Problem finding

Sometimes we think we are solving problems that do not really exist, except in our own minds. Or, at least, the way that the problem is phrased simply does not go to the core of the issue. In these situations, it can be helpful to reframe the problem in more abstract terms.

A good example of this was the "people's revolt" against rising fuel prices in Britain in 2000. By blockading fuel depots, a handful of protesters—farmers, hauliers, those living in rural areas—brought the country to a near standstill and the government was seen to be ill prepared for such an extraordinary turn of events.

At first sight, this was presented as if it were a problem of the Blair government being out of touch with the people. New Labour was seen as losing its popular instincts—people thought it could easily reduce the tax element of the cost of fuel in an otherwise buoyant market. Most of the press portrayed this as the problem, to which the answer was for the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer to heed the voices of ordinary people and reduce the amount of tax on fuel. A few saw it as an expression of greed by the oil companies.

Reframe this problem in more abstract terms and it becomes a very different issue of sustainable development. The real problem suddenly becomes much clearer: How might a government persuade people that paying more for fuel is the right thing to be doing if a commitment to the environment means that we all need to drive our cars less? The problem then becomes one of culture change. Creative energies can be focused on changing our perception of the role of the car in our lives. By finding the real problem, you can create the real solution.

Sadly, the politicians did not reframe the problem in this light on this occasion, but did win the media round to stopping their support of a small minority of protesters.

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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