The way through a gnarly challenge may not seem clear at first but working to grasp the structure of the challenge is often the best way of seeing a path through. As a number of problem-solving researchers have found, “at the least, problems must be deeply analyzed before an insight solution can be achieved.”4 Writing about how hard design problems are solved, industrial-design specialist Kees Dorst nicely described zeroing in on the heart of a difficulty:
“Experienced designers can be seen to engage with a novel problem situation by searching for the central paradox, asking themselves what it is that makes the problem so hard to solve. They only start working toward a solution once the nature of the core paradox has been established to their satisfaction.”5
The skilled strategist recognizes the heart of a challenge as the thing blocking an easy solution. Attention is drawn to it because it hints at leverage—that if we could only just move the keystone, the whole wall can be breached.