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| 1 minute read

Upstream thinking

There is a well quoted adage in public health, about upstream thinking:-

You and a friend are by a river when you notice a child drowning. You both dive in and save the child. Immediately however another struggling child appears and another, then yet another. You and your friend are barely keeping up with the crisis, when suddenly, your friend swims back to the river bank. You indignantly ask, "where on earth are you going?" Your friend responds, "I am going upstream, to tackle whoever is throwing these children into the water."

The story serves as a metaphor, for the importance of identifying practical solutions, to prevent problems, in favour of just continually reacting to them. 

Hailing from the software industry and as a relatively new recruit to Passle, I have observed how the lean and very focused team at Passle, are natural upstream thinkers. Not only in terms of how we continually grow, evolve, and design our offerings, to align with our clients' needs but in smaller, equally important ways, like the mindset with which we approach a day to day challenge or roadblock. 

The key benefits of upstream thinking are:-

  • Increased efficiency and cost reduction 
  • Avoidance and or removal of siloed thinking and ways of working 
  • A happier team who achieve and deliver  

In summary, doing a great job of solving symptoms is one thing but to quote Dave Trott, "seeing beyond the 'hypnosis of complexity' to leverage clues and identify, then address root causes, inevitably serves as a more fruitful endeavor".

Real creativity is the ability to solve a problem you can’t solve by getting upstream of it and changing it into a problem you can solve. You can only do this by the application of radical common sense and ruthless simplicity.


e2e, best practice, leadership, people
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