The traditional budget process is inadequate for dealing with the complex problems that local governments are asked to deal with, such as degradation of the natural environment, encouraging economic opportunity, re-evaluating how public safety is provided, racial disparities, drug addiction, and more.
The traditional budget and planning process is ill-equipped to deal with these kinds of complex problems because complex problems tend to exhibit characteristics that confound traditional planning and budgeting. In this article, we will show why complex problems frustrate traditional budgeting and planning. We will explain the benefits of taking the time to understand problems more deeply. We will outline the principles for designing a process to define problems more deeply. Finally, we will illustrate a process to define problems before solutions.