Problem Solving

purpose finding what problem to solve: hardest part for some you should solve problems that are interesting interest makes you care feynman quote, and link. if you dont care then the solution will be bad and helping someone else should ultimate make someone happier context each problem as a part of a bigger one a problem definition from a frustration empathy a problem solution contributing to a better life whatever that may be to you different words to describe solving different kind of problems: design development science engineering management art if proven algorithms exist it’s a solved problem and can be looked up such as trades, line worker, supervisor, front-line services, problem solving is the work of a pioneer, exploring

definition A problem is the difference between the current state and the desired state

not really a problem until you've defined the two states, or at least the two states are obvious.
  e.g. i dont like the way i look in the mirror
  e.g. let's start our own business
  e.g. ugh I have to go to the dentist
  e.g. fix your attitude first
good examples
  e.g. I want to look more like fitness people in magazines
  e.g. I wish I could solve problems that I care about, not what some boss cares about
  e.g. I wish my time and money would be better organized so that I'm prepared for unexpected events
  e.g. I want you to be more considerate of my feelings when you see me so that you know to avoid unnecessary conflicts   distinction between frustration and problem definition
frustration is emotion
problem definition is the beginning of solving   it's important because specific implementation to a general problem

micro/macro A problem can be large or small driving a car fixing a car fixing yourself being happy making other people happy making everyone happy

after understanding purpose and context

the process problem definition solution proposition solution implementation solution evaluation

aka see think do review

more like science or math

mathematical method: understanding/analysis/synthesis/review scientific method: characterization/hypothesis/experiment/confirm business management cycle: assessment/planning/execution/review

bad scripting someone goes into a room, or a group of people go in, then they come out saying “We’ve found the solution!” most systems cannot be modeled deterministically “the solution” is a fallacy unless the problem is

problem definition frustration must precede problem sometimes words are not enough often skipped must precede solution get buy-in from others before any investment into exploration a way to manage scope in teams

solution proposition

if a solution does not contribute to a problem then it is not aligned to the problem definition if this proposed solution comes out of nowhere, define a separate problem a list of solutions “experience” helps with only this list, experience does not count for anywhere else in process will never be both necessary and sufficient The poetry of a blank sheet of paper, with infinite possibilities brainstorming can help, but needs to be fenced to direct no bad or stupid ideas, only irrelevant ones “creative” people don’t stop at the first viable solution keep going until they can’t immediately think of another viable solution

stuck? tried everything? process to getting unstuck step away if upset, the quality of solution will decrease if that doesn’t work try going back to step 1, or recruiting help empty your mind, stare at it, do nothing.

insert quote zamm about screw: 

  Thoughts about the screw as combined rigidness and adhesiveness and about its special helical interlock might lead naturally to solutions of impaction and use of solvents. That is one kind of Quality track. Another track may be to go to the library and look through a catalog of mechanic’s tools, in which you might come across a screw extractor that would do the job. Or to call a friend who knows something about mechanical work. Or just to drill the screw out, or just burn it out with a torch. or you might just, as a result of your meditative attention to the screw, come up with some new way of extracting it that has never been thought of before and that beats all the rest and is patentable and makes you a millionaire five years from now. There’s no predicting what’s on that Quality track. The solutions all are simple...after you have arrived at them. But they’re simple only when you know already what they are.	

solution implementation often the easiest part before implementing on the whole thing try implementing on a small subset or try similar, cheaper solutions to approximate debugging environment, git, be sure to be able to revert back to the original state so that other solutions are

solution evaluation back to step 2


iteration means keep trying

fail fast means make efficient experiments

after problem solving soft rigorous process sandwiched between empathy and the good life if enough other people have the same problem, sharing is considerate