The Danger in Prescriptive Solutions

So often in our lives people unwittingly prescribe particular solutions, often without realizing it. This can be dangerous and lead to ineffective or inefficient solutions.

As a good steward and partner, it’s important recognize the difference between a need and a prescribed solution, and to solve the former. If you blindly implement a prescribed solution, you often invest significant effort only to learn you built the wrong thing.

Dig beyond prescriptive solutions to solve underlying needs

Here’s a simple example showing the power of communicating needs rather than prescriptive solutions:

Prescriptive solution: I want a structure built of red brick, with 4 walls, and be 8 feet tall.

Underlying need: I need to keep my bike from getting wet when it rains

Aha! So could we instead:

  1. reuse an existing structure
  2. cover your bike with a tarp
  3. build a structure but with different materials
  4. build a structure but with different specifications

Digging beyond a prescriptive solution to solve the underlying need allows us to re-evaluate a need from first principles. This opens up a whole new world of creative solutions to best address the need.