("Duh," you might be saying. I know, but it's amazing how often we don't do this.)
To me, crux and root together capture the essence of this approach, because their multiple and complementary meanings cover many of the aspects of truly understanding a human problem as well as fully resolving it. They're pretty amazing, actually. Here's what I found at various dictionary sites (proper attribution is at the end of this post).
Crux is the essential point, the critical moment. It can be what resolves an outcome. Paradoxically it’s also an apparently unsolvable question, or the central point that requires resolution. Its meaning goes all the way back to “cross,” which reminds me that you can’t solve the problem without understanding the intersection of the many issues, emotions, and relationships that are involved.
Root can mean the essential core, like crux. But it’s also the primary source, or the origin. It’s as well the underlying support, or simply the lowest part of something, the base. As a verb it can mean to establish or settle firmly or to have a base. Seemingly the opposite, it also refers to when one discovers and brings to light. And finally and delightfully, it’s about cheering and otherwise giving moral support.
To elaborate, I’ve learned that the many challenges individuals, families, groups, and organizations face can’t be solved unless:
- you understand all the forces involved (global, local, political, historical, internal, personal, emotional etc.);
- you also understand where they intersect and how they interact;
- you’re willing to dig deep to find them all;
- you accept the findings of what the causes are, casting aside preconceptions and ego;
- you understand that the solution must be thoroughly implemented, and for organizations, they must be adopted institution-wide; and
- you accept that, most of the time, it takes a lot of hand holding and cheerleading to get there.
So this blog will examine the many ways the nonprofit, philanthropic, and civic communities can teach us how (or how not) to get to the Crux/Root of the problem – and of the solution.
I mixed and matched definitions from the following dictionary websites: