In the last few months, I took time to reflect on my professional journey so far and where to go forward. My main theme is that I always loved solving problems and where better to do that than in consulting!

Yet, I saw many projects and organisations not succeeding. The first challenge was often a lack of clarity about the problem to be solved and thus selecting an unsuitable solution. Once work started, past decisions created further resistance to review the problem understanding. In the end, the desired outcomes were often missed as a consequence of a bad problem-solution fit.

Let me illustrate that point with a metaphor. A police officer sees a man searching under a streetlight and asks what he is looking for. He says that he lost his keys, and the officer joins the search under the streetlight. After a while, the officer is puzzled they could not find the keys. When the man unquestionably justifies that he lost them in the park, but it is easier to search here, where it is bright.

While the twist in the metaphor is obvious, it is not as apparent when solving complex real-world problems. If it is not clear what the actual problem is, it makes intuitive sense to search where it is easy to find something. Because the same way it is easier to look under the streetlight, it is easy to get drawn in by the certainty of existing solutions.

And while some problems can be solved by streetlights, I believe sometimes you will need to go into that dark park and search for the lost keys there. Because even though it is difficult, it is where the real answers are.

I believe, the world needs more people with torches willing to go where the problems are.

So, if you need someone with a torch please get in touch. And please add your thoughts below if you think I stretched the metaphor too far.