have t figure out where they are found.

Now that we have the Internet, being able to make a name for a disease isn’t so useful.

Ethan McMahon

Let’s make it easier for solution builders to know what problems exist and are important. The problems could be organized into topic areas (eg, for environmental problems we could use EPA’s web taxonomy, http://iaspub.epa.gov/sor_internet/registry/termreg/searchandretrieve/taxonomies/search.do). We could encourage parties, eg, communities, to tell us what problems are the most important to them. And we could catalogue the solutions so others could reuse them. How does that sound?