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Dealing with Dilemmas: Where Business Analytics Fall Short by Frank Buytendijk

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Chapter 1. What Is the Problem?

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem," and "Don't bring me problems, bring me solutions" are executive mantras that can be heard all over the Western world. Western management culture has a solution-oriented view on problems. Oops, sorry; I am not even allowed to say "problem." I should refer to it in a more positive way and call it a challenge.

We live the 80/20 rule, where we realize that 80% of a solution can be realized in 20% of the time, while the remaining 20% of the solution would cost 80% of the time. We state that "better is the biggest enemy of good." We are action-oriented. Time is money. Any decision is better than no decision. Keep it short and simple.[1]

I find this type of management culture worrying, if not downright scary. If we jump to conclusions and implement the first solution we think of, do we really understand the problem (not challenge !) at hand? Are we not trading in one problem for the next, which we then quick-fix, too? You may argue that there is a well-known rule here: the law of conservation of misery. It says that for each problem you solve, at least one new problem is created, or as many new problems that together equal the trouble caused by the original problem. The best you can do is create a situation where problems hurt ...

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