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Showing posts from July, 2012

Problem Solving: Deadlines and Context

One of the more difficult challenges people and teams have in the face of deadline pressure is taking time to consider how to approach a problem rather than just diving in with a solution approach that you know will work.

In college, when I was taking a devices and circuits class,  I found myself stuck on a problem on the first problem set of the semester.  I asked an upperclassman for help and we determined that the problem could be solved by setting up a system of something like 12 equations, and grinding through the process of solving it. His solution was correct of course, but I wondered if this approach might be more complex than it needed to be given that it was  for one of a number of problems in the first problem set of the course, and given that the theme of the first few classes was more conceptual than about doing calculations .

When I later saw the solution to the problem it turned out that by making some simplifying assumptions, the 12 equations reduced to 2, and the sol…