The Tao Of Impossible Dreams

Spend a lot of money doing little good or spend less money and do a lot of good? This TED presentation from Bjorn Lomborg is from 2005 but his exhortations have yet to be heard in the halls of the world’s governing bodies…human nature being what it is we’re not sure they ever will.

Prioritizing solutions instead of problems is shown by Lomborg to be a prudent strategy for attacking problems. However, business spends billions on dubious solutions that ultimately return little good—the direct result of prioritizing problems. We like to think we’re doing good by prioritizing our problems but it’s an illusion. Why?

There’s something about the human psyche that leads people to pursue impossible dreams but in the arena of problems the Tao of the impossible involves a lot of money doing little good. Lomborg focuses on solutions to big societal problems (malaria in Africa) but prioritizing solutions could surely be practiced wherever limited resources confront a set of problems. Especially in business. And especially in I/T projects.

Today we can identify problems from cosmic-scale to nano-scale but when it comes to solutions—are we simply hardwired to pursue impossible dreams?


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