|Source: Flickr, Tom Larken|
I’m sure that Eric Knight would appreciate this joke. Knight’s main thesis in his book Reframe is that we tend to look for solutions where the light is brightest. The light is brightest in our immediate vicinity. We miss what is outside this circle of light. Knight suggests metaphorically that we are attracted to bright, shiny objects and are far too wont to approach problem-solving by looking for answers through magnifying glasses.
Knight uses a number of examples to back up his thesis. For example, the reason that Long-Term Capital Management lost billions of dollars in 1998 was, according to Knight, because they used 5 years worth of data whilst failing to notice the 5 decade wave that was about to wash over them. Similarly for terrorism, immigration and climate change.
Knight makes a compelling case. His is a lesson that we must learn quickly if the complex issues and wicked problems facing humanity are to be solved.
So what does Knight suggest? Primarily, Knight argues that we must accept “that society (is) unfathomably complex – far too complex to be grasped by even the most intelligent person on their own”. Adaptation, patience and humility are the new hallmarks of a re-framed problem solving approach.
So too is the recognition of our collective knowledge and experience. In a passage that would resonate with most community development workers Knight asserts that:
“Our best decisions did not come from dictates delivered from the top down. They came from initiatives carried out from the bottom up.”Reframe is a welcome addition to solving the complex problems of our time. Not because Knight suggests any answers but because he gets us to reframe the questions in ways that prompt us to cast aside our magnifying glasses, to look at the bigger picture, to look outside the immediate circle of light.