How to solve big problems

Just because someone has a lot of responsibility, say running a large company, doesn’t mean that they know how to solve big problems. Because the skills necessary in running a big company are not the same as those needed to solve big problems. Keeping the shareholders happy by meeting profit targets has absolutely nothing to do with big problems.

Tell that to the Captain of the Titanic — the iceburg.

Keeping everyone happy, the shareholders, the unions, the customers does not mean that one can solve the big problem. The Iceburg.

Examples of big problems that are not successfully solved by the usual management

  1. 911 style attacks. Wars. Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
  2. The coronavirus. In early 2020, there was news a pneumatic virus from far off China.  I blogged and tried to raise public awareness of this threat. My first Covid blog entry. The Administration declared that everything was under control. By February 2021,  a half a million Americans had died.
  3. Mass shootings. When I was a kid, there was no random violence like there is today.
  4. Climate change. Bill Gates in his book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” says that we must be carbon zero by 2050. As the Bible, Job 37:06 For to the snow He says, “Fall on the earth” and to the shower and the rain, “Be strong”.
  5. Digital cameras and Kodak. For much of the 20th Century, Kodak was photography, But by 2012, Kodak declared bankruptcy.
  6. Large slave populations. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise kept the peace by trying to balance the free and slave states. By 1850, California was admitted to the Union, and by 1861 we had the Civil War.

The worst course of action is to try to ignore the problem and hope that it will just go away. If it wasn’t so damn frightening, this would be downright comical. But this is the most likely scenario. Because people have inertia. And because most leaders are not willing to risk the sure thing, for an unknown.

It is common practice in the business world to hire a consultant when the Company is faced with a big problem. I like to  think of myself as a pragmatic optimist — a realist. I have been trained to analyze and solve hard problems. I worked for many years doing this in industry. The key insight — you must be able to anticipate what the customer needs and will want before they do. You must always be ahead of the curve. In this way, you always have a happy customer. 🙂

And the big ship can avoid the iceburg.

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