The four standard methods of dealing with any problem are the following:
This appears to be the most common way of dealing with problems. It simply means to almost deny existence of a problem. We feel the problem but we are not ready to accept it as one. Instead, as it happens, we wish that it simply vanishes or goes away. This is the default mode, a very natural response to problems. We do that on a personal level. We do that on an organizational level. If it weren’t so, all organizations would be great places to work and all homes would have been heavens. A reasonable metaphor would be: ostrich putting its head in the sand, wishing the danger to fly off on its own.
With this mode of dealing with a problem we simply copy some available solution. It might be one of the famous ‘best practices’ another organization or person is following. It might spring from some experience of someone who dealt with a similar problem before. Most often than not it turns out to be a wrong experience. Or it might be a very simple common sense approach to deal with a problem. Use of simple problem solving techniques like ‘why-why’ are generally used for this purpose. With this mode of operation we are aiming for a ‘good enough’ solution. We are not interested in the best possible way of treating a problem. It is something like most consultants do regularly in various organizations. A good metaphor might be: Having a headache? Take this pill. It would disappear in no time.
To solve a problem means to stop a problem from recurring or resurfacing. It would involve change or partial correction of behavior. It might be a change of behavior of a part of a machine, a particular behavior of a person or a method or a process. But it is never connected to the change of organizational behavior or change of organizational climate or environment or transformation of an individual. An appropriate metaphor might be: in winter wear woolens.
To dissolve a problem one has to redesign. We can redesign a machine so that its total behavior and its outputs change forever. It is something like transformation. Like, a person changing completely so that existing problems are never experienced again. It is a long-term change involving complete elimination of all the problems in the system. For an organization it means complete overhaul of its strategy, outlook, mindset and practices. A right metaphor in this case might be: give a man a fish, you would solve his problem of hunger for a day; but teach him to fish you have dissolved his problem of hunger for life.