Blind Spots
Don't Confuse...
It's All About You


Expand your problem horizon.

Think in terms of systems.

Many like to solve problems. But few consider the ramifications of their solutions on the system where those solutions are applied.

We use a refrigerator to cool stuff in a house that we heat in winter. We use water heaters in a house that we cool in summer. This sounds like a system where heat pumps could be put to good use, all the more where energy prices are likely to rise.

Look at public restrooms. Some restaurants strangely provide a means of washing your hands, and then present you with an exit doorknob.

Even in your own home: If the faucet requires your dirty hand to turn it on, what benefit is there to cleaning your hands only to touch the now-dirty knob to shut off the water?

Understand as much of the environment of the problem as possible.

The Aswan dam was built to prevent the annual flooding of the lower Nile River valley. But the floods brought fertile mud to the farmlands around the river. It became a lot harder to grow crops without that natural fertilizer.

The attempts to prevent forest fires keep down the effects of the small fires. The consequences are ironic when the kindling undergrowth is not periodically removed, so that the big fires are unstoppable. In addition, some seeds require the application of heat in order to germinate.

Give nature some credit. Ten years after Mt. Saint Helens blew apart, it was difficult to see the effects of the blast.

Maybe our problem is that we are such ephemeral creatures, relative to the time-scales of nature.

Don't fix symptoms -- fix causes.

While it can help to treat the symptoms for quick relief, you know that a pain-killer won't cure appendicitis. Look for ways to deal with problems to eliminate their recurrence.

For instance: Challenge the health-care system. Many of the businesses involved make their money in perpetuating the status-quo situation rather than eliminating it. Don't just demand cures. Work on preventions!

Think long-term as well as short-term.

Don't just solve the problem. Solve the related set of problems if you can.

Keep learning about the system in which you have deployed a solution. New information might come about because of a changing environment, necessitating a refinement in your solution. That's okay.

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