Archive for the ‘Problem solving’ Category

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

May 19, 2017

Classical educators argued that these disciplines are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.

=======

The courses that I teach contain a heavy dose of problem-solving skills.

Early on, I assert my belief that that problem-solving skills can be taught – and, more importantly, learned – and set about to prove the point.

 

clip_image002

=======

I’ve been doing some summer reading on the topic of reasoning & problem-solving and learned:

“For twenty-six hundred years many philosophers and educators have been confident that reasoning could be taught.”

(more…)

I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping … say, what?

May 4, 2017

Discussing creativity in class, I casually mentioned that I seem to do my best thinking when I’m asleep.

Specifically, I reported that I like to get to work as soon as I jump out of bed (literally) … and that I often find myself doing a brain dump of thoughts that weren’t top of mind before I’d gone nite-nite.

The revelation initially got some chuckles … then some folks started nodding and chiming in with “me, too” variants on the story.

Of course, some remained unconvinced.

clip_image002

=======

For the skeptics, here some science …

(more…)

So, are you left-brained or right-brained?

February 23, 2017

Yesterday’s post prompted some questions re: what exactly is left-brained and right-brained thinking, so … 

For decades cognitive psychologists has characterized folks as being either left brain dominant  – logical – or right brain dominant – creative.

Browse the lists below and pick your dominant brain side – left or right.

image

= = = = = 
So what? What to do?
= = = = =

(more…)

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

February 10, 2017

Classical educators argued that these disciplines are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.

=======

The courses that I teach contain a heavy dose of problem-solving skills.

Early on, I assert my belief that that problem-solving skills can be taught – and, more importantly, learned – and set about to prove the point.

 

clip_image002

=======

I’ve been doing some summer reading on the topic of reasoning & problem-solving and learned:

“For twenty-six hundred years many philosophers and educators have been confident that reasoning could be taught.”

(more…)

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

December 1, 2016

They are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.

=======

The courses that I teach contain a heavy dose of problem-solving skills.

Early on, I assert my belief that that problem-solving skills can be taught – and, more importantly, learned – and set about to prove the point.

 

clip_image002

=======

I’ve been doing some summer reading on the topic of reasoning & problem-solving and learned:

“For twenty-six hundred years many philosophers and educators have been confident that reasoning could be taught.”

(more…)

I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping … say, what?

November 30, 2016

Discussing creativity in class, I casually mentioned that I seem to do my best thinking when I’m asleep.

Specifically, I reported that I like to get to work as soon as I jump out of bed (literally) … and that I often find myself doing a brain dump of thoughts that weren’t top of mind before I’d gone nite-nite.

The revelation initially got some chuckles … then some folks started nodding and chiming in with “me, too” variants on the story.

Of course, some remained unconvinced.

clip_image002

=======

For the skeptics, here some science …

(more…)

I do my best thinking when I’m sleeping … say, what?

September 30, 2016

Discussing creativity in class, I casually mentioned that I seem to do my best thinking when I’m asleep.

Specifically, I reported that I like to get to work as soon as I jump out of bed (literally) … and that I often find myself doing a brain dump of thoughts that weren’t top of mind before I’d gone nite-nite.

The revelation initially got some chuckles … then some folks started nodding and chiming in with “me, too” variants on the story.

Of course, some remained unconvinced.

clip_image002

=======

For the skeptics, here some science …

(more…)

IQ scores are rising … here’s why.

June 21, 2016

Simple hypothesis: more folks are reading the Homa Files.

A more complex answer is offered by James Flynn is his book “Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the 21st Century”.

image

What’s his explanation?

(more…)

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

May 27, 2016

Classical educators argued that these disciplines are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.

=======

The courses that I teach contain a heavy dose of problem-solving skills.

Early on, I assert my belief that that problem-solving skills can be taught – and, more importantly, learned – and set about to prove the point.

 

clip_image002

=======

I’ve been doing some summer reading on the topic of reasoning & problem-solving and learned:

“For twenty-six hundred years many philosophers and educators have been confident that reasoning could be taught.”

(more…)

When can you “trust your gut”?

May 3, 2016

I teach problem-solving in my courses and preach that intuition is a good thing – not flying by the seat of your pants — but rather, sub-consciously tapping into your cognitive storehouse of education, experiences and emotions.

