Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Solving problems or creating solutions?As engineers we spend a lot of time solving problems. A customer has a problem and it needs to be fixed. The electronic boards you have just designed are not working and the problem needs to be fixed.
Problem solving has a certain mindset. A problem is narrowly defined and the focus is solving that one problem as quickly as possible. An analytical mindset is adopted and there is an intense search for cause and effect.
The are many challenges with adopting a problem solving mindset. Problem solving can be misguided and focussed on finding the cause rather than obtaining the desired result – has the desired solution been correctly identified before starting? Continuously solving problems can be draining. All you ever see in your product or service are the problems with it, particularly if you are isolated from the happy customers.
The flip side of engineering is that we also get the opportunity to create solutions. Creating solutions is about seeing the bigger picture and understanding the idea or problem within the context of a larger system. This requires more lateral thinking and gathering information from a far wider variety of sources then when we are "solving problems."
Solution creating can be too loosely defined and only slowly drift towards the eventual goal. It is also easy to be continuously finding new solutions (adding features) which are not even needed to achieve the actual goal. It is important to stay focussed on creating happy customers.
Each mindset carries its own set of paradigms so when we adopt a certain approach we close our minds to certain solutions and possibilities. Knowing that each way of thinking opens up different possibilities means that we switch between the two as a tool to help us solve problems and create solutions in a quicker and more comprehensive way.
How would your approach to your current challenge change if you switched mindsets? Adopting a different approach may even help you to find more satisfaction in your work.
Image courtesy of Ethan Lofton, published under a creative commons license.
Get the latest posts immediately
or enter your email address:
About this blog
About Engineer Simplicity
Engineer Simplicity specialises in the design and development of electronic products.
We are in the middle of an energy crisis and each of us need to make some dramatic changes to ensure that we have electricity, and that the ...
The advert ends with the line, "The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds." There are a couple of ways to i...
Electronic design automation tools like OrCAD , PADS and Altium Designer are part of an electronic engineer's day–to–day life. We need...
As engineers we spend a lot of time solving problems. A customer has a problem and it needs to be fixed. The electronic boards you have just...
eWaste is a particularly difficult issue to deal with as it contains many different materials and lots of extremely hazardous substances. I...
I was pondering processes while making some tea today. Most of my process pondering these days is inspired by what Sig is doing . I think o...
Load shedding and Eskom have been on the lips of many South Africans over the past few weeks. We have had some of our worst electrical outag...
Every time information is duplicated there is the possiblity of an error. Let me say that again, every time information is duplicated there ...
Mercury in compact fluorescent tubes (CFLs) is a health hazard and therefore we should not use CFLs....at least that is the false message b...
I am an advocate of making sure that every device consumes as little power as possible at all times. Indicator lights should be off, process...
- May (2)
- April (1)
- March (3)
- February (2)
- January (2)
- November (3)
- October (5)
- September (1)
- August (2)
- July (3)
- June (4)
- May (3)
- April (2)
- March (2)
- February (4)
- January (1)