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Nested problems, nested solutions (2): trivial problems

If you missed it, start with yesterday’s post.

A problem is anything we want to change – however trivial or enormous.

Our very simplest problems have immediate symptoms and immediate solutions: a (non-recurring) itchy nose can be scratched and the problem is solved.

Many trivial problems can be “solved” by the decision that they are not important and can be ignored or avoided: a scratch on your nose caused by overzealous itching; a small stain on the corner of a shirt that nobody else will see; a squeaky hinge; a mildly irritating neighbour or a part of town you don’t like.

We can regard trivial problems that we ignore as “solved” to the extent that they go away and cease to bother us.

Some of them will solve themselves.

Some can be safely ignored and are unlikely to be noticed again.

Others will recur rarely enough that ignoring them is viable. Some will get worse and will grow until they demand our attention and a better solution.

Whether or not we’re right to regard such problems as trivial depends on how fast and how big they will grow, and how hard the eventual solution will be: deferring the oiling of a hinge for six months until it gets really squeaky is a different kettle of fish from deferring dealing with a diet that is likely to leave you with diabetes or clearing a rapidly compounding credit card debt.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...