The more you learn, the more you practice and the more you discipline yourself mentally … the better you get as a problem-solver.

clip_image002

=========

Digging deeper, I came across an interesting article in Inc., positing that intuition is evident in 4 distinct types of “thinking preferences” which are naturally intuitive in different ways…

(more…)

Dilemma: The case of the lost concert tickets …

July 2, 2015

 

A classic “framing” question from Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

Here’s the situation:

A woman has bought two $80 tickets to the theater.

When she arrives at the theater, she opens her wallet and discovers that the tickets are missing.

$80 tickets are still available at the box office.

Will she buy two more tickets to see the play?

 

clip_image002

 

Most (but, not all) survey respondents answer that the woman will go home without seeing the show.

Let’s try another situation …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: Winging it, too few constraints, greener grass

June 29, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Grass look s greener

Today, we finish the list … ending with an old standby: The Grass Looks Greener …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: We’re all above average (or at least think we are)

June 26, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Im above average

Today, we add reason #10 to the list. we all think we’re above average

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: Men shoot first, then …

June 25, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Man shooting gun

Today, we add reason #9 to the list. Men shoot first, then …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: frame of mind, skimming, tidiness

June 24, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m  excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Man making mistake

Today, we add reasons 6, 7 and 8 to the list.

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: The myth of multi-tasking

June 23, 2015

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m excerpting the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Mukti-tasking woman

Today, we add reason #5 to the list: the myth of multi-tasking…

(more…)

Why we make mistakes …

June 22, 2015

In this and a couple of subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from a summer read:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Confused man

Today, the first 4 reasons on the list …

(more…)

Problem Solving: A matter of perspective …

June 12, 2015

According to ChinaSmack.com, most Hong Kong elementary school applicants are able to answer this admissions test question in the allotted 20 seconds.

Can you?

Psst: It’s ok to use scratch paper and a pen or pencil.

 

image

 

Stumped?  Here’s the answer and the teaching point …

(more…)

Biases: The favorite-long shot bias …

June 5, 2015

In gambling and economics, there’s an observed phenomenon favorite-long shot bias.

image

Here’s how it works …

 

(more…)

What are your chances of dying from ___ ?

May 26, 2015

OK, here’s a test for you  …

image

Rank the the following by the odds that somebody who is in the group or who is exposed to the risk is likely to die.

Make #1 the highest risk of dying in the next year; make #7 the lowest risk circumstance

  • For women giving birth
  • For anyone thirty-five to forty-four years old
  • From asbestos in schools
  • For anyone for any reason
  • From lightning
  • For police on the job
  • From airplane crashes

And the answer is …

(more…)

What are your chances of dying from ___ ?

March 17, 2015

OK, here’s a test for you  …

image

Rank the the following by the odds that somebody who is in the group or who is exposed to the risk is likely to die.

Make #1 the highest risk of dying in the next year; make #7 the lowest risk circumstance

  • For women giving birth
  • For anyone thirty-five to forty-four years old
  • From asbestos in schools
  • For anyone for any reason
  • From lightning
  • For police on the job
  • From airplane crashes

And the answer is …

(more…)

Problem Solving: A matter of perspective …

February 26, 2015

According to ChinaSmack.com, most Hong Kong elementary school applicants are able to answer this admissions test question in the allotted 20 seconds.

Can you?

Psst: It’s ok to use scratch paper and a pen or pencil.

 

image

 

Stumped?  Here’s the answer and the teaching point …

(more…)

Problem Solving: A matter of perspective …

February 22, 2015

According to ChinaSmack.com, most Hong Kong elementary school applicants are able to answer this admissions test question in the allotted 20 seconds.

Can you?

Psst: It’s ok to use scratch paper and a pen or pencil.

 

image

 

Stumped?  Here’s the answer and the teaching point …

(more…)

Problem Solving Tips: Patterning, framing and the astronaut’s pen …

February 18, 2015

Excerpted from Think Better

Among the many discoveries NASA made when it began sending people into space was that the astronauts’ pens did not work well in zero gravity.

The ink wouldn’t flow properly. You can simulate the effect at home by trying to write with the business end of your pen pointing up.

Pretty soon, the ink stops flowing and the pen won’t write.

 

image

 

The solution – giving astronaut’s a way to write upside down —  depends on how you frame the problem …

(more…)

HITS: Are you left-brained or right-brained?

November 13, 2014

HITS: HomaFiles’s Ideas To Share

For decades cognitive psychologists has characterized folks as being either left brain dominant  – logical – or right brain dominant – creative.

