Redefine a Problem

Oddly enough, this particular assignment has caused me more difficulty than any other that I have done.  I understood the concept behind it which is to find a problem that has been redefined or re-imagined.  For whatever reason, I have had the hardest time even thinking of an example let alone one to write about.  With that in mind, here is what I came up with.

In New York City, there is a huge problem with the subway system not being able to meet demand.  This particular article explains that 1.8 billion (notice the b) rides were taken last year.  It also used a colorful explanation of the problem by explaining, “Harried riders press together in a jumble of elbows and backpacks, and the mosh pits on many platforms are so dense during rush hours that engineers slow to a crawl as a precaution in case people fall or get shoved onto the tracks.”

The article explains that people in the state house are proposing a toll tax on the bridges that come into New York which would allow the MTA to have money to upgrade infrastructure and create new lines.  While I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, it seems like how people solve the problem regularly.  Throw money at the problem and hope it works.

This reminded me of an article that I read a while ago that proposed that the problem isn’t the number of trains or the number of cars on the trains.  The problem was that they were using the wrong kind of cars.  The reimagining of the problem was to purchase cars that had minimal seating which would allow for more people to fit comfortably standing up (called open gangway cars).

R211 Open Gangway Design

My takeaway from this particular example is that sometimes the problem that we perceive is not the actual problem.  In this case, the thought was that there weren’t enough trains, routes, and cars when in reality the issue was that the space was being inefficiently used.  This lead me to consider the problem of Professional Development.  Is the issue that what we are doing is wrong or is it that we just need to reorganize how we are doing it?  Perhaps the problem is one of inefficiency rather than a system defect.

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