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Problems and Solutions
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  • “Successful problem solving requires finding the right solution to the right problem.
    We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem”
    Russell Ackoff

    “For every complex problem there is a simple solution. And it is wrong.”

    “Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”
    Laurence J. Peter

    Successful problem solving requires finding the right approach to understanding the problem and developing the best solution.
    We fail more often because we make assumptions about the problem that lead to bad solutions
    Bernard Robertson-Dunn.

    I have come to the conclusion that in most enterprises the Architecture and Project Management disciplines are broken. Technical specialists are too focussed on solutions. Architects are too pre-occupied with frameworks and methods to actually solve business problems. Project Managers are out of their depth when it comes to solving problems - all they should be allowed to do is implement an architect's solution.

    Having participated in, examined and analysed a wide range of failed IT projects, these are the conclusions I have reached. You can take them at face value or follow the links and find out more.

    The value of a solution exists in the problem it solves.

    Not all problems are the same. It is critical to ensure that the approach to a problem reflects the nature of the problem. There are three types of problem: Tame, Complex and Wicked. Be sure you know which type you are working on.

    If you don’t understand the problem, you won’t understand the solution.

    Solving a problem always creates new problems. Not understanding this can be dangerous to the project and to the problem owner.

    Analysis does not solve problems – it’s only the first step in understanding the problem. The second step in understanding the problem is when potential solutions are developed.

    Planning does not solve problems - it's not even the first step. Planning is something you do during the implementation phase. Planning means to set goals and allocate time and resources. The act of planning can be a problem, but planning itself does not solve problems.

    Understanding a problem means identifying the cause. Addressing symptoms will create many more problems and unintended consequences.

    There are three types of requirements – the requirements of the problem, the requirements of the solution and the requirements of the project. 

    One of the costs of a solution is the problems it creates.

    The solution to one problem is probably not the same as the solution to another, even similar problem.

    Part of governance is good problem solving

    Bernard Robertson-Dunn 2011