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WHERE DOES IT WORK?

The methodology can be used on any project, at any scale without having to know all the details

Let’s examine what it would take to eliminate lead contamination in drinking water using Structured Speculation.

In the United States, it is generally expected that the water that flows from the faucets in our homes will not be harmful to drink.

If people on the street are asked whether lead in drinking water is okay, they will likely answer no – even if they don’t specifically know why.

In truth, lead is a toxic heavy metal, widely understood to be harmful for human ingestion, even in small amounts.

But as for the discussion of why some drinking water contains harmful substances (lead included), and what should be done about it, fingers start to point.

  • Whose fault is it?
  • Who’s not doing their job?
  • Who can we blame?
  • Who’s going to fix it?
  • Why hasn’t anyone done anything?!

While it’s unlikely that anyone is advocating in favor of deliberately adding lead to drinking water, the fact remains, there are numerous communities in the United States whose drinking water contains unsafe levels of this hazardous material.

As this blame game continues, communities continue to divide. People report feeling less and less connected as a society and increasingly powerless to make a difference.

Worst of all, the debate does nothing to address the actual issue at hand!

However, at this stage it is not important to know why the water is contaminated, who is responsible for cleaning it up, or what to blame for it being there in the first place.

We just don’t want lead in drinking water.

Whenever a desired outcome can be agreed upon, there is no risk in speculating what it would take to make it happen.

And since there is lead in water today, and there does appear to be support for eliminating it, this idea can be used as basis for a Structured Solution.


Solving an issue of this magnitude will doubtless have many complex factors at play, many barriers to remove, and many conditions to be determined.

Structured Speculation makes it possible to determine a path of actions to this outcome by asking:

“What did it take for drinking water to be lead-free?”

This question is a starting point to freely consider, share, and call forth everything that would be required. Because we state the issue as resolved already, this question is posed hypothetically.

Any of the reasons something currently isn’t happening or won’t work right now are also assumed to have been resolved.

Importantly, it’s not necessary to know the specifics of how something happened at the beginning.

The point of the inquiry is to aggregate the conditions which would hypothetically be necessary for the fulfillment of the goal.

This process continues until all necessary components for success have been identified. These components can include resources (people, money), organizations (government agencies, non-profits), technologies (solar panels), and more.

A condition is broken down into specific actions, accountabilities, and initiatives. These are categorized, cross-referenced, and further broken down if possible.

Sharing ideas helps identify opportunities for collaboration between organizations working towards similar goals by addressing different aspects of an issue simultaneously.

Soliciting feedback from a wide sampling of parties may reveal new ways of approaching an issue by discovering connections between seemingly unrelated problems. Collaboration provides additional insight into how one problem might contribute directly or indirectly towards another problem being solved more easily.

The result is a comprehensive plan to achieve the desired outcome, (in this case lead free drinking water), that can be shared with others who may be interested in contributing their time or resources to help make it happen!

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