We have reached “the end of problem solving” as a mode of inquiry capable inspiring, mobilizing and sustaining human systems. The future of organizational development belongs to methods that affirm, compel and accelerate engagement involving larger and larger levels of collectivity.

For me an asset-based development model holds much more promise. In my experience problem-based models merely hold on to the status quo.  An organization moves toward a target outcome until faced with a problem which slows or limits forward movement.  An inordinate amount of time and energy is then re directed until the problem is solved and things get back to where they were, business as usual. This process of problem management keeps the gears moving in a planned and predictable way but will not ignite organizational reformation or led to a transformation of practice.

Asset-based models of development, in contrast, leverage organizational and individual strengths and talents to build capacity and expand thinking. When the focus is on creative possibilities and potential the status quo is naturally challenged.

The Problem with Problems