Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions.

Peter Senge

Yes, this is a cynical thought, but also a smart guiding tool. In a perfect world, there would be no problems, but in this perpetually imperfect world, we can hopefully recognize that problems result (often unintentionally) as a result of or in the context of solutions (good or bad) to past issues. Billionaires not paying enough tax is one example; receiving high numbers of grant proposals at a small foundation is another; failing test scores in inner city communities is yet another.

The tax issue is the result of solving a problem of establishing and formalizing a tax system in an effective way that was supported generally by the population.

The unmanageable influx of proposals could be the result of publicity of a foundation name through another grant and the establishment of a website solving a communications gap.

Falling academic records could be the result of tests (& therefore, often teaching) becoming more streamlined and rigorous or of re-instituting arts programs during the school day.

In each case, solving a big problem was not a bad thing, though a new problem clearly emerged. It’s everyone’s job to recognize this and do what we can to handle outcomes and problems as they surface. We can learn a lot from them and make smart decisions, but there are limits to how proactive we can be in eliminating problems; sometimes, being reactive is the best we can do, and hey, if we’re forging ahead, maybe that’s not so bad.

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