Skip to content

Nested problems, nested solutions (4): practical problems

This is part of a series thinking through the different layers involved in solving real-world problems. It’s a sketch of ideas in process.

If you’ve solved or ignored your way past your trivial problems and researched your way out of theoretical problems, you’re likely to find yourself facing a practical problem.

Practical problems are about bringing the theoretical solutions we have for our problems to bear on reality – how do we make this thing actually work in the real world?

Example practical problems:

  • I know the pieces that need to be in place for a child to learn to read – what actual books and resources are available that I can use to teach this child? How do I use them?
  • I know that regular exercise plays a big role in overall health – what type of exercise will work for me in my context?
  • My research confirms the importance of savings in helping families to be resilient against shocks – what can I do to make it easier for my clients to save?
  • There seems to be a market for my product. How do I need to package it and communicate about it so that they’ll learn about it and buy it?

Practical problems might be solvable with common sense, practice or hard work, or they might open up a new set of theoretical problems that require fresh theoretical solutions before you can proceed. This cycle of theoretical research driven by practical need is a powerful driver of learning.

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