Problem Blindness, Salmon, and Chicago Public Schools

enrichment resources Oct 22, 2020

What does salmon running have to do with ISO? How can this enhance high school graduation rates?

Throughout my career of training, consulting, and auditing organizations and processes, it was common to see weak corrective action systems. There was acceptance that the problem was a part of life (problem blindness) and disbelief that the problems could truly be fixed. Band-aid solutions abounded.

Our society rewards reactive responses to problems. Have you ever witnessed recognition, and perhaps awards, going to people or teams who have “saved the day” by stopping a problem from becoming a disaster? Organizations often throw resources at a problem and avoid putting in the effort to prevent the problems in the first place. This approach does not fix the systemic issues that are pervasive causes of the problem. Just like salmon, to solve a problem, we must go upstream.

The new book Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen demonstrates the opposite of problem...

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Holistic Systems Changes: How do we start?

enrichment Jul 21, 2020

Problem blindness is when we accept the way things are. We do not recognize that there could be a better way. It is a way to justify not taking action. 

If you are human, you are concerned by the arrest and murder of George Floyd and the long list of the other mistreated and murdered people of color. This means you are beginning to recognize the problem. It is upsetting to me that without the viral video, the problem blindness to racism would likely continue unnoticed by many. Now, it is in the spotlight and there is interest to do something to dramatically improve social justice, but how do we start?

Our society rewards reactive responses to problems. We throw resources after the problem and hesitate to put in the effort to prevent the problems in the first place. Firing and charging the offending police officers with murder is an example of a reactive response. It is at least a recognition of the injustice. It does not fix the systemic social issues that are...

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