On Self Led Problem Solving

IFS News
headshot of katie Nelson, with text that reads Message from the CEO

Dear all,

This past week I have been thinking a lot about problem solving. As one of the leaders at the Institute, I hear frequently from a wide range of stakeholders on issues important to them and then working with our team and others to figure out how to solve them. Important issues such as;

· How do we grow the number of programs offered while maintaining the integrity of the teaching?

· What additional offerings do we want to provide, in what order and to whom?

· How do we expand the accessibility of our offerings?

· As we serve new communities and regions of the world, how does IFS need to evolve as a model? What in our organization needs to shift?

We will be spending more time in 2023 and into 2024 developing longer term plans around these and other important issues. As we do, we will be considering not only what we are trying to solve, but how we are working to solve these problems.

In a recent opinion article in the NY Times, Noam Chomsky, wrote about ChatGPT, “Today our supposedly revolutionary advancements in artificial intelligence are indeed cause for both concern and optimism. Optimism because intelligence is the means by which we solve problems.” I used to believe that. I used to believe that tougher problems required greater intelligence. Intelligence certainly helps, but as I have spent more time viewing the world through an IFS lens, I have seen that often, intelligence doesn’t solve the right problem. Intelligence stays at the surface, where the managers and firefighters live. Mr. Chomsky makes some of the same points later in this article.

The same week I read this article, I witnessed a brief demo that Dick led while with a group of business executives. The executives were stressed. There has been a lot going on in their business so far in 2023. One of the demo participants wanted to work on a part that always sprang into action to solve the problem when his wife was upset. This was not a successful strategy. In his words “It never works. It always makes things worse.”

During the short demo, he identified and spent time with the part that felt it needed to spring into action to solve the problem for his wife. He expressed appreciation for that part, and let it know that he appreciated all it does for him during his busy work day solving problems. He also offered an invitation for the part to just be present with his wife when she is upset. The part was able to relax, and expressed a desire to be more present and also some optimism that this new strategy would result in a more successful outcome.

This was a great lesson and reminder to slow down and make space for parts to shift and solve problems at a deeper level. To consider, are we springing into action to solve a problem at the surface, when maybe what we should do is slow down, listen more deeply, and deliver a solution that emanates from connection, calm and compassion.

I believe that as a leader at the Institute, we are working in service to you. We are working hard. We are working fast. We are also working to slow down at times, listen deeply, and work to solve problems at the right level. In the words of Albert Einstein “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

Over the coming months in 2023 and into 2024 we’ll keep you posted, not only on what we are doing to address important issues, but also why and how we are doing what we are doing.

If you feel we are not working at the right level of the issues – let us know. We are here and we are listening.