wrong way round

I have been pondering the issue of solving the wrong problem (or solving the problem at the wrong level) ever since I read a news story about an elderly woman who was allowed to have in-vitro fertilisation to help her get over the death of her adult son.

It seemed like a case of not seeing (or not willing to see) the real problem; of not delving deeply enough to identify the real problem.

The real problem this woman faced was grieving for the loss of her son; not her inability to conceive.

Sometimes a problem is not what is seems. A marketing problem can actually be a senior management personal relationship problem.

The most rigorous requirements gathering process can miss unsaid needs; especially if one is not sensitive to subtle emotional signals like irritability, and closed body language.

What is unsaid, unidentified or undiscovered cannot be addressed. And we end up solving the wrong problem.

Have you ever been involved in a project where, despite meeting all the targeted goals and KPIs, everyone was nonetheless left with a pervasive sense of un-ease, as if an iron was left on somewhere in the building…

NB: This is distinct from breaking down a big/complex problem to tackle one piece at a time. See my post on the Two Diamonds method to delve deeper into problems.

Image: Wrong way round via Shutterstock.