The Problem Statement

During the #HEWebMI Conference I attended last week a presenter brought up an awesome problem statement:

WHO needs WHAT because WHY?

Now, I tweeted this out immediately, but after spending the weekend going over my notes and tweets from the conference, I realized that this is a profound problem statement. Then placing it into the Student Affairs context,it really explains what Student Affairs Professionals do on a daily basis. Rarely can any of us describe our roles or responsibilities in a single sentence, but sit for a moment and think about our jobs. What do we really do? We spend all day filling in the Who, What and Why to this problem on a daily basis, or at least trying to…

Taking a look at this problem statement, we have a bad habit, myself included, in always figuring out the Who and What, but we seem to fail in attaining the Why.We seems to take on the mindset of 2 of 3, majority rules, move forward with the solution. (Sneaking a parliamentary reference for my R R o R friends amidst this mathematical post). But really, the meat of our problem solving is found in the always left out Why.

Perhaps this is the reason we hit walls and barriers in our problem solving escapades. We’re not solving the whole problem.We’re in such a hurry to be innovative, change agents and being the first to be champions for our students we don’t look at the problem in its entirety and ultimately only provide short lived solutions. In some cases these short term solutions have significant effects on our students, institutions and even ourselves and not always in a good way.

Now, I’m really embracing this simple yet poignant problem statement, and have posted it up on my wall to remind me to not stop with 2 of the 3 but to solve the whole problem set before taking action. Now, I know I should have learned this in elementary math and should have been able to apply it waaaay earlier than this, but better late than never, right?

So will you remember to solve the WHOLE problem before acting?

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

2 thoughts on “The Problem Statement

  1. This statement definitely stands out for me when thinking about the conference. Maybe I’ll put up a large poster of it in my office….

    1. I like to put up significant phrases or points in my office instead of the traditional Inspirational Quotes. It tends to spark interesting convo with my students and it helps me stay focused and when I need to regather myself, it provides me a great foundation.

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