Defining the solution

IDevice Icon The Solution
We often think of "solving a problem" in the sense of making it go away, so that the problem no longer exists. This indeed is one kind of solution, but it is not the only kind. Some problems cannot be eliminated entirely: we are never likely to eliminate trash, or the wear on automobile tires, or the occurrence of illness. We can, however, create solutions or treatments that will make each of these problems less harmful.

So it is helpful when thinking about a problem to define it in a way that some goals or parameters will be set that allow us to know when the solution is reached. Sometimes the goals might be that the problem is entirely eliminated and sometimes the goals will be to treat the effects of the problem.

There are two basic approaches to defining solutions:

Stop It Cures the problem. This might be in the form of preventing it from occurring or re-occurring, eliminating it all together or reducing it to point where it is no longer defined as a problem.
Mop IT
Focuses on the effects of the problem. One can treat the damage, tolerate it, or redirect it.
(Robert Harris, 1998)

IDevice Question Icon Stop It or Mop It

Read the following solutions and decide whether it is a "Stop It" or "Mop It" solution approach.


Cleaning up water caused by a leaking water heater and placing toweling and spill tray.

Stop It
Mop It

Placing traffic signals at busy traffic intersections.
Stop It
Mop It

Interdiction of drugs at the border.
Stop It
Mop It.

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