Purpose Finding: Only solve problems you need to

Brian Williamson has commented that although “problem-solving is important and good when you are stuck. I’m convinced we are in need of some more purpose finding.” I agree and finding purpose manifests in several places in my approach.

The quote is from a Liberating Leader blog post. Although Brian’s post resonated in places, I disagree with the main thrust. Brian argues that purpose finding is a new way to get Unstuck, a new way of problem solving.

Personally I don’t think purposing finding is a new way of problem solving but I do think the clarity it brings helps in the problem solving process. At the best this means we can say “given our purpose this is not a problem or is not a problem we have to solve” and then do nothing.

Problems, Problems So Many Problems - Which ones to solve?

Problems, Problems So Many Problems – Which ones to solve?


There are probably lots of problems you could solve. But you don’t have to solve all of them. You definitely should not try to solve the problems that are not aligned with your purpose. Instead focus on those solutions that are aligned, even if vaguely, with the purpose. However, that is still quite a wide choice and you should not try to solve all such problems; doing so means you’re going to run out of time, energy and/or money. You have to be selective. Solve enough problems to achieve the purpose.
Problem Solving with Purpose

Problem Solving with Purpose


So I’m a big fan of knowing why my team and I are being asked to do things, of purpose finding. This drive to find purpose reveals itself in several places in my approach and in Lean-Agile in general. These all provide opportunities to legitimately do nothing when the problem is somebody else’s problem.

Here are a few places to look:

Reference

Williamson, B. (n.d.). A new way to get Unstuck. Liberating Leader.

One thought on “Purpose Finding: Only solve problems you need to

  1. As a BA, this post really resonates with my everday! I find that in the fast changing and unpredictable agile world, focussing on the purpose behind everything you are doing gives a nice anchor & confidence to make decisions. The “places to look” that you mention are many of my favourite articles on this blog 🙂

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