It’s true that the problem-solving activities we were exposed to in our early education often felt disconnected from real-world scenarios. Physics problems were often set in idealized universes with no real-world context, and it was difficult to see how they would apply to our lives outside of the classroom. But, as we’ve progressed in our careers, we’ve realized that the problems we face in our technology projects are actually much more concrete and personal than those we were taught to solve in school.
When a technology problem is solved with care, it often improves the capacity of a group of people or things, and addresses some fundamental problems. And, on top of that, these problems are often tailored to us and our unique skills and experiences. It’s like the problem chose us to solve it. This can be a powerful realization, as it means that the problems we’re facing are not just some random, abstract scenario, but are specific and personal to us and our work.
Of course, it’s not always easy to see the nuance in the problems we have to solve day-to-day. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to get caught up in feelings of intimidation, cynicism, or fear. But, if we can focus on the personalizations and how they relate to us and our work, it can help us approach the problem with more confidence and less fear. And remember, the path a problem takes to get to us is not just about our own choices, but also the choices of our colleagues and clients.
In our professional lives, we’re often faced with non-idealized, thorny, and frustratingly real problems. These problems can be rich, dramatic, and not trivial, and can be a source of growth and learning. But, it’s important to remember that the way we were taught to solve problems in our early education may not always be applicable to the real-world scenarios we face today. By recognizing that the problems we’re facing are concrete and personal, we can approach them with a different mindset, and tackle them head-on.
The problems we face in our professional lives can be challenging, but by understanding that they are hyper-concrete, and hyper-personalised to us, we can approach them with more confidence and less fear. And by recognizing that the path a problem takes to get to us is not just about our own choices, but also the choices of our colleagues and clients, we can gain a deeper understanding of the professional fabric we are woven into, and that fabric includes our colleagues and company and stretches outside it.