Peter Stuifzand

Four obstacles to thinking clearly

These are four obstacles to clear thinking.

Reality is complex

Reality is complex and you need complex solutions to solve problems.

Eli Goldratt defined the Principle of Inherit Simplicity. This means that reality is inheritly simple. Because of this simplicity, conflicts can be resolved using the following steps.

  1. Clarify the conflict
  2. Surface the assumptions
  3. Challenge the wrong assumptions

There is a relation with shadow work. In shadow work you should also keep conflicts in your mind and try to merge them. One way to find ways to solve conflicts is to find assumptions and try to find where your thinking is wrong.

Looking at assumptions is also what you need to do in Rational Emotive Theory (RET). It helps to find the places where you are making mistakes in your thinking.

Finding conflicts

Conflicts are a given

Conflicts exist and can’t be easily solved. You have to life with conflicts.

Conflicts are a part of life. Goldratt explains that all conflicts can be solved.

Blaming other people

Conflicts exist because of other people.

People take action because they have goals that conflict with your own goals. And because you can’t change these people, they are evil! Of course this isn’t true people take action because they have to or need to.

For example the problem could be that the people only have access to local information and can’t see the global picture. When you take action on local information, it can be very well that you are in conflict with a better action based on global information.

For example a worker wants to be productive. So when the work is done, he finds something else to do. In the case where you only have local information this is the best you can do. When you look at the global information you can see that producing something that you don’t need is waste. The produced items need to be stored and perhaps will never be sold. At this point it would be better for the worker to just wait.

An example when developing software for clients is that when you are paid an hourly rate it seems better to work more hours. When there was agreed to only work ten hours in a certain period, all work above those ten hours need to be renegotiated. Perhaps a different client could be more easily worked for because that client has unspent hours. This information is also not local.

Thinking you already know

When you already know everything that it becomes difficult to improve a situation.

When you think you already know, you will make assumptions. Assumptions don’t have to be wrong, but they can be. When you know which assumptions you make, you will be able to spot when your assumptions does not hold.

When you are humble you will take in more information, which will help you understand the situation. When you are closed of you won’t take in the information, and say that there are no more solutions. You are stuck.

When you already know, you won’t see the problem. Even when you see the problem you won’t see all parts of clearly and even then you won’t see all solutions. You can this works both ways.


  • GOLDRATT, E. M. & GOLDRATT-ASHLAG, E. (2010). The Choice.
© 2023 Peter Stuifzand