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History

Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Map out relevant events.

Find manifestations of the problem.

What are the major events that happened because of the problem or which caused the problem?

Look for the highs and lows. Look for peak levels.

What have been successful and failed initiatives? Should these be added as noteworthy events?

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Focus on the actual events, the hard data and what happened. Analyzing the causal relations is done in the next section.

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

This sub section contains noteworthy events or incidents. These are typically events we believe changed the course of history and were pivotal in the unfolding of the current situation.

Some events may be disruptive events leading to the problem.

The events help us to understand the history leading up to the problem.

The events can also be used to present a story of the problem. Stories helps to communicate the problem and get the audience's attention.

History helps us learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid them in the future.

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What are some important events in the build-up of this problem?

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Add new event

Add a new point in time when something significant happened related to this problem.

  • Make sure it is relevant to the problem.
  • It should be an event or happening that altered the course of time.
  • The event should be something known that people mention or talk about.


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For online sources that does not have page numbers. Use a paragraph number, or cite the heading and the number of paragraphs following it.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Think about the situation before this problem was even known as a problem. Compare the current situation with what were years and even decades ago.

  • What has gradually changed over time?
    • Are there changes in learning, diffusion, adoption of knowledge?
    • What are some paradigm changes and cultural shifts that have taken place?
    • Are there changes in perceptions and intentions among groups?
    • How about economic development and competition?
    • Are there changes to civil rights? How about law and regulations.
  • What has changed outside of the problem area?
  • What was different before?

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

This sub section is used to describe the evolution of the problem and its environment with a long term perspective.

This long term view can help us to put the problem in context and get a more nuanced understanding.

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What has changed over time?

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With the onset of the industrial revolution it was realized that the military and economic might of nations were dependent on both the body size and strength of their soldiers and workers. Increasing the average body mass index from what is now considered underweight to what is now the normal range played a significant role in the development of industrialized societies. Height and weight thus both increased through the 19th century in the developed world. During the 20th century, as populations reached their genetic potential for height, weight began increasing much more than height, resulting in obesity.
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Add new change text

Add a description of a gradual change in the internal or external environment of the problem.

  • What has evolved over the years?
  • What has slowly shifted or evolved that has contributed to the problem?
  • What has changed outside of the problem area?

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

  • Look for prior decisions that can have resulted in lock-ins.
  • Look for prior network effects that made something go viral and created a trend that was hard to reverse.

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History matters. Where we are today is a result of what has happened in the past.

Path dependence is when the starting point and 'accidental' events have significant effects on future. For example; random events that disrupt the ongoing course can have irreversible consequences.

Changes in the past may have considerable ramifications on the present and future, and this can make it extremely hard to reverse the present situation.

This effect is not the same as the butterfly effect but is somewhat similar.

Suggested reading

What happened in the past that is heavily constraining or influencing further developments?

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The government has subsidized food production and in particular corn in the last 5 decades or so in order to secure food production and prevent famines. This has led to very efficient production of corn syrup which is now included in a wide range of processed foods. Corn syrup is extremely high in calories and therefor contributes to obesity epidemic. So the historical political decisions to subsidize corn production has built a gigantic food system that is now very hard to redesign without system wide implications.
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Add new path dependency

Add a text that describes how decisions one faces today are limited by the decisions that was made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant.


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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Try to put the problem situation into an historical context.

  • How has things changed leading up to the situation?
  • How have behaviors and beliefs changed over time?
  • How has individuals viewed themselves and how have they viewed collective aspirations and ideals?
  • How has issues of the problem been perceived in previous cultures?

Watch out for

Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

This sub section is for writing a story of the problem. This helps us understand how we got to where we are now.

Based on what we now know about past events and causes we can now piece together the evolution of system. What changed over time, and why and how did that shape the current situation?

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What is a good historical narrative that describes the evolution of the problem?

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There has been a steady increase in obesity since the 60'. People do not notice something that is changing slowly over generations. The increase in weight in individuals do not happen over night. People slowly get obese over many year. Human evolution has hardwired our brains to focus on current threats (such as attacking tigers) rather than things that gradually change over many years. The science linking weight, diet and health were just being developed in the same period between the 60' and until now so the medical community could not anticipate the threat that was growing.
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Add new story

Add a text about the history of this problem.

  • This is a story-like summary to provide an assessment of why things evolved the way it did.

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