Browse the lists below and pick your dominant brain side – left or right.

image

= = = = = 
So what? What to do?
= = = = =

(more…)

Biases: The favorite-long shot bias …

November 12, 2014

In gambling and economics, there’s an observed phenomenon favorite-long shot bias.

image

Here’s how it works …

 

(more…)

Dilemma: The case of the lost concert tickets …

November 10, 2014

 

A classic “framing” question from Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

Here’s the situation:

A woman has bought two $80 tickets to the theater.

When she arrives at the theater, she opens her wallet and discovers that the tickets are missing.

$80 tickets are still available at the box office.

Will she buy two more tickets to see the play?

 

clip_image002

 

Most (but, not all) survey respondents answer that the woman will go home without seeing the show.

Let’s try another situation …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: We’re all above average (or at least think we are)

September 15, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Im above average

Today, we add reason #10 to the list. we all think we’re above average

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: Winging it, too few constraints, greener grass

September 10, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Grass look s greener

Today, we finish the list … ending with an old standby: The Grass Looks Greener …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: Men shoot first, then …

September 8, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Man shooting gun

Today, we add reason #9 to the list. Men shoot first, then …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: frame of mind, skimming, tidiness

September 5, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m  excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Man making mistake

Today, we add reasons 6, 7 and 8 to the list.

(more…)

Why We Make Mistakes: The myth of multi-tasking

September 4, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m excerpting the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Mukti-tasking woman

Today, we add reason #5 to the list: the myth of multi-tasking…

(more…)

Why we make mistakes …

September 3, 2014

In this and a couple of subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from a summer read:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books

Confused man

Today, the first 4 reasons on the list …

(more…)

Dilemma: The case of the lost concert tickets …

July 31, 2014

 

A classic “framing” question from Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

Here’s the situation:

A woman has bought two $80 tickets to the theater.

When she arrives at the theater, she opens her wallet and discovers that the tickets are missing.

$80 tickets are still available at the box office.

Will she buy two more tickets to see the play?

 

clip_image002

 

Most (but, not all) survey respondents answer that the woman will go home without seeing the show.

Let’s try another situation …

(more…)

Test your intuition: Can you tell a book by its cover?

July 23, 2014

Here’s a classic test of intuitive skills excepted from Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

As you consider this question, please assume that Steve – the subject — was selected at random from a representative sample.

Steve has been described by a neighbor as follows: “Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful but with little interest in people or in the world of reality. A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure, and a passion for detail .”

clip_image002

* * * * *

Is Steve more likely to be a librarian or a farmer?
(more…)

Biases: The favorite-long shot bias …

July 3, 2014

In gambling and economics, there’s an observed phenomenon favorite-long shot bias.

image

Here’s how it works …

 

(more…)

Problem Solving Tips: Patterning, framing and the astronaut’s pen …

June 27, 2014

Excerpted from Think Better

Among the many discoveries NASA made when it began sending people into space was that the astronauts’ pens did not work well in zero gravity.

The ink wouldn’t flow properly. You can simulate the effect at home by trying to write with the business end of your pen pointing up.

Pretty soon, the ink stops flowing and the pen won’t write.

 

image

 

The solution – giving astronaut’s a way to write upside down —  depends on how you frame the problem …

(more…)

Problem Solving: A matter of perspective …

June 20, 2014

According to ChinaSmack.com, most Hong Kong elementary school applicants are able to answer this admissions test question in the allotted 20 seconds.

Can you?

Psst: It’s ok to use scratch paper and a pen or pencil.

 

image

 

Stumped?  Here’s the answer and the teaching point …

(more…)

What are your chances of dying from ___ ?

April 4, 2014

OK, here’s a test for you  …

image

Rank the the following by the odds that somebody who is in the group or who is exposed to the risk is likely to die.

Make #1 the highest risk of dying in the next year; make #7 the lowest risk circumstance

  • For women giving birth
  • For anyone thirty-five to forty-four years old
  • From asbestos in schools
  • For anyone for any reason
  • From lightning
  • For police on the job
  • From airplane crashes

And the answer is …

(more…)

Biases: The favorite-long shot bias …

March 27, 2014

In gambling and economics, there’s an observed phenomenon favorite-long shot bias.

image

Here’s how it works …

 

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: Winging it, too few constraints, greener grass

January 28, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books 2009

Grass look s greener

Today, we finish the list … ending with an old standby: The Grass Looks Greener …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: We’re all above average (or at least think we are)

January 24, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books 2009

Im above average

Today, we add reason #10 to the list. we all think we’re above average

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: Men shoot first, then …

January 23, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books 2009

Man shooting gun

Today, we add reason #9 to the list. Men shoot first, then …

(more…)

Why we make mistakes: frame of mind, skimming, tidiness

January 22, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m  excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books 2009

Man making mistake

Today, we add reasons 6, 7 and 8 to the list.

