Problem Solving

Solving problems has evolved as our technology has changed. It's now more important than ever to solve the right problem in the right way.

Below are a set of common methods I use to solve problems that can be generalized for many types of problems across a variety of disciplines. I just happen to use them for consulting and building software.

The numbers align to the book "101 Things I learned in Product Design School" but have been added to with additional notes that help to contextualize the understanding.

The apparent problem probably isn't the real problem.SVG depicting that: Visible symptoms need to be reframed to truely understand the root cause.

I love this one. It's too easy to get caught up and focused on the problems we can see. Are we fighting the fire we can see or looking to try to track down the person starting all of these fires?!

If a problem is too abstract, ask what. If a problem is too specific, ask why.SVG depicting that: Exploration of too abstract is to look at what has been done or what evidence exists. To explore too specific, is it specific to the environment? Why is the change needed? Why is this now a problem?

Getting blindsided by new information at the end of some work is easy when we jump into solutioning too quickly. To make sure all factors are involved and at the right level it might be good to check both specifics and abstractions.

Need is a verb.SVG depicting that: People don't need a water bottle. They need to drink water on the move.

This sort of relates to a lot of things but the essence is the same. When you're solving a problem for someone be sure that you know their problem or what they're trying to do to ensure that they can solve their problem.

If we don't understand the job they're trying to do, we likely can't solve the problem in a satisfactory way.

We Don't Sell Saddles Here is a reference to the linked memo from Steward Butterfield, CEO of Slack.

An insight is more than an observationSVG depicting that: Observations are facts ("ball is falling"). Awareness is a fact plus an expectation ("... and will bounce lightly"). An insight is a fact, an expectation, and the recognition of it's significance ("... because the floor is soft which is limiting our distance.").

When it comes time to share your discoveries with others, don't look to be rewarded for observations or awareness. Insights are truly what help make decisions.

Taking this one step further, I see multiple insights coming together to synthesize into concepts or models.