I’ve Got Problems

“When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong”—Buckminster Fuller

Generally speaking problem solving can be complicated. For me it is simple. I have a problem and my wife tells me how I am going to solve it. It is that easy. It is too bad that in most cases she created the problem for me in the first place.

When problem solving it is important to not lose sight of the problem at hand. It is easy to become distracted with side issues and loosing focus of mission, themes, goals, and the intended audience. If necessary, when working with a group or by yourself, focus specifically on the problem itself and avoid pitfalls that keep you from fulfilling that mission, theme, goal or meeting the needs of the intended audience.

I’m kind of a slow thinker. When problem solving I like to sit back, think, see what happens, collect information, synthesize approaches and then decide. My wife calls this being a procrastinator but I call it being analytical. You should be aware that some solve problems through various approaches that may or may not meld well with your approach. I tend to wait for the “Ah ha” moment to happen. The period before it hits is known as the incubation period.

Inspiration hits me at strange times, usually when I am away from the problem, program, or the computer. For me it is usually when I am driving or watching baseball. I don’t know if is because my mind works differently at those times or if it has to do with me eating peanuts and Cracker Jacks. More than anything it breaks my current cycle of thinking and allows new ideas to flow. The sugar and carbs help too.

If you wait too long in the incubation period you could be forced into the pressure cooker phase of problem solving. I have seen several talented people who thrive and excel under the pressure to meet a groups needs or finish a project under a tight deadline. Solutions to problems can flow out of necessity in this approach. Just leave time at the end for evaluation and re-design if necessary.

The longer I work as an interpreter and a designer I see that the majority of my work is problem solving. In some of my future posts I will take on common problems faced by interpreters and designers. Be on the look out for the I’ve Go Problems titles. If you have a problem professional or socially send them our way and we’ll take them on. In the mean time continue working on what problem solving approach works well for you and your specific situation. Don’t be afraid to take on different approaches or just listen to your significant other.