Why Problem-Solving Doesn't Solve Problems (Part 3)

Blue sky & clouds through stained glassThis post is the 3rd & final installment in a series. To begin at Part 1 head here.

The Evidence

We’ve established that Problem-Solving solves neither complex organizational problems nor complex social problems.  And we’ve posited that the only thing that CAN solve such problems is to look beyond the problem – beyond “zero” – to a positive state, and to work backwards to create the path that will lead to that affirmative state.

Having a visionary, positive, idealistic end goal is not touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo. It is as simple and practical as math – aiming for something positive beyond zero, rather than aiming at or below zero.

So here’s some proof.

First, Examples of Real Vision-Based, Reverse-Engineered Plans
To see what the reverse engineering process looks like in action, check out this community-wide plan to ensure families are financially secure.

Second, A Wonderful Video
In the very first words she speaks in this video, Nelsa Curbelo says, “My work is to promote peace.”

She does that work on streets where gangs are the rule – where goals might more likely be to “end gang violence” and such.

Indeed, gang violence is being reduced. As the video notes, “rival gangs have formed truces, turned in their weapons and have started working together to rebuild the community.” They have solved the problem on the way to something powerful, something affirmative, something whole.

Quoting from the video, the words sound as if they had come straight from The Pollyanna Principles:

“The opposite of violence isn’t non-violence; it’s power. When one has moral power, power of conviction, the power to do good, one doesn’t need violence.

“There is a power, which is not a power over other people, or an authoritarian power… the power of service… the power to build life.

“Flowers don’t grow from diamonds, they grow in the mud. From these kids who are considered the scum of humanity, the mud, the best things can be born. A different world is born when they are the change-makers.

Which Brings Us to The Pollyanna Principles
The Pollyanna Principles contains three full case studies showing how practical vision-based planning is. It shares stories of results. And it shares an inside look at the steps to getting beyond zero.

And in the Shameless Plug Department, if you buy the book and the DVD, you’ll get a discount you can’t get anywhere else!

I hope this series has inspired you to try a different approach to planning next time. No more problem-solving. No more miring ourselves in what is not working about today.  Let’s tether our plans to the future we DO want to create, and start walking the path to creating that future.

Many thanks to Pam Fox Rollin and the Global Women’s Leadership Network for the heads-up about Nelsa Curbelo’s work in Ecuador.

Photo Credit: Dimitri Petropolis

4 thoughts on “Why Problem-Solving Doesn't Solve Problems (Part 3)”

  1. What if we had ways within our Community Benefit community systems to learn from people like Nelsa Curbelo (wherever in the world they may be residing) and bring those programs home? I thought it was interesting that Nelsa is an Ashoka Fellow. Ashoka (www.ashoka.org) is a well known organization (in international circles) which in its own words is ”a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs”. It’s based in the U.S. but because its focus is global it is seen to most U.S. nonprofit leaders (and here I’ll say NPO as that’s still the mindset many are in) as something that’s relevant ‘out there’ but not here. Imagine what a program like Barrio de Paz could do if more widely shared and replicated in the U.S.? (Okay, Hildy, I’ll step off my favorite soap box before I go on for too long! but thanks for sharing this video and I hope its origin will give us all some additional food for thought…..)

  2. Are you kidding? Get right back on that soapbox!!

    I am smiling because my “Good morning tweet” this morning was this: “If we ask the right questions, we find a world filled with teachers.” Is it perhaps because in the US we feel we have all the answers, and are not open to asking? Is that just the US, or perhaps the developed world? Or is that just my perception?


  3. The Power of social media: I shared this with Pam Rollins (@pamfr) and it shows up here. She tweets about that and I find my way to your blog. I am moving forward with intention to create a community based Soup Pantry with veggies supplied by neighborhood roof top gardens tended by local mothers & kids. Will really appreciated connecting with your ideas & experience.

  4. Meryl:
    Welcome – and thank you! We will all enjoy learning from you as you move along in your efforts. I hope that reading these three posts gives you a good starting point for your endeavor.

    In addition, read through some of the categories at the right (and don’t forget all the articles in the 3 libraries here: http://www.help4nonprofits.com/H4NP.htm )

    Best of luck – and keep us posted!


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