Problems problem-solvers can't solve

Last updated May 21st, 2019
1-min read

"I love math:
it's repeatable & objective

The other subjects
are too 'up to interpretation'"

--me, foolish high schooler

I studied engineering because I loved "problem-solving"
But problems come from many domains & languages

Markets rarely reward purists

College tests were consistent, built on an agreed-upon knowledge base
If none of my peers understood a problem, we'd curse the professor
That culture helped us push the frontier of human knowledge, but

Most problems aren't at the edges of science; they're between people

Newton figured out Calculus long ago, but billions still can't
The range of business problems dwarfs that of academia

Good engineers, consultants, & salespeople find solutions
but Great ones find deeper problems
They don't solve what emerged,
but what brought it up

Professionals aren't paid to answer,
but to further question

So what's the answer?
Wrong question

It isn't about solving

It's about starting a new relationship
It's about getting to know the problem

A problem well-defined is already solved

Profound solutions aren't "outside the box":
they come when you ask enough questions
to notice that "the box" was just a circle

The most difficult problems I face
have multiple tempting half-solutions
that only distract from the pursuit of clarity

We've already solved the small problems
We even solved solving with machines
so stop grinding your gears

The most worthwhile question
is the one you haven't asked yet

The very best even ask computers questions

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