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Problem solving protocol (datasciencefromzero.com)
31 points by yaychay 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments

Reminds me of Feynman's Algorithm:

1. Write down the problem.

2. Think very hard.

3. Write down the answer.

I understand the article is genuinely trying to be helpful and I don't want to be too harsh, but it's unfortunately one of those areas where the specifics are way more important than general considerations.

>2. Think

I run into so many "IT" people that dont do that step at any stage. Google has made people lazy.

I think the article is trying to encourage you to realize there is a lot more practical steps you can do to map out the space of possible paths forward (which is of course also one way of making headway), than many people realize at first.

One way that often works for me:

1. Work very hard on the problem all day, no solution at sight. Looks like no solution exists.

2. Go home, eat, relax and go bed.

3. The successive morning go to work. You will able to solve the problem in half an hour.


Reminds me of David J. Agans' nine rules of debugging, from his Debugging book:

1. Understand the System

2. Make it Fail

3. Quit Thinking and Look

4. Divide and Conquer

5. Change One Thing at a Time

6. Keep an Audit Trail

7. Check the Plug

8. Get a Fresh View

9. If You Didn’t Fix it, It Ain’t Fixed

I wonder if problem solving is a teachable skill?

Most people in my industry are fairly good problem solvers, almost to a fault, sometimes when you tell someone about a problem you don't want it solved, you just want a little empathy.

However every one in a while I meet someone who is a terrible problem solver. It is like when they hit something they don't know they just give up. Honestly it is such a foreign way of thinking I have a hard time understanding them.

But the question is, is problem solving a teachable skill(what is the best way to go about teaching someone it?) or is it more like personality you have it or you don't.

I think problem solving mechanics or structure can be taught. Creativity in problem solving is probably less teachable.

For anything non-trivial, I think a process or structure for problem solving, knowing that you probably won't solve something on the first attempt and need iteration, and basic project coordination skills are needed. I think all of this can be taught.

I think there is a lot more in common across fields than people are willing to admit. There are different techniques and language used to accomplish the same thing, but it's all in service of the same underlying goal.

>I think problem solving mechanics or structure can be taught.

I'd be very interested in seeing a course like this. I know many people that need it.

I like that most of that protocol is multi-scale—it applies to one-day, one-person efforts as well as to tasks requiring dozens of people for many years.

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