We have this tendency to think things are much simpler than they are. Brad Frost pointed this out a few months ago with his piece here on the Pastry Box about the word “just”.

We say it to individuals, but also to groups of people, to organizations, to entire industries.

"Why don’t you just…"

Fix your websites. Improve this archaic process. Use this new technology.

We’re a community of problem solvers, and that’s a great skill to have. But we can’t solve problems we don’t actually understand. And much as we might be loathe to admit it, problem solving isn’t simply a matter of coming up with the right answer. Truly solving a problem requires finding a solution that can actually be implemented with the resources at hand.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone, believe me. Somewhere along the way, my critical-thinking skills got distilled down to looking at a situation and asking, “Why is this broken?” or “Where did they make the wrong assumptions?”

Those questions introduce assumptions of their own though; that I know more about this problem than the people living with it, for one.

These days, I’m trying to take a step back and ask, “How did this come to be?” instead. “What am I not seeing here?” is a nice follow up.

Next time you’re tempted to jump in with a “Why don’t you just…” I invite you to do the same.

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