Problem solving tools are not meant to help people collaborate, care for each other, or engage productively with their families, communities, or organisations. They are meant for situations in which generating hypotheses, gathering data and undertaking rigorous analysis are required – all of which need us to look backward to where the problem began and how it grew to be so large. The very term, “problem solving” causes us to look for and focus on problems – not solutions. The technical “answers” those problem solving tools deliver may be correct. However, if implementing those “answers” successfully relies on getting people to work together and to be engaged in the process and the solution, and if the outcome of those “answers” is supposed to include a sense of pride, joy, and hope and inclusion – they simply don’t work. This is because traditional problem solving tools do not take into account the huge positive potential of the interpersonal connections that populate our world. Nor do they address what is required to help us develop the positive connections that actually enable us to innovate: to be creative, see possibilities and generate options. What is required is opportunity, good will, and a dedication to affirming, positive language that builds rather than breaks.
The language of deficit, also called the language of lack, is so pervasive in our lives. From wars, to global warming, to the homeless on our own doorsteps it can be easy to despair. It’s not like we want to get up and be miserable or uncooperative or hurtful. It just happens from time to time. However, if we can engage in positive social connections – rejoicing in the people around us, from the person at the coffee bar to our own friends and families, we can be taken to a different, more positive place. That is because language itself takes us places. It can take us to war or lead us to peace. It can inspire hate or generate love. It can close us down or open us up, and the great thing about being opened up is that we necessarily see the world as a better place – we see options and possibilities, we are more flexible and creative, we are more hopeful and happy. This in turn causes us to use more positive language and forge still more positive connections. And so the upward spiral continues.
The amazing thing about something as simple as baking and giving away or selling bread is that there is simply no room for the language of deficit. None. Eating good bread is a simple, healthy pleasure. Knowing someone is going to be enjoying your good bread is food for the soul and the heart. The amazing possibilities of combining flour, water, salt, and yeast are realised in a loaf of bread. The reality of sharing a positive moment is realised in the exchange. The consumption of good bread whether alone or in the company of others is a wonderful, nourishing experience – a 100% positive moment in time.
Yes, there are problems in the world, and deploying analytical problem solving processes will solve some of them. However, they will not solve all of them. All of the top-down designed programmes in the world will not alleviate feelings of isolation, disconnection, or powerlessness that many people feel – even if they are otherwise healthy. What will go a long way to alleviating these feels are generating moments of connection in which we are mutually affirmed, from which we take away positive feelings and a sense that there is something to look forward to in the future.
Click here to learn to bake bread so you can share it with others and, in doing so, give and receive positive moments of joy and optimism.
Click here to learn to set up your own microbakery so you can earn money, build the lives of people in your local community, and do something you love.