Solving difficult problems and taking advantage of opportunities are the same thing. Both involve a change in direction, the acquisition of new knowledge, the marshaling of resources, and the enlistment of helpers. Difficult problems and most opportunities evolve an answer over some time frame. It helps to have a chart with the sub tasks showing their time to complete, their cost and the time when they should start. Not everything can begin at once. It is like building a house; you cannot paint before the drywall is installed.
That methodology seems to work only for confined problems, like the ones in your life or maybe those in a smallish business. In larger enterprises and especially in government another factor is present.
The factor that matters is that large businesses and governments have or have had many situations and solved them. They have whole departments staffed by skilled people who can solve the situations as they arise. They like to solve problems and if none are readily available, they will imagine some or over solve ones that exist.
That is an immense waste of resources. Peter Drucker claims,
“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”
This condition of doing well, things that should not be done at all leads to many other problems.
Aside from the wasted resources, all law and rulings from on high have unintended consequences. Many conflict with other forgotten rulings. Most apply generally to situations that are narrow and particular.
Milton Friedman in a moment of cynicism pointed out,
“I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse.”
Not all problems and opportunities available to government end badly. Many do not, possibly most. The danger is that in bureaucracies of any kind, the available work will fit the available time. People like to be busy and productive. Imagined problems are a wonderful way to fill otherwise empty time.
We can do better.
Learn to worry less. Spend time on identifying the essence of both problems and opportunities. You will learn many problems go away if left alone. Many opportunities are anything but. Filling the space with understanding is valuable for the future. For the few problems and opportunities that filter through, directed and effective action is more possible when you have deep understanding.
Governments can solve problems. So can lawyers. So can departments within corporations. In situations where resources are not infinite, they will all require help in deciding what to focus their attention upon.
Until recently governments were not very resource limited. Those days are in the rear view mirror. They will soon be forced to be frugal. One of their first and very difficult problems will be to determine what they should stop doing and how.
We could help by asking for less.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772