How to solve complex situations.
Just before writing this article while I opened the computer I was trying to plug my earphone to one of the sockets as for working late, I always require some music to unwind and as a form of passive energy source . However the earphone was tangled in a complex knot. As I was eager to listen to some gospel music I have downloaded from the internet I hastened through the tangle and got further entwined. I was not looking into it but rather hustling my fingers through it. It did not help me at all.Then I suddenly looked carefully and tried analyzing the points where the knots were twisted and within seconds I really untied it and zipped it in my computer.
I was thinking quite sometime about writing on this topic but just before writing the article while I was intending to write it this incident provided me an additional fillip. Just before addressing the issue about tackling complex situation we first need to find out what is a complex situation and what are its common variants.
In terms of definition provided by Wikipedia Complexity is generally used to characterize something with many parts where those parts interact with each other in multiple ways. Hence when multiple interactions among seemingly simple events take place at multiple levels where a single theory or approach cannot explain or intervene it, then complexity arises.
This article will deal with complexity in everyday life rather than a complex theory or computation of a complex equation though the steps involved in solving each of them usually follow the same pattern as in case of any complex social scenario that we encounter in life.
To begin with, the idea of complexity is not a universal one. No two people in the world will agree identically that a given situation is equally complex to both of them. However in our life we come across some basic issues that we all agree upon to be complex even if not uniformly complex.Although the list can be endless yet we can always categorize it based upon certain basic components. As a thorough classification is difficult and not agreeable by all, the issue will be handled by the old technique of understanding in terms of instances.
Example 1- Sudden and chronic illness.
Last Monday as I returned home from work, I saw my father being severely ill and was lying on bed. I learned from the members of my family that he is suffering from severe vertigo and is under such distress that it seems as if he will be thrown out from his bed if he even tries to get up from the bed. At that particular stage we had no idea what was in store for him as he had no previous history of such disease, he rather had a kidney problem where his kidneys had got scarred due to infection in the nephrons. The disease could get fatal if very strict diet regime and physical exercise is not followed. We even did not have the least idea whether the disease is fatal and exactly what has been its severity. This has the setting of a complex situation where although the event is singular but it is linked with several unknown components. The unknown factors working are varied , the nature of the disease, question of fatality, the time span left in hand. Usually we can face those problems where we have an idea about the extent of its difficulty . Unknown adversaries are always difficult to fight. The issue is how we are going to fight out situations like this. What happened in this case? My father recovered very quickly and went on gaining strength within a short period of time . The situation was aptly tackled. Lets see how the situation was intervened.
My father got ill in his office. The office colleagues thought that he had some acute acidity or gastric problem. However they acted quickly and informed the office doctor who prescribed some emergency medication.While his ailment regressed a bit they telephoned my aunt ,who in turn informed my uncles. Two of my uncles took a cab within an instant and hurried for his office. However they did not inform my mother quite wisely till then because they knew she would panic. The two brought him home comfortably and immediately informed the house physician- who happened to be a MD doctor who could not come personally to see him because he was busy attending his patients, but he prescribed anti vertigo medications and an injection that he prescribed was given to him with immediate effect by my other aunt who is a trained surgical nurse.He remained surrounded by people whom he loved and this is a very important point in recovering from ailment.Every body behaved in a manner as if nothing very serious had occurred yet nobody panicked.Every thing was taken care off and while I returned home he was a lot stable. I telephoned our house physician to come and see him personally as soon as he can.He came at night diagnosed the disease as vestibular dysfunction mainly a disorder related to balance, that causes vomiting, nausea and extreme vertigo, not fatal but extremely painful.He in turn gave a full fledged prescription. He gave some exercises and brain scan, shoulder x- ray and routine kidney tests which were all meticulously performed and hence not only he was saved but he went from strength to strength within a very short period.
The above situation was an example where the situation would have become complex yet it worked out all fine because everybody acted accordingly and the intervention initiated was a very organized one. Nobody panicked and every one from office colleagues to family members behaved in a coherent systematic manner. Nobody was instructed in a predictable manner to act judiciously, yet everything turned all right because there was coordination in activity and a team work from a group of people who were not necessarily interconnected. Of course, if he fell on the ground and expired instantly then nothing could have been done. However the situation was bailable and there fore an effective strategy to combat the situation could be designed. Like wise every situation however critical can be dealt appropriately only if we can look at that from an objective point of view and take steps that are organized ,show team effort a spirit of collaboration and communication.
Confidence and hope, example 2-
Every crisis and problem in our world however worse it might can be tackled with one medication- hope. A plan no matter how thorough and well executed might be and however coordinated cannot work if there is no hope. When hope becomes persistent it turns into confidence. Belief in one’s mind that a situation can be salvaged is the primary prerequisite to resolve it .
