General Problem Solving Rules

I found a paper with these notes on it stuffed into my copy of Poor Charlie’s Almanac. Below is a list of super-simple rules for good problem solving:

  1. Ask: Should I be working on this? or What if I did nothing?
  2. Resolve the big ‘no-brainer’ questions first.
  3. Apply the 80/20 Rule.
  4. Separate the core problem from the minutiae
  5. Invert – Think through the problem in reverse
  6. Apply numerically fluency (probability, statistics, algebra, basic calculus)
  7. Apply elementary, interdisciplinary wisdom.
  8. Never rely entirely on others.
  9. Watch for combinations of factors – The Lollapalooza Effect

Two-Track Analysis:

  1. What are the factors that really govern the interests involved, rationally considered?
  2. What are the subconscious influences? Where is the brain automatically forming conclusions at the sub-conscious level?
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