I want to talk about a concept that I find incredibly powerful when it comes to understanding the challenges we face as individuals, organizations, and societies. It's a concept that was made popular by Ronald Heifetz, a renowned leadership expert, and it's all about two types of problems: technical and adaptive.

So, what are these two types of problems, and why do they matter? Let's start with technical problems. These are the kinds of problems that have clear and well-defined solutions. They are often concrete and tangible, and can be solved by applying existing knowledge and expertise. Examples of technical problems include fixing a broken machine, solving a mathematical equation, or developing a new software application.

The interesting thing about technical problems is that they are relatively easy to solve - as long as you have the right tools and expertise. If you don't know how to fix a broken machine, you can consult a manual or a professional mechanic. If you don't know how to solve a mathematical equation, you can consult a textbook or a tutor. Technical problems are all about finding the right answers, and once you have those answers, the problem is solved.

Now, let's contrast that with adaptive problems. These are the kinds of problems that don't have clear and well-defined solutions. They are often complex and ambiguous, and require a different kind of thinking and approach. Examples of adaptive problems include managing organizational change, navigating political polarization, or addressing climate change.

The interesting thing about adaptive problems is that they require us to change our thinking, behavior, or systems. They require us to question our assumptions, values, and beliefs, and to explore new and unfamiliar territory. Adaptive problems are all about finding new questions, not just answers, and once you have those questions, the work has just begun.

So why does this matter? Well, the reality is that most of the challenges we face today are adaptive problems. They are complex and ambiguous, and require us to think and act in new ways. Yet, we often approach these challenges as if they were technical problems. We look for the right answers, and we assume that once we find those answers, the problem will be solved. But that's not how adaptive problems work.

To solve adaptive problems, we need to be willing to embrace the discomfort and uncertainty that comes with exploring new territory. We need to be willing to question our assumptions and beliefs, and to learn from our failures and mistakes. We need to be willing to collaborate with people who have different perspectives and experiences, and to find common ground even when we disagree.

In short, to solve adaptive problems, we need to be adaptive ourselves. We need to be willing to change and grow, to experiment and innovate, and to keep pushing forward even when the path ahead is unclear.

So, my challenge to you is this: the next time you're facing a challenge, ask yourself whether it's a technical problem or an adaptive problem. If it's a technical problem, go ahead and find the right answers - that's what expertise is for. But if it's an adaptive problem, be willing to embrace the discomfort and uncertainty that comes with exploring new territory. Be willing to learn and grow, and to find new questions that can lead you to new solutions.