Zoe is a blogger for Psychology Today (PT), and each week we’ll be sharing her PT blog posts here. Enjoy! 

It seems appropriate to launch my new blog, Becoming a Solutionary, by defining the word solutionary and talking about why it’s so important to become one. A solutionary is someone who is able to identify inhumane and unsustainable systems, then develop solutions that are healthy and just for people, animals, and the environment.

“Solutionary” is not synonymous with “problem-solver.”

Some problem-solvers might be able to solve an engineering challenge in order to extract fossil fuels more cost-effectively, but that wouldn’t make them solutionaries.

Solutionaries are motivated by compassion and justice and driven to cultivate their creative-, critical-, strategic- and systems-thinking skills in order to address the underlying causes of entrenched and interconnected problems.

Solutionary is not just a noun; it’s also an adjective. As an adjective, it means: pertaining to or characterized by solving problems in a strategic, comprehensive manner that strives not to harm one group while helping another.

It’s not easy to devise solutionary solutions to complex challenges. If it were, we would have already solved many of our entrenched problems.

It takes research and investigation to understand the root causes, belief systems, and systemic structures that cause persistent problems. And it usually takes collaboration and divergent thinking to develop meaningful solutions.

Good deeds are not the same as solutionary solutions.

psychology today