The Coping Is Everything

Oct 8th, 2002 by Tony in QSM2

In analyzing what I see and hear in an organization, I try to avoid becoming ensnarled in the organization’s own definition of the problem. After all, if they understood the problem, they probably would have solved it already. I’m guided instead by Virginia Satir’s dictum:

The problem is nothing. The coping with the problem is everything.

I apply this dictum by looking for signs of incongruent coping. Incongruent coping strongly indicates a quality crisis because of the following dynamic:

  • Underlying every observed behaviour in a quality crisis is the quality problem
  • Because the quality problem is a systems problem, simple-minded solutions like adding large numbers of people will merely make the problem worse.
  • Long before we are consciously aware of the growth of a crisis, we are emotionally aware of it through the increasing stresses we feel.
  • Under emotional stress, we do not use our full intellectual power and instead resort to incongruent coping strategies to defend ourselves.
  • By observing these incongruent coping strategies, we can determine the scope and depth of the quality crisis. Coping strategies also direct us to what are likely to be the most effective interventions, based on what people are ignoring.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 2, Chapter 13

No Comments