The Thinker’s Toolkit by David D. Jones

Morgan D. Jones; Link to amazon: The Thinker’s Toolkit

In all modern occupations there is a large amount of problem solving involved. In fact in most jobs, this is the part that drives us. Solving problems, getting better at what we do and get recognition is what drives most of us in life. From time to time I find myself coming up with really bad solutions or just another flavor of the same solution. It hit me that I should organize and think about how I try to solve problems. Some searches and I found this book.

The Thinkers Toolkit, is a great catalogue of different techniques.

After an outline and introductory chapter Morgan Jone starts with going through different techniques and how to apply them on different subjects and problems. Regardless of your domain of problems or work, there are some really interesting techniques to read about. I needed to create a complete new service offering at work, applying some of the thoughts helped me get un-stuck and be creative again.

Some notes and snippets from the book:

  • We commonly begin our analysis of a problem by formulating our conclusions; we thus start at what should be the end of the analytic process
  • Our analysis usually focuses on the solution we intuitively favor: we therefore give inadequate attention to alternative solutions
  • Not surprisingly the solution we intuitively favor is the first one that seems satisfactory. Economists call it satisficing
  • We tend to confuse discussing/thinking hard about a problem with analyzing it. When in fact the two activities are not at all the same. Discussion and thinking hard can be like pedaling an exercise bike. The expend lots of energy and seat but not go anywhere.
  • Most people are functionally illiterate when it comes to structuring their analysis

  • When asking, who is the 22 president, you say, let me think, you are not thinking you are waiting for your mind to pop up the answer.
  • Convergence and divergence; convergence means bringing together and moving toward one point. narrowing down, zooming in. Divergence means that we take a broader view of a problem, whether by examining evidence more thoroughly or entertaining alternative solutions.

Pitfalls in problem definition
1- no focus, definition is too vague or broad
2- focus is misdirected, definition is too narrow
3- statement is assumption-driven
4- statement is solution-driven

Techniques for problem restatement
1- paraphrase, restate the problem using different wrds without losing hte original meaning.
2- 180 degrees, thirs the problm on its head
3- broaden the focus, restate the problem in a larger cntext
4- redirect the focus boldly conscisly change the focues.
5- ask Why,

Divergent thinking
1- The more ideas, the better
2- Build one idea upon another
3- Wacky ideas are ok
4- Don’t evaluate ideas

Divergent = Brainstorm
Convergent = Winnow and cluster
Convergent Select practical, promising ideas

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