“We have a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”
Tom Friedman’s latest book (hot, flat, and crowded) reminded me of this quote. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure who coined the phrase (some say Lee Iacoca), but it’s relevant to nearly every important challenge the incoming White House will tackle. The questions are 1) how do we uncover the opportunities that are hidden behind complex problems?, and 2) how do we break seemingly insoluble problems into manageable components…and solve?
Lots of thinking to be done here, but the White House would be remiss if it didn’t source the public for answers to these important questions. People like Mark Surman and Vivek Kundra have been advocating and implementing game-changing ideas on how to partner with the public to solve problems at the municipal level.
Rather than attempting to spin out brand new ideas, the White House should first take a critical look at smaller existing initiatives like these to figure out 1) what has and hasn’t worked, and 2) how we can scale proven ideas to the federal level. With the help of an energized public, problems become opportunities and insurmountable challenges become specific, shared goals.