I find it interesting how all of us jump ahead of where we are when it comes to solutions to issues or problems.
Here are three ways this can occur:
The stories we create to explain something (and offer a solution we deem obvious) where we know little about what happened or is happening.
The one line summaries we write down to describe a 20 minute conversation on a topic that has a lot of depth to it.
The conclusions we share as decisions, without ever explaining ourselves as to what we know that led us to these conclusions.
Think of the need to connect two mountains by designing a bridge between them. You have a lot of empty space between the two mountains to do your work. As a result, you have a lot of options. Build it high up or low to the ground. Make it wide so that cars can use it or of a short width to be used only by pedestrians. You could attach it on the sides of the mountain or build pillars from the ground up upon which the bridge could rest.
What’s missing? Not seeing what it is you first know before making any of these choices. Let’s take a look at what we might need to know before ever deciding anything about this project:
How tall is each mountain? How many people live on the side of each mountain? What is the soil and rock quality of each mountain and the cavern underneath it? How do people get from mountain to mountain now? What is on each side of the mountain that is either popular or useful to see or get to? What type of weather and climate do you have in the area? How do you get to the tops of the mountains? Are there streets, highways, or railroads on the side of each mountain?
The list can go on. I am sure you could add to it.
What is important to understand is that effective solutions and progress are built step by step and not magically discovered.
More importantly, without being clear on what you first know, you will make mistakes and drift. Keeping you much further from reaching your goal.
This approach does not come naturally to most people. I consider it more of a discipline of thinking rather that an unconscious habit. One worth exploring to begin to see areas where we trip ourselves up when are trying to do something that is meaningful because of things we missed along the way.[This discipline of thinking is also a great way to get a group both committed to work on a project, as well as make sure that the solutions that are offered are grounded in the facts of what they know before working to create them.]