Problem Solutions

It seems to me…

Seeing problems is easy; solving them, unfortunately, frequently is difficult. In addition, what we initially consider to be the problem is merely a symptom of some deeper underlying problem.

As a manager, when someone would complain about a problem, I’d usually respond that, yes, I agreed with them but what would they suggest given the constraints of limited budget and resources. The initial recommendation almost always involved increased costs and other expenditures. After they realized why it was impractical, other totally viable workarounds usually became acceptable. While not always ideal, those recommendations usually worked.

When young, we would gather at our favorite pub and solve all the world’s problems. Everything seemed so much simpler back then (especially after one or two beers). We viewed the world as black/white; yes/no. With more experience, I started to see subtle shades of grey. Now, being somewhat more aware of problem complexity, am aware of limited color. Images are blurred and frequently change too rapidly for actual solution but I now realize how difficult it is to solve the most critical problems we face.

Perhaps we really want to believe in the simple solution. Politicians would like us to believe they can solve whatever it is we consider the primary issue of the day. Conservatives see the world through one set of colored glasses; to liberals everything seems colored entirely differently. Usually both beliefs are overly simplistic and neither addresses the actual problem. Responding to a symptom of the problem merely masks the underlying cause delaying any real solution.

Our economy is in trouble. Increase government expenditure to lower unemployment and revive the economy. No, cut spending to decrease the deficit; cut taxes to revive the economy.

Health care is unaffordable to too many people. Provide national health insurance affordable to everyone reducing costs to employers so they can become more competitive. No, eliminate government health related requirements to reduce overall expenses.

Drug addiction is a major problem. Improve border security and penalize countries producing these drugs. No, it is our problem; increase drug treatment and eliminate the reason why people use drugs.

And on it goes. When can we start to address the real issues? The so-called “War on Poverty” was unsuccessful partly due to politically-based opposition but there were elements worth reconsidering. All I know is that what we currently are doing is not working and that there does not seem to be any realistic discussion as to what the really problems are. Not only do I not know the solutions, even the problems no longer are that obvious.
Perhaps all of us need to stop looking for that overly simplistic solution to our problems. Perhaps they really are not black/white; yes/no.

That’s what I think, what about you?


About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
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