First Step In Problem Solving

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Sometimes, implementing the solution does give us real benefits (that’s why we thought the solution was attractive)…but it still leaves us with the original problem. The reason we apply solutions that don’t work for the problem is that we often don’t spend enough time on the first step of problem-solving: Getting an accurate description of the problem.

I don’t say “a description” of the problem because, quite frankly, that’s not achievable.

Billstein, Libeskind and Lott have adopted these problem solving steps in their book "A Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers (The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co.).

They are based on the problem-solving steps first outlined by George Polya in 1945.

All of us have solved a symptom without curing the real disease.

Once you've constructed a full list of hypotheses that could solve all the issues, you need to prioritize your efforts.

As you break the problem down and identify all the possible issues, your odds of finding the true root cause skyrocket.

On the other side, you've got fixed-cost, variable-cost, and semi-variable-cost issues.

I suppose this is too obvious to mention, but: There’s no point in having a solution for a problem unless it’s the solution for the problem you’re facing.

Unfortunately, when we see an attractive solution, we often implement it without checking to see if it’s the solution for the problem we actually have.

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