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Problem Solving

79 STASHED IDEAS

Antoine de Saint Exupéry

"It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

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@preston_k

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Problem Solving

Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

"Simplicity is a great virtue but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better."

We prefer complexity over simplicity

People tend to prefer complex solutions over plain ones.

  • Complexity can make products look more impressive - and marketers know how to take advantage of it by projecting authority and expertise.
  • Complex processes can give the illusion of productivity while really delaying decision-making.

Simple thinking can lead to better plans, communication, and execution.

  • The KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) makes simplicity a key goal in design.
  • Less is more. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe always repeated this saying to stress the importance of extreme simplicity.
  • Simplify, then add lightness. A leader in the minimalist movement and founder of the Lotus Cars, Colin Chapman, urged his designers to simplify, then add lightness.

We associate complexity with expertise, innovation, and authority.

Complexity is often smoke and mirrors. Marketers are aware of the allure of complexity and will exploit our complexity bias by using jargon to impress rather than to inform customers. For example: “Utilising a Vita-Ciment® Complex, Kérastase Resistance Bain Force Architecte, is a strengthening shampoo that has been specially formulated to cleanse and fortify damaged hair at erosion levels 1-2”

While simplicity can lead to innovative thinking, complexity is often used to impress rather than to help.

Complexity is not all bad. Some complexity is desirable. When things are too simple, it is often boring. The ideal level of complexity is a moving target - the more expert we become, the more complexity we prefer. We can find a good balance by asking if this complexity level adds to the experience or overcomplicates it.

For many people, the job you were hired to do initially can evolve over time as your career advances. You may start with a technical job and later become a manager.

Despite the change in responsibilities, your shift in routines may happen slower, resulting in being less effective.

We find old routines comfortable

Habits are comfortable. When we're stressed out, we tend to fall back on our old habits for two reasons:

  • The brain likes to know what is going to happen next. Routines are situations that have occurred often enough that you know exactly how events will unfold.
  • The brain wants to spend the least amount of energy on any particular activity. The less time you spend thinking about something, the less energy your brain uses on it.

Old routines can get in the way when we interact with technology at work.

Companies develop software platforms to automate processes that used to take hours when done by hand. Shifting out of our routine can help to automate many other tasks we still do by hand.

It is important to reevaluate your routines every few months to find outdated routines.

  • Ask your colleagues about their favourite software tools, so you are aware of other ways to address issues.
  • Track the amount of time you spend on important tasks at work, and see if the time is sufficient for the importance of those tasks.
  • Look at the elements of your position that are critical for success. Then look at your routines to see if they support those goals.

Some routines worked really well when you started them, but they have grown into a problem over time.

A classic example is email behaviour. People develop habits around email when they only received a few important emails. Over time, you may get more emails, but the habits you developed early on can get in your way of getting substantial work done.

Because routines feel so good, we may continue with them even when they don't serve our needs very well. Even if we could solve problems more simply, we will stick with the more complicated routine instead of noticing an easier solution.

Every once in a while, we need to take a step back from our routines and ask if they allow us to function effectively. By switching up routines, we can become more efficient.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”

Albert Einstein

“Compounding is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.”

When we improve a little on a daily basis, big things occur over time. We need to stop focusing on radical, sudden improvements, as quick-fixes aren’t lasting anyway.

Consistent and sustainable gains are only achieved by small, incremental improvements on a daily basis.

Stephen Covey

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”

Kaizen, which means continuous improvement in Japanese was originally developed by Depression-Era management gurus in the US. The Japanese embraced the idea of improving and thriving in small steps, as opposed to working on a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal).

The long, hard process looks difficult but is actually easy if we just focus on the small step that needs to be taken today, and do that consistently.

  • We are never done improving ourselves. We need to do certain things daily to achieve and maintain our success. The first steps are not easy, but taking small actions is progress, while not taking any action isn’t.
  • Kaizen is about the 1 percent improvement that we can focus on, and those daily 1 percent improvements compound over time.
  • Initially the improvements may not be noticeable, but in a span of months or years, the breakthrough improvements will start to be visible.

Setting a goal is easy, just like marking a date on the calendar. The real challenge is always the willingness to accept what we need to do daily to achieve those goals.

We need to design a system that has to be practiced daily, as the commitment to a process provides the compound effect. Example: Learning should not be limited to college, but should be a lifelong system imbibed in your pursuit of knowledge, enriching your life and making you a better person.

The connection between walking and thinking
  • Walking changes our chemistry. The heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen to all the organs and the brain.
  • Walking promotes new connections between brain cells and increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region essential for memory)
  • Walking elevates levels of molecules that stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

Walking organizes our world around us. Writing organizes our thoughts.

In a forest, our brain must survey the surrounding environment, make a mental map of the world, choose a way forward and create that plan into a series of footsteps. In writing the brain has to review its own landscape, find a way through that mental terrain, and write down the resulting trail of thoughts.

Studies suggest that spending time in green spaces can renew the mental resources that get depleted in man-made environments.

A crowded intersection provides numerable and immediate stimulations for the mind, but a walk in a park allows our mind to drift casually from one sensory experience to another.

The way we move our bodies changes the nature of our thoughts. When we stroll, the pace of our feet fluctuates with our moods. We can change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking faster or by slowing down.

While we walk, our attention is free to wander. Studies have linked this mental state to innovative ideas.

The Motive

A simple fact like the motive for your business being profit or bottom-line oriented, or a genuine desire to help your customers, can be the reason for your success or failure.

Start Small and Solve Problems

While having a grand vision is great, demonstrating the essence of your idea and solving the core issues of customers, no matter how small, can put you in the path to success.

The problem-solving mindset is the way to succeed, instead of grand self-delusional plans.

Real Work

Entrepreneurship is a selfless endeavor. It is only when you genuinely are solving people’s problems, that you are going to win.

You will only make money if you really help your customers, not because you want to make money.

© Brainstash, Inc

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