Monday, May 12, 2014

The Cartesian Co-ordinates of Management Problem Solving

There have been a multitude of books written encompassing the terms management and problem solving  but this “quote” from President Eisenhower really rang true with me when I read it a few weeks ago – its called the 4 D’s

·         Do tasks Important and urgent

·         Delegate tasks unimportant and urgent

·         Defer tasks important but not urgent

·         Dump tasks unimportant and non urgent

In and of itself it is simplistic but true – if I was to  apply this at the beginning of each management day or project and be consistent about it  then life would be easier. It also sparked this blog because the principle behind this can be applied for problem solving and decision making. What President Eisenhower is doing here is in fact taking an event and applying two variable to it……I have always thought that decisions are easy when there are in fact no variables  - it’s black and white and yes or no  - but  as the poet John Dunne said “No man is an Island”.  Many problems are problems because there is a continuum of answers and in fact simply too much choice.

Importantly problems are just that - problems -  because we get into a set routine with regards to how we think about them.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein 

Therefore to solve a problem we need a tool that will allow us to in fact switch how we think about problems and see new opportunities and hence solutions. So pulling all this together this is what I suggest. Apply the following four questions to all problems , consider each question immediately and then at length and when I use this tool then my thinking about my problem changes and creates new thinking and answers.


Take any problem and …

·         What would happen if I do this

·         What would happen if I do not do this

·         What would not happen if I do this

·         What would not happen if I do not do this


Lastly for this of you wondering about the title – Cartesian co-ordinates – the term comes from the French philosopher Renee Descartes and his thoughts and “discoveries” around geometry.  Very simply you can orientate yourself for example graphically by reference to two other points – where those points are affects the picture you see. If we stick in the same orientation nothing changes – we have to think differently and be creative – is that not the purpose of being human?