The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

The Problem With Solutions

Mark Kawabe - Friday, October 07, 2016

SolutionsEvery day, we're faced with problems. Some are old. Some are new. Some of our own creation. Some we had nothing to do with.

Regardless of the source, problems need solutions. Perhaps it's just one person who has to put in the effort. Sometimes it's a collective effort of everyone on the planet that's required.

How you solve a problem is related to your values and beliefs. This means that who you are biases you toward a certain way of solving a problem. Your solution that requires negotiation and listening won't appeal to someone who thinks going in all-guns-blazing is the correct approach. Who's right? It's hard to know, but one certainty is there will be a debate over which approach is better.

For the big problems in society, we'll only know how good a solution is a decade or more after it's implemented. Even something the majority of people thought was good at the time has the potential to fail dramatically. Sometimes it will be because the solution itself was flawed. Other times it will be how the solution was implemented. Teasing apart why a solution isn't working is often so complicated that many are tempted to scrap it and try something different. If you've followed an election, you'll know what this looks like. Most political parties are quick to point out why something their opponents did was useless. The challenge for them is to come up with something better.

That's the challenge for all of us, really. How do we come up with something better than the status quo? On any given day, we have an opportunity to do better within our selves, our families, our workplaces, our communities, our country, and in the world. How do we do this?

I suggest we take more time to listen, on all levels. Start by listening to yourself. Tune into your emotions, gut feelings, hopes, fears and dreams. What can you do to be a better person?

Remember, the solutions you choose for problems are connected to your values and beliefs. Making change in the world means making changes in your self. You won't create a better outcome for yourself by making the same choices.

This approach scales. Remember that when you're in a position of leadership. Creating better outcomes for everyone starts with listening, empathizing, having compassion, collaborating, choosing a solution and then clearly communicating the reasons for that choice. Keep stakeholders informed as you go. Honestly evaluate progress. Be flexible and humble enough to admit mistakes if there were any, then get re-focused on the task at hand.

Remember: when you're confronted by a problem that if it was easy to fix, it would already be fixed. "Silver-bullet" type solutions are rare, largely because most situations are more complicated than being attacked by a werewolf. If there's any "magic" in solutions, it's doing your best to make the most appropriate decision, implementing, measuring, adjusting if necessary and continuing on. 

 



Interconnected

Mark Kawabe - Sunday, September 18, 2016

We are interconnectedEvery action has a consequence. The smallest act not taken can have a huge ripple effect. We are interconnected in ways we don't often think about, yet exploring and understanding those connections are essential for our individual and collective benefit.

I'm fascinated with how our society is transforming. There are heated discussions around every topic imaginable. From the environment, to race, gender, technology, economics, food, culture, politics, energy, transportation, it seems that every facet of our society is undergoing change. It can be overwhelming to try and comprehend all that's happening.

My desire is to begin exploring these connections as they relate to Niagara. I hope to increase awareness of and discussion about these issues from an open and welcoming perspective, while weaving in information about what's going on in Niagara from a business and cultural view. This fits with my vision for the Niagara Guide to "Bring Niagara Together". It's kind of a grand, muddy vision, and I don't know where it's going to take me, but then again, it kind of reminds me of life in general. It's grand. It's not easy, neat or tidy. But at the end of the day, I'm grateful to have lived another day and appreciate the opportunity to have new experiences tomorrow.

I hope you'll enjoy the journey. More importantly, I hope you'll participate in the discussion and exploration of topics. All voices are welcome on the journey.




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