Do “Solved” Problems Actually Generate More Problems?

Campbell and his team had just completed their assignment of selecting and installing a new software system.

“Great job and problem solved,” said the president.  “We can disband the project team and all can return full-time to your regular jobs.”

“Not so fast,” Campbell argued.  “The system supports newer, more robust analytical tools.  If we fail to make these tools available, we will be at a competitive disadvantage. Upgrades are already on the horizon. We’ve identified the need for more training.  We actually need to add a couple of staff.”

Studies by Harvard researcher, Daniel Gilbert and his team suggest that as problems become smaller, our conception of the problems expand.  Or, “When problems become rare, we see more things as problems.”

President Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes in 1938 to combat polo.   Thankfully, Jonas Salk’s vaccine to prevent polo became commercially available in 1962.  Rather than disbanding, the March of Dimes refocused its mission to address the issues of premature births.

During growth, many organizations add support personnel at a faster rate than production employees.  The opposite occurs during declines.

I understand that the proper use of support personnel adds value.  However, many leaders, I suggest, would be better off by erring on the side of caution when adding support staff.