We Need More Problem Solvers, Not Problem Finders

We Need More Problem Solvers, Not Problem Finders

Can you solve problems? Of course you can. When there’s no food in the house, you go to the store. When you’re short on clean socks, you start a load of laundry. We solve simple problems like this each and every day.

Sometimes, this every day problem solving even makes us feel heroic. We’ve all been there. Short an ingredient for dinner? Stain on your favorite shirt? With a little help from Google, you rescue what seemed like a lost cause. And, it feels good to solve these “I was about to give up, but then . . .” types of problems.

But, when the problems seem too big, or too complex, we tend to become problem finders, not problem solvers. We spend our time and energy offering complaints. Joining a chorus of other problem finders. Without ever considering our ability to offer solutions.

Take for instance Twitter’s moderation of the content on its platform. Some people believe Twitter has endorsed certain ideologies by virtue of the rules it has created. Joe Rogan hosted both sides of the debate this week on his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.

Twitter was represented by its CEO, Jack Dorsey, and its Chief Legal Counsel, Vijaya Gadde. The other side of the debate was represented by American journalist, Tim Pool. As the journalist cited examples of Twitter users being sanctioned or banned, the Chief Legal Counsel explained how Twitter’s rules were implemented.

More than an hour into the conversation, after analyzing multiple examples, nothing was resolved. No problems were solved. Why? Because the journalist was not offering any solutions. He was merely a problem finder. Choosing to be dissatisfied by what Twitter was doing, without offering anything more to the conversation.

Another example of problem finders are the multiple cities that are jumping onto the “ban cashless” wagon. This week it was Philadelphia.

As stores like Amazon Go increase in number, cities worry that consumers without bank accounts or credit cards will be negatively impacted. These cities reason that consumer choice will decrease unless retailers are required, by law, to continue to accept cash.

Yes, for many consumers, a cashless society creates a problem. Just as a world communicating via Twitter has created problems.

Automation inherently creates problems. Bias in algorithms has also created problems. So too have computers small enough to fit in our pockets.

But, we’re not solving problems when all we do is find them, point a finger, and complain. Nor do we solve problems by attempting to block or ban progress.

Technological advancements that cause problems are going to continue. By some estimates, at a very rapid pace. We cannot afford to begrudge every problem. If we do, we run the risk of creating a fixed mindset. One big, collective, fixed mindset that closes off opportunities for progress and growth.

Banning cashless stores is not the way forward. Cashless stores create problems and opportunity. Opportunity for someone to solve the problem. To be of service to the people who need goods but don’t want to rely on banks.

Bickering about Twitter’s rules for moderation is also not the way forward. I don’t think there’s anyone who believes Twitter can exist without rules. But, what the rules should be, or how they get enforced is a problem. A problem that someone can solve. There’s an opportunity for someone to figure out how we monitor global conversations at scale.

It was from Mark Manson that I learned that progress does not eliminate problems. Rather, progress creates better problems.

As we progress further into the 4th Industrial Revolution, we’re going to inevitably create new problems. And, that’s ok. That’s precisely what will create new opportunities. New jobs. New careers. 

How we respond to technological advancement matters. Our attitudes matter. We will not create new opportunities, or jobs, or careers, with bickering and banning. We can do better.

If we want a better future. If we want our kids to have greater opportunities. We have to lead the way. We have to develop our collective growth mindset. We have to be problem solvers, not problem finders.

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