Problem solving

by Rus Slater and Hans Vaagenes

Common questions

  1. Wouldn’t I be better off getting on with actually solving this problem, rather than trying to find out about some long-winded ‘method’?
  2. No one has ever had this problem, or even this kind of problem, before, so I’m just going to have to go my own way, aren’t I?
  3. Can’t I just find out how someone else solved a similar problem and save myself from having to re-invent the wheel?

 

1. Wouldn’t I be better off getting on with actually solving this problem, rather than trying to find out about some long-winded ‘method’?

If your problem really is that simple then, then yes, just go solve it....but

  • The ‘method’ and tools suggested here aren’t that long-winded
  • Your problem may look simple, but there may be more to the problem and the solution than meets the eye; this topic will help you to be sure
  • ‘Ready, Aim, Fire!’ or ‘Fire! Ready? Aim?’

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2. No one has ever had this problem, or even this kind of problem, before, so I’m just going to have to go my own way, aren’t I?

It may be that your problem and your circumstances are unique, so your solution will be unique and totally new. This topic doesn’t provide solutions to specific problems; it provides a methodical way of reaching a solution in which you can have confidence. It does this by helping you to

  • Define your problem More...
  • Identify what you want to achieve More...
  • Use some tried and trusted tools along the way More...
  • Ensure that you aren’t going to upset any apple-carts or rock any boats More...

3. Can’t I just find out how someone else solved a similar problem and save myself from having to re-invent the wheel?

You may be able to solve your specific problem this way and, sure, no one wants to waste effort re-inventing the wheel. But, let’s face it: there are lots of different types of wheel, each with different strengths and weaknesses. If you read this topic first, you have a good chance of not trying to fit a penny-farthing wheel to a racing car!

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