The Great Problem Solver

The Great Problem Solver — On Decisions — quick take

Sometimes I solve a problem after much thinking and consideration. I take walks, write things down, talk to my friends and colleagues. It takes considerable time, but I get to a final decision. There’s a solution that I like.

This prompts me to believe that I’m a good problem solver.

Yet, that may be an illusion. I may have reinvented a wheel that I failed to notice, because I limited myself mainly to my own personal knowledge and experience, along with some others in my inner circle. I may have invested more time and energy than actually needed to solve this problem. I may not be as good as I think.

The opposite also occurs.

I sometimes fail to solve a problem after much thinking and consideration. I never get there even after considerable time. There isn’t a solution that I like.

This prompts me to believe that this problem cannot be solved.

Yet, that may also be an illusion. I may well have missed a wheel that has already been invented, because once again I limited myself to my own personal knowledge and experience, along with some others in my inner circle.

The greater the problem, the more likely that it will need insights from different people and domains. By over-investing in our own experience and thought processes, and under-investing in speedy and wide-ranging research, we reduce our chances of being a great problem solver.

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behavioral scientist, co-author of The Myth of Experience

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Emre Soyer

Emre Soyer

behavioral scientist, co-author of The Myth of Experience

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