Solving the Intangible

They say, the 'problem' with problems is emotions. If feelings weren't part of the equation, every decision, every solution, every action wouldn't hurt as much.

Too many humans on the planet. Kill some so others may live comfortably.

We need cheap labour. Clone genetically-altered humans with lower intelligence and use them to serve homo sapiens.

Terminate all pregnancies with genetic disorders.

The very fact that you cringed at those three sentences shows that you are in fact, still very much, human. With emotions.

However, that isn't the problem. The problem is that we ignore that we have these emotions. And that is when problems don't get solved.

In many situations, individuals, organisations and countries hold to a left-brain view of problems, that the only risks and issues that matter are those of processes and decisions.

Unfortunately, they forget the intangible ones, less easy to quantify: relationships and motivation.

I have met people who say to me when I propose a solution, "That's easy for you to say". When I ask them what they mean, they never refer to the ineffectiveness of the solution, rather the lack of acceptance or push-back by someone else.

When people misdiagnose an issue to be either process-related such as bottlenecks, resource-poorness and low productivity, they throw money at it, expecting it to be solved.

But when people are purposely sabotaging each other in the office, causing deliverables to be completed late, do bosses really believe that investing in Standard Operating Procedures, providing more A4 paper, better equipment or even installing a fancy software will solve it?

The sabotage will continue, because the problem is Relationships.

Human Resources Departments can't fathom why, when they offer monetary incentives, nothing happens to raise their employee's motivations. Money means nothing to one who has no purpose to work towards.

Emotions are an inseparable part of humanity, and no amount of drumming in definitions of "professionalism" can drum that out of them.

The solution, while simple to say, is to accept that the four problems types of Processes, Decisions, Relationships and Motivation (PDRM) are equally valid and in most cases, interact and affect one another.

In this way, all problems are actually a complex mix of at least two or all four. They never come alone. A change or solution to a process affects relationships, which impairs decisions, which lowers motivation, as one example of their interaction.

Approach all problems as if they were an impostor. They might look like one type of problem on the surface, but they usually hide many knots that require unraveling. Take the time and work through the strands. Just remember that behind the strands you can see, are those you can't.

See the emotions, and you can solve them.