big problems are not better than small ones

In the context of systems-thinking, it’s easy assume we don’t care about short-term problems.  But problems – both big and small – need to be addressed simultaneously and constantly.

It’s true that long-term solutions resonate more with us, but that’s only in this moment of time.  And that doesn’t mean we can’t work on short-term solutions.  It’s just where we’re choosing to put our energy right now.

Let’s face it – if we didn’t fix the immediate problems now – even if we use bandaids – there’s no way the long-lasting fixes can take hold.  And if we didn’t tackle the long-term solutions, massive frustration would occur.

Social workers, teachers, doctors – these are people dealing with day-to-day issues, often face-to-face with the ones most in need.  They are doing the job most people don’t want to do.  It’s a lot easier to talk about what we should do rather than get in there and do the work that needs to be done immediately.

“Designers exercise social responsibility by solving human problems big and small” – Design Council UK, 70 years

While people may fall in one or both of these camps, we all need to work together in harmony.  All solutions, whether addressing big strategy or small scope, need connect to be most effective.

In fact, the small problems are simply symptoms of the big problems.  Short-term fixes help those in trouble now.  Long-term strategy will lift the tide for everyone eventually.  We’re grateful for the people working hard in either or both worlds.


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