So how do you make a cup of tea?

woman drinking tea
Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Understanding the problem is part about knowing what the problem is, but often much more about understanding how the problem arose, the context, and the background.

There’s no such thing as an easy fix. Things which can be fixed easily aren’t generally seen as problems that need fixing, they are seen as tasks that need completing.

I will try and illustrate that with the simple problem of having a cup of tea.

I want a cup of tea, but there’s no water in the kettle. A simple problem resolved by filling the kettle with water and putting it onto boil, making the tea, and there you go.

This was an easy fix. 

Now imagine you want a cup of tea, but there isn’t any clean water supply. First you need to provide fresh water. Without a water supply you could install a supply, but a temporary solution might be to go out and buy some bottled water. Cheaper in the short run, it will be more expensive in the longer term. 

Then there is the challenge of boiling the water for the tea. What do you do if there is no kettle. Go and buy a kettle. 

An electric kettle is great if there is an electricity supply, but what kettle do you get if the fuel source you have is gas or an open fire. 

Finally you need to choose a cup. You would not be surprised how often this takes time as some people have a favourite cup others take their time to choose a cup. Reality is that this is probably the least important part of the process. 

If you have a water supply, electricity, a kettle, and a supply of cups; it can be frustrating to see and difficult to understand why others can’t easily make a cup of tea. 

You could argue that there is an easier fix of going somewhere and buying me a cup of tea. That is a quick fix, but is it sustainable in the long run?

This analogy shows the importance of dependencies and the context when you try and solve a problem. You also need to understand the skills and knowledge of those facing the problem.

Those with the foundations, the resources, the skills and capabilities, will be easily able to deliver a solution to what they see as a simple problem. However they may have not realised their journey in getting to that point when they are able to easily make tea. Just telling people to make tea, or showing them how to make tea, often isn’t sufficient, if they lack the foundations and infrastructure to actually make a cup of tea.

Now let’s not even mention coffee…

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