The Nature of Problems and Opportunities

Some of the most consequential challenges faced by humanity possess common properties. They are:
  • Complex. They are the result of many distinct causes that produce multiple outcomes.
  • Layered. That is, they result from the interaction of systems that exist at the level of cells, individuals and organisms, groups, and institutions.
  • Multi-dimensional. They cannot be fully understood or addressed by any single discipline or perspective. As a result, they are:
  • Difficult to describe and theorize. This encourages researchers to break off a piece of the problem or opportunity, rather than grapple with the true complexity of the issue.
  • The product of human behaviors that can, in principle, be addressed via behavioral change.