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The Problems We Have With Problems

In my time as a developer and leader of other developers, I've focused a lot of my effort on understanding how people diagnose and solve problems.

This is an extremely broad topic, obviously, but still some interesting things have emerged as a fruit of my intrigue.

Here's an incomplete list of things that make problems... well, problematic, for humans.

  • Mixing up recognition with diagnosis
  • Confusing symptoms for roots
  • Trusting narrative over facts
  • Strict dichotomization
  • Visible focus
  • Control fallacy
  • Tunnel vision
  • Hindsight narratives
  • Irrational, but popular, beliefs

Each of these is hard to see if you're in the middle of it. Extremely hard to predict. Easier to see in others, but also elusive because none of these problems presents itself perfectly.

Unfortunately this post won't give you a silver bullet, but here's a few things to try.

This is a short list in a category where lists don't solve the problem. However, if you're reading this right now, I hope you leave this page encouraged and equally humbled at the reality of the complexity of problems we face every day. Give yourself, and others, grace. When you feel like you've done that, double it. We all need more grace.