Case of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela example 3-
Mahatma Gandhi was deeply disturbed by caste discrimination in our country and amidst clutches of poverty and foreign rule this condition looked even more grave . As we know Gandhi was a patient man but he had a very resolute mind and was never forceful. The crushing poverty, shackles of servitude to a foreign country and illiteracy had made the situation even more complex. The task ahead was herculean yet he never flinched. He had the hope that if within a small locality he could effect out the change later it could be extrapolated slowly to the entire nation. He also possessed two reasonably valuable characteristics courage and perseverance that saw him through in his goal. His painstakingly methodical means of looking into the problem was further accentuated by his deep love and compassion for the deprived. From his youthful days in South Africa where his first struggle against the British started he was supported by a very dedicated and committed group of people who shared his enthusiasm for justice and communicated with him thus forming an effective team. Often to effect out a great plan not only a good team is enough but the team has to be willing and intelligent enough to fulfill it
In the later part of his life in his struggle for independence and crusade against caste prejudices he met with major setbacks and he died with a broken heart due to partition of India and a blood-lust for power and position among close fraternities, yet for not a single moment he did squander his hope that in near future his country would rise above the discrimination of untouchables and attain new height.
Hope is a thing that we usually keep until our spirits break down completely . In order to execute a plan you need belief an assurance that you can do it. However the question arises for how long we can hold this hope. As the joker in ‘Dark Knight’ said that a man remains sane and moral as long as his spirits don’t break down completely. Nelson Mandela one of the greatest leaders of our generation was sent to prison and was given life imprisonment in real sense and was banished to a solitary island, he had no hope of being free but he went on exercising everyday, he used to study for long hours and did everything that would keep him agile and active . He did not give up fighting for the right even in prison and thus went on winning rights from a daunting cruel adversary . Things as basic as full pant to wear then books and writing material. It was not that he did not feel despondent or was always vibrant and happy , yet he brought a regular discipline and practice to keep that hope alive . This hope practiced over year gave him unmatched confidence and leadership abilities. In our daily lives while executing any plan and developing any specific strategy a lot of hard work is required and nothing comes without sacrifice. The willingness to act and hard labor are the key corner stones of success as nothing in a good plan is left to chance and always organization is the key to any achievement.
Food distribution system in India, example 4-
It is already known to the entire world that in terms of the agricultural production output, India has already become a major power in the whole world. Yet the overall distribution system in our country is so poor and lacks a proper structure that more than fifteen percent of the people in our country suffer from malnutrition. The issue of honest intent in our country is entirely missing and is replaced by corruption by the people of this country. However corruption and lack of awareness is interestingly only a side walk. As it is true with any situation the lack of a simple proper scheme and communication among people paralyzed by bureaucratic interventions always hinder the resource distribution issue. In this case we can thus see that despite surplus availability only a lack of decision and unwillingness to execute an organized plan such a basic and horrid situation is menacing India.
Polio Program in India ,example 5-
Even in country like India where poverty , corruption or malnutrition along with corrupt bureaucracy are hindering progress , some of our medical programs have worked with remarkable effect. One very notable instance is the eradication of polio. To completely eradicate a devastating disease like polio from a country as big as India which on herself is plagued by problems like illiteracy, corruption is itself a humongous job.To add to the woes are language barriers and bias in religion that further complicate the issue.Yet everything worked out great for polio eradication program. One of the reasons behind this is a very good dedicated Government policy. The local booths teaching about the importance of polio vaccination and creating awareness amongst people were very much functional. The booths were operative even in quite interior villages across the entire country.The awareness program through television and radio contributed well to the cause . Another unique thing that really happened for the first time with polio was celebrity endorsement for a social problem in India. Amitabh Bachchan the biggest movie star in India agreed to be attached as a celebrity endorser to the eradication program. In country like India where film stars are worshiped almost as God such a step can work wonders and it actually has. Right now other major movie stars being attached to such causes have already started paying huge dividends.
Again for an issue that is increasingly complex as this good and focused intent, organized strategy and decentralization of power to implement the strategy has provided the correct and effective solution.
Keeping room for failure Last words-
Even after thorough planning , good team work , noble intent, activism required to effect out that a plan can fail. There might be situations where may be suitable interventions can’t be worked out, yet nothing can fail absolutely. The definition of failure that we account everyday is also ambiguous in itself.Any situation from which we can learn something and go the next level is a success in itself. Hence it is important never to be dissuaded by failures in usual sense . Just like margin for error and outlier values for any data analysis we should always keep a room for failure. We should always try to reduce that with experience , yet we should always keep a respectful reserve for it. The ability to live with failure is an essential prerequisite for living happily in life. In the end it can be said that whatever problem we might face in our lives , we should always keep the optimism that any situation is combatable. If you hold your reserve sooner or later will be able to win each of them.