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  • Writer's pictureDavid Fiore


Updated: Oct 4, 2017

Problem Solvers

Problem solvers answer alarms. They come with a set of tools they know will address the standard list of problems they usually encounter. For fire fighters, that’s axes, hoses, ladders and water. For plumbers, it’s snakes, plungers, wrenches and pipe fittings. You get my idea.

Problem solvers apply those tools and processes that have worked best in the past. And since they’ve seen many of the same problems, their tools and processes are usually well-evolved and quite adequate. For problem solvers, failure is the ultimate loss.

Problem solvers’ goals are often to address the issue quickly, effectively, and to move on to the next problem. They’re heroes.


Dreamers challenge convention and ask, “what if.” They use every single tool available to them from any industry if that tool provides a usefulness in achieving their dream. Sometimes they have to invent their own tools and develop new procedures, because asking “what if” requires that you not overly rely on the tried and true.

Dreamers rely on learnings from the past, but because they’re after something new, they know they will encounter things they hadn’t seen, and failure is a very real possibility. But dreamers know they must risk failure, and learn from it, to eventually succeed.

Dreamers’ goals are to create a better world than the one that exists today. And their job will never be done because the world can always improve. They’re heroes too.

Why “And” and not “Vs”

Note the heading of this piece. Every great solution needs a good mix of problem solving and dreaming. We need to know what’s possible and to try for what is not. We need to rely on experience as we create new ones. The best solutions are a healthy mix of both approaches, and it takes experience to know how much of each you must apply.

The world is full of examples of people who were both dreamers and problem solvers: Martin Luther King, Jr, Marie Curie, the Wright Brothers, Orson Welles. Inside each of them I expect there was equal part problem solver and dreamer, one side keeping the other inspired, honest, and moving forward.

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