The Newtown Tragedy – Our National Response and Problem Solving
As are many people across the United States and around the world, I'm saddened by the violence that claimed so many lives Friday in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The mass shootings that plague our country are incredibly upsetting. My friend Bob Emiliani created the graphic that's shown at left, that represents our collective mourning.
As with many situations, it's easier to identify that we have a problem. What's less easy is figuring out solutions that will really prevent future violence. Complex problems rarely have simple solutions, right?
Can we have any sort of national solving effort along the lines of “Lean thinking” or the “A3” problem solving methodology or will we just have knee jerk solutions proposed?
People blame the murderer, they blame the parents, they blame the guns. They blame the shutdown of mental health facilities, they blame the media and movies and video games.
People propose all sorts of solutions – get rid of guns, ban the importation of bullets, reinstate restrictions on assault weapons… it all seems so reactive, so emotional… jumping to solutions is not good problem solving. People scream “do something!” — but what?
Doing nothing (as has occurred after recent mass killings) and expecting the problem to go away is not good problem solving.
As I've learned from the Toyota people I've worked with, good problem solving includes the following questions:
- Do we have a problem? Yes.
- Do we know the root cause? There are many causes… do we address the many contributing causes? Is there a single “root cause” that can be addressed?
- Have we proven cause and effect between the root cause and what occurs?
- Do we test the proposed countermeasures to see if they are actually effective?
Can we ask our leaders, at state and national levels, to be thoughtful and rigorous in their attempts to solve our societal ills and make things reasonably safe without trampling the rights of all law-biding citizens? What do we do about mental health treatment?
Can we expect good problem solving from government and elected leaders? Or just a bunch of talk about things that might just sound good? What do we do? There's likely no single, easy answer.
My thoughts and prayers are with those who are grieving and mourning in Connecticut and all whose lives have been touched by this sort of violence.