Problem Solving 101: Eveyone needs some inspriation!
Problem-solving... This is something we all do every day. Some problems are not earth shattering ("when will I buy groceries?") and others have impacts that can change the way you live ("I lost my job and need to find a new one"). But the act of problem-solving itself is not (usually) something we learn directly as a skill. Yes, we do learn to solve problems, but most of us tend to "discover" problem-solving in the course of solving real problems. This means much of problem-solving learning is ad hoc and we miss out on the discovery of tools that can help us through the problem-solving thinking processes.
Problem-solving 101, by Ken Watanabe, a former McKinsey & Company consultant, is a short book that goes a long way toward helping everyone learn a few basic problem-solving tools and techniques. Ken shares several stories in which problem-solving tools and techniques are introduced. One example problem: the Mushroom Lovers rock band wants to drive up attendance at their shows. Ken lays out how the band seeks to identify the root cause of the low attendance and develop a series of hypothesis and solutions. While sharing the story of the band, Ken introduces techniques and tools like logic trees, action prioritization matrices, and problem-solving design plans.
The the book can be read in about an hour or two. When you are finished, you will have several methods that you can immediately use in any situation. The stories Ken shares are entertaining and you can relate to main characters' real problems. The book's graphic design enhances the stories and makes comprehending the concepts easy.
One final note: This is the type of book you will re-read and be reminded of some of the practices and skills needed to solve problems. I will have this book on my desk next to books I regularly re-read: The Mythical Man Month, Orbiting the Giant Hair Ball, and The Pursuit of Wow!