Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Solve The Problem: Symptom vs. Cause

The other day someone told me that they didn't care much about the outcome of the election because "nothing changes anyway." The only thing that bothered them though was the "policy of killing babies."

OK, the abortion debate. I wasn't going to ruin a good conversation by responding the way I wanted to: "You must be out of your mind."

Because factually speaking an abortion is not killing a baby but rather preventing a fetus from becoming one.

Also when one considers that globally women are far from free to control their reproductive lives (let's work on child slavery/"marriage" shall we?), and the poor life prospects of unwanted children, it seems sort of farcical to insist in fetal rights vs. all other human considerations.

I agree that abortion is a problem. But if you want to solve it look to the causes (rape, incest, peer pressure, poverty, absent parent, etc.), rather than focusing exclusively on the symptom (unwanted pregnancy).

At work there is a tendency to focus on the symptom, the immediate and visible problem, rather than the cause. Most "crises" can be traced to factors that are intangible, invisible, difficult to measure, non-obvious and slippery. Strong leadership, management, teamwork etc. are not things you can "see" but their effects can be observed in how the organization is run.

A great doctor treats the whole person - body, mind and spirit. S/he asks questions that range widely across your life, not to intrude but to get at what is going on. Because a single illness can cause multiple symptoms that are seemingly unrelated.

Similarly when you assess a situation it is helpful to back away from the symptom itself and look at the context around it. It is there that you will find the cause. And once you have the cause you can begin to identify workable solutions.

In medicine this is easier than in organizations and social life of course. But it can be done even at the individual level. Simply refuse to perpetuate the dysfunctional behavior. Act normal. You being a voice of reason despite pressure to fold and become a "zombie" can have incredible ripple effects.

Good luck!

P.S. All opinions, as always are my own. Not a political endorsement or non-endorsement.