What Is the Problem?

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Probably my all-time favorite scene from a movie comes from Moneyball, not only because the scene has incredible meaning behind it but also that I can relate to it because of the line of work I am in currently.

For a little context, Billy Bean (Brad Pitt) is a general manager of a baseball team which lost its three best players and in this scene the scouting team is discussing potential replacements for their ex-stars in a somewhat odd fashion given all the talks about certain player’s appearances and their girlfriend choices instead of focusing on their baseball abilities and potential impact on the team.

“Guys, you’re just talking la la lalalala,” says Bean while interrupting everyone, “like this is business as usual. It is not.” The scouts feeling offended by Bean’s disrespectful gesture respond that they are trying to solve a problem there. To which Bean responds that like that they are not even looking at the problem, “we are fully aware of the problem,” says the general scouting manager. “Okay, what is the problem?” asks Bean and suddenly everyone goes quiet. A room full of grown men with years of experience in scouting somehow have no answer to a question they were discussing earlier, having no clue what their problem was. Bean goes on to explain what he believes the problem is but that is not the point.

The point here is that sometimes we look for answers to the wrong questions. Without identifying the problem, we are not even looking at the problem, so what is the point of trying to find a solution for a problem we are unaware of?

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