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Graham A.



"I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it." -Frank Howard Clark ⁠





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Nov 4, 2020

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Public problem solvers

In these dark days, the world is full of profound and deepening problems. Some leaders realise the need to work differently to achieve their goals and impact the world.

Public problem-solvers possess a skill set that can be applied to any public problem for making measurable change. However, public problem solving is not yet a defined field. Some people use the term "social innovator" or "change agent."

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Problem Solving

7 skills every public problem solver needs


The Complexity Bias

Many of us prefer complicated solutions and explanations over simpler ones. This cognitive error is known as the Complexity Bias.

We don’t listen to simple, basic advice to be productive and healthy, like doing regular exercise or rising early every morning. Our mind gets attracted to complex procedures and ideas like intermittent fasting, keto diet, and other finicky solutions that dazzle us with their twisted ways.

Complexity Bias: Why We Overcomplicate Our Lives


A recent theory on forgetting states that everything we learn remains in storage inside our memory, but our ability to recall and retrieve that information fades if we do not practice fetching information.

How to Remember More of What You Learn with Spaced Repetition


Skilled improvisers are necessary

When you deal with a crisis, you need managers and employees that can think on their feet and act fast without first looking for an instruction manual. It means that you need skilled improvisers.

Capable improvisers will steer their companies through crises, paradigm shifts, technological breakthroughs and environmental disasters. But employee training programs seldom focus on becoming better improvisers, and hiring teams don't often screen for improvisation skills.

Improvisation Takes Practice


A popular view of self-control

There is a view that sees self-control as a battle between impulsivity and deliberate foresight. This idea has roots in ideas from ancient Greeks.

The International Society for Research on Impulsivity defines the desire for smaller rewards available now over larger, but later rewards as a type of impulsivity that involves a lack of planning and regard for future consequences. But, this view rests on a false dichotomy between foresight and impulsivity.

Prioritising the present doesn’t mean you lack willpower | Psyche Ideas


Once you find an effective solution, you can try to improve it, or make it more efficient.

Efficiency is about doing this in the most economical way in terms of time, energy, or money.

The difference between efficacy, effectiveness and efficiency - Ness Labs


Tips To Better Ask For Help
  1. Demonstrate that you've tried to help yourself. Briefly explain what you've tried independently so they know you've tried to solve your problem for yourself before.
  2. Demonstrate that you've acted on the person's advice previously so they won’t be weary you might be wasting their time and not following through.
  3. Consider the timing of your request and asked them when they are free to help so you’re not inconveniencing others.
  4. Use the "Foot in the Door" or "The Door in the Face." In the former a small request that gets the person into "yes" mode is followed by a larger request, while in the latter a large request is denied and followed by a smaller request, which seems more reasonable due to the earlier unreasonable request.
  5. Don't make someone guess what you want, be precise.
  6. Make your requests using multiple channels in customer-service situations. If you don't succeed at first, hang up and try again with a different representative, or switch to a different customer-service channel.
  7. Offer or give more help than you ask for to make people more receptive to your requests.

7 Effective Ways to Ask for Help (and Get It)


The Law Of Unintended Consequences

There are many situations and disastrous circumstances where impulsive and emotional solutions are applied, which apparently solve the problem but unintentionally create new problems or collateral damage that may be worse. This is known as The Law Of Unintended Consequences.

Example: The Forest Service rapidly extinguished forest fires as soon as they erupted, causing larger, more severe forest fires due to an abundance of unburned deadwood spread all over.

The Law of Unintended Consequences


The Pen And Paper

Even in this digital age, when automation is in full force and being swift on the keyboard is a crucial skill, using your hand and pencil is still on top of the charts for cognitive learning.

Every student of all age groups has one cognitive toolkit with them: a pen and a notebook, to be able to take notes by hand. Handwritten notes are an important and powerful practice to infuse information in the brain, making it easier to retrieve information when required.

The benefits of note-taking by hand


Preferring The Front Right Burner

Most people prefer the front right burner on their stove.

There are deep psychological reasons why many favor the front right side. Researchers claim that the four-burner stove problem is an outstanding issue in an ergonomic design that continues to attract academic attention.

Why Do Most People Favor Their Stove’s Front Right Burner?



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