Friday, April 19, 2013

Are Your Lights On?

Are Your Lights On? by Donald Gause and Gerald Weinberg is a short book that takes an entertaining look at the dangers and difficulties inherent in problem solving.

The book will energize your thinking and change how you approach problem solving. It's a great resource for anyone involved in software development since the software is all about problems and their solutions.

The book focuses on 4 questions:
  • What is the true problem?
  • Who's problem is it?
  • What's the problem's source?
  • Does the problem need a solution?
Like me, the book recognizes that a lot of problem solving is mistakenly fixated on solutions. Some targeted observations:
The fledgling problem solver invariable rushes in with solutions before taking time to define the problem being solved. Even experienced solvers, when subjected to social pressure, yield to this demand for haste. When they do, many solutions are found, but not necessarily to the problem at hand.

Don't mistake a solution method for a problem definition-especially if it's your own method.
I especially like a term introduced in the book - solution probleming - which is the quest for problems to fit a solution.