(more…)

Why We Make Mistakes: The myth of multi-tasking

January 21, 2014

In this and a couple of preceding and subsequent posts, I’m excerpting the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books 2009

Mukti-tasking woman

Today, we add reason #5 to the list: the myth of multi-tasking…

(more…)

Why we make mistakes …

January 20, 2014

In this and a couple of subsequent posts, i’ll be excerpting  the 13 reasons from:

Why We Make Mistakes, Joseph T. Hallinanm, Broadway Books 2009

Confused man

Today, the first 4 reasons on the list …

(more…)

HITS: Are you left-brained or right-brained?

September 13, 2013

HITS: HomaFiles’s Ideas To Share

For decades cognitive psychologists has characterized folks as being either left brain dominant  – logical – or right brain dominant – creative.

Browse the lists below and pick your dominant brain side – left or right.

image

= = = = = 
So what? What to do?
= = = = =

(more…)

What are your chances of dying from ___ ?

July 16, 2013

OK, here’s a test for you  …

image

Rank the the following by the odds that somebody who is in the group or who is exposed to the risk is likely to die.

Make #1 the highest risk of dying in the next year; make #7 the lowest risk circumstance

  • For women giving birth
  • For anyone thirty-five to forty-four years old
  • From asbestos in schools
  • For anyone for any reason
  • From lightning
  • For police on the job
  • From airplane crashes

And the answer is …

(more…)

Problem Solving Skills: Identifying Core Issues

December 18, 2012

In a prior post Effective problem-solving … the five key skills, we isolated 5 key problem solving skills.

image

Let’s drill down on #1 …

* * * * * *
(1) Identify core issues quickly

One of my observations was drawn for the Center for Creative Leadership which has found that : “Managers faced with a complex problem typically end up solving the wrong problem.”

How can that be?  What explains the misses?

Based on my experiences, there are 4 at least 4 frequently encountered stumbling blocks that managers often encounter.

  1. Wandering in a foreign land: Often, managers just don’t have the perspective – drawn from experience or education or whatever – to fully understand the nuances of a problem or recognize the tell-tale patterns.
  2. Trees obscure the forest: The initial observation related to complex problems, which – by definition — come laden with extraneous or equivocal information that sometimes clouds the picture and causes cognitive solution.
  3. Unconscious biases take over: For example. how about cutting the Federal deficit?  If you present the problem to a fiscal conservative, they’ll immediately start probing for spending cuts.  If you ask a liberal, they’ll start figuring how to raise taxes.  Same problem.  Different perspectives drive by in-going biases.
  4. (Preference for simpler problems: In his book “Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow”, Adam Tversky argues that most mortals – when confronted by a hard, complicated problem exhibit a burning urge to to solve a simpler problem … one they’ve seen before, or one that seems simpler and more solvable.

* * * * *
So, how to jump over these stumbling blocks?

Here are some suggestions …

  • Start generic, then get specific: If you’re unfamiliar with a particular industry or situation, take it up a level of abstraction.  That is, conceptualize it with relevant elements that are more familiar.  Then, adjust to the specifics of the situation.
  • Clear clutter, structure problem: Get down to the absolute essentials. Purge the problem of the distracters that aren’t germane or the factors that aren’t  likely to influence the answer.  Don’t be lured to information that may be interesting but not determining.  Once the canvas is cleaner, patterns should be easier to discern.
  • Stay focused and be objective: This hard because many biases are sub-conscious.  Ask yourself if a person with a different slant would come to the same conclusion.
  • Refrain: “What’s the question?” … Keep pushing yourself to test “is this the central problem … or, just a symptom?”

* * * * *
Follow on Twitter @KenHoma           >> Latest Posts

HITS: Effective problem-solving … the five key skills.

December 17, 2012

HITS: HomaFiles’ Ideas To Share

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to kick-off the MSB Consulting Club’s pioneering extracurricular series on problem-solving.

My overall message was that there are 5 key problem-solving skills that consulting firms are looking for …

image

* * * * *

Here are some of the Homa-isms that framed each of the skills (more…)