Leaders Build Systems, Systems Solve Problems BY AGBA JALINGO

In Breaking News, Columnists, Opinion

As we continue to broaden the conversation around leadership in the age of personalization, it is trite to remember as, Karl Popper, one of the most influential 20th century philosophers of science, once eloquently stated that, “All life is problem-solving.” I’ve often contended that the best leaders are the ones who know how to solve problems.

Problem-solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do. Yet, with as many problems as our constituencies, senatorial districts and State are facing, it is interesting to note also that the most appealing conversations ongoing amongst the gladiators and onlookers isn’t how to approach these problems and more that keep mounting. It’s about how to share power amongst the ruling class.

But the problems keep mounting so fast that we find ourselves taking short-cuts to temporarily alleviate the tension points, so we can move onto the next problem. In the process, we fail to solve the core of each problem we are dealing with, and we remain continuously caught in the web of a never-ending cycle that makes it difficult to find any real solutions.

And the reality of our politics and leadership recruitment process, finds us dealing with people that complicate matters with their preference for self-promotion in place of team efforts at problem-solving. The competition to grab and maintain political bases and the craving to have personal signatures on every gesture from government, are taking the front burner, militating against the building of systems and processes and further distracting us from solving existing problems by creating new ones.

Instead of building systems to solve problems, our leaders have preferred to approach our problems with linear vision, wanting everything to be seen to be done by them or not done at all, only seeing the problem that lies directly in front of them and blocking the possibilities that lie within the problem. As such, they never see the totality of what the problem represents; that it can actually serve as an enabler to improve existing best practices, protocols, and standard operating procedures for continuous improvement and opportunities previously unseen in our communities and constituencies.

For example, instead of stuffing a few notes into envelopes and distributing on camera to constituents as bursary, why not commit such funds into starting properly managed education trust funds open to public donations and scrutiny as well as oversight government to resuscitate our scholarship/student grants boards?

Instead of waiting for phone calls from desperate sick constituents asking for medical bills, why not kick-start a subsidized health insurance scheme for vulnerable members of our communities? A pilot scheme can begin with even a hundred subscribers, mostly women of child bearing age, and expand the net from there.

Instead of giving handouts to people to pay rents, can we begin to consider alternative and affordable mass housing options and models for our communities?

Can we begin to build functional innovation and entrepreneurship clubs and centers in our constituencies and ensure they function by challenging them to produce implementable targets?

These are actually things that require discipline to do, and they tarry before maturation, and politicians generally believe that such things don’t help them win the next election. Yet in the long run, it is the mushrooming of these structures that will solve society’s problems on a sustainable basis.

The only person I know who ever commanded his followers to cast their burdens on him was Jesus. But he was not voted into power. The people we vote cannot solve our problems by themselves. They solve them through systems and structures. That’s why they haven’t been able to solve our problems, as it were. They are to midwife the building of structures systems and processes that will perpetually solve our problems.

When I say structures, I am not referring to skyscrapers. I mean the very simple steps like just the first phone call to an insurance company of your choice now, to inquire what will be the first step to getting 200 people from your constituency on their health insurance policy instead of waiting to send them hospital bills when they become ill.

Yours sincerely,

Citizen Agba Jalingo, Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, is a Cross Riverian and writes in from Lagos.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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