The dripping tap

So - here's a dripping tap. What's the problem? Three possible answers, but only one of them is correct...
Effective Storytelling - Podcast

Some will answer:

  • the tap isn’t turned off enough
    (or even on enough)
  • the washer’s faulty or worn
  • there’s a blockage in the pipe
  • there’s a fault with the water supply
  • there’s a block in the mouth of the tap

Some will answer:

  • it’s dripping
  • it’s a dripping tap
  • it’s obvious – the tap is dripping

Some will answer:

  • flooding
  • noise
  • waste
  • damage
  • erosion
  • danger of slipping

Which of these was yours?

  • The first set of answers all see the problem in terms of cause. The reason for the dripping tap.
  • The second set simply describe the problem, as if that is sufficient in itself.
  • The third set describe the effect, or impact of the problem. Only the third set of answers truly describe the problem.

Simply put, if there is no negative effect, then there is no perceived problem. The problem will only be identified and owned if the person, group or organisation sees a negative effect. Although the remedy, long term, will have to address the cause, sometimes a solution has to address the effect in the short term.

So people tend to see problems in one of three states: cause, description, and effect. To get ownership of the problem, the most important state is effect; to get a long term solution, the most important state is cause; but often the immediate need is to limit or tackle the effect.

“And, if you want to sell the problem to others, you need to sell it’s negative effects”

if you want to sell the problem to others, you need to sell its negative effects

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