As I look around, I see people everywhere scrabbling to find the perfect solution — the perfect new tech product, the perfect transport solution, the perfect job, the perfect home, the perfect partner…
We think there is ‘one thing’; the solution that’s going to solve a single problem every single time it comes up. We want to scale, we want to perfect our systems and structures.
If I could find ‘X’ I’d never have to think about that thing again.
And yet, the truth of life is that we’re never done. There’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ and there’s no such thing as ‘done’. Each of us, and the word around us is in perpetual motion.
I saw this very clearly with a client this week who was asking me about organisational structures and why it seems to be the case that we evolve to ever-more complex and top-heavy structures. he was seeing top-heavy where it looked like flat and agile was a better model, but the general pattern he was observing was that structures and systems evolve for out-dated problems.
We’re great at finding solutions to challenges in the world around us.
What we’re not so great at doing is realising that those solutions are often solving a problem that is already in the past. Or at least, at some point soon, someone will have a new idea to so solve the same, or emerging challenges.
Let’s take a very practical example…
An organisation I work with has designed a way of providing maternal health care that seems to solve most of the problems that exist with the current provision in the country they are piloting this model.
If only we had the money to roll out the new model,
their CEO told me,
we would be able to improve maternal and child health across all of East Africa.
Yes. That sounds true.
The model they’ve developed is a solution to a situation that exists now. It can never be the answer to all possible scenarios in the future. There will always be local differences, demographic changes, technical changes, or new health care trends — good or bad — that will arise in the future.
Rather than being despondent, however, about always chasing somewhere we can never get to, what we often fail to see is the capacity that provides us with these solutions. Within each of us there is an amazing potential for creativity and innovation; for designing and implementing new ideas.
The coming together of minds and means that came up with the new model in the first place.
This is what we have going for us — not the model itself, but out innate creativity and willingness to work together for a common good.
Of course, the East African maternal health model provides a potential shortcut to a solution in new locations, just as my client’s organisational structure provided the solution to some past problem. It’s a place to start, and maybe it’s even something to scale without adjusting.
We shouldn’t lose sight though, even when we do scale, that the solutions don’t come from the structure and the system, the solution comes from the human capacity for new ideas.
‘Perfect’ may not exist, but we humans are about as close to perfect as it’s possible to get.
Look there when you’re facing a challenge because what we have is better than any single model or structure or product — we have the source of all possible solutions.
About the author
Cathy Presland is an expert in transformative leadership. She has more than two decades of experience in government and international organisations and her focus as a coach is to support impact-driven individuals and organisations to improve their performance, leadership and peace of mind so they can make more of a difference with the work they do. Find out more at https://cathypresland.com