How do we get to the core of solving a problem? Ah, if it were so easy, we would have solved all our problems right?
So, in our local environment; we are in the fastest growing area in Australia. We have doubled in size and are due to double again in the next decade. In my past experience in business, growth has always equalled opportunity and investment. But in this case investment in infrastructure and liveability, jobs and social cohesion is falling behind the housing boom. I am no demographer (I rely on the people who understand this much better than me) But we are pretty much a young demographic, we are pretty well educated, we are multicultural and from diverse backgrounds, and, we have moved here because it was affordable and theoretically close to the city and was an ideal place to raise a family.
So we are essentially skilled productive people who are family focussed, who want a safe and sustainable lifestyle and future for our families. We are also extremely time poor as we are likely to have high mortgages, the need for a double income and we are either trying to make the commute to the CBD to our jobs (2-4 hours a day) or we are trying to freelance or start some sort of micro business locally (or both).
The call is always for more roads, trains, parking spots and easier ways to access jobs. But what about if we reverse this thinking and work out how we can keep more people off the roads, closer to their kids and build a stronger local economy, social cohesion and a connected community that can solve its own problems? Philosophically this aligns with the future of work and thoughts around collaboration and sharing economies. Ok! so we know what are problem is! But how do we solve it?
I have been looking at models around the world at activation projects etc, In general these need stakeholder support and funding to get started and the danger is a large format space that potentially does not activate anything – so the core is people or community? What we do and how we do it perhaps? There is a lot of us who are thinking and doing something in this space and amazingly it does seem that there are more and more like-minds starting to focus on the problem, and, I am convinced that we are all holding pieces of the puzzle. So is it collaboration? Now there is an idea – But what is collaboration? is it an ethos? is it action? how do you do it and why would you do it? Again, I am coming to the conclusion that this is in planting the seeds and starting with those that are engaged and building from there.
The truth is we do not have the answers and are going to have to pilot, test, learn, share notes and figure out what works and what doesn’t while staying true to the problem we are trying to solve. We have to model the behaviours and values and ethos we aspire to, and, be open to supporting and helping those on the same journey but maybe either not quite there yet or on a different road.
I have recently taken a step back to really think before taking the next step forward on this journey, and, I think to truly solve a problem we need to do this and ensure our foundation core and our Minimum Viable Product is right. We may want to change the world – but maybe that starts with us first. We may so fall in love with our own idea, that we do not see the obvious and do not honour others who are also working on the problem who may also be holding part of the puzzle.
Sometimes the solution is a lot simpler than we think and maybe, just maybe, we might be closer to it than we realise, if we take time out to listen, process feedback and have people who can tell us the truth and hold up the mirror that we need to gain perspective.