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Problem or Solution Statements?
- There is less to fear from outside competition than from inside inefficiency, discourtesy and bad service.
- John Foster Dulles: The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem you had last year.
- Prevention is better than the cure: It's better to take care that a problem does not happen than to have to solve the problem afterwards. It's easier to stop something bad from happening in the first place than to fix the damage after it has happened.
- The only thing worse than a problem that happens all the time is a problem that doesn't happen all the time.
- Scott Peck: Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.
- Henry Ford: There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.
- Henry Ford: Don't find fault. Find a remedy.
- Albert Einstein: The significant problems we face can’t be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
- Albert Einstein: It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
- Thomas Edison: Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
- If you don't know what the problem was, you haven't fixed it.
- Confucius: A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake.
- John C. Maxwell: A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.
- Thomas J. Watson: Recently, I was asked, if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?
- Denis Waitley: Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.
- Norman Vincent Peale: When a problem comes along, study it until you are completely knowledgeable. Then find that weak spot, break the problem apart, and the rest will be easy.
- Jack Nicklaus: Focus on remedies, not faults.
- Duke Ellington: A problem is a chance for you to do your best.
- Stephen R. Covey: If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting.
- Robert Louis Stevenson: Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.
- Tariq Siddique: If you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail.
- Norman Vincent Peale: The "how" thinker gets problems solved effectively because he wastes no time with futile "ifs" but goes right to work on the creative "how".
Simple Problem Solving
Here is a scenario that is repeatedly found in problem solving.
A person is tracking down a difficult problem, often one that is not completely reproducible. In a status meeting, the person announces that the problem is solved. Someone asked, "what was the cause of the problem?" The person responds, "I'm not really sure what the problem was, but I changed xyz and the problem went away, so I must have fixed it".
Nine times out of ten this approach has not really fix the problem; it just masked out the real problem. In a few weeks or months, the problem will reappear. Never assume that a problem has been corrected until you can identify the exact condition that caused the problem and convince yourself that the particular change made really explains the behavior you have seen. Ideally, you should create a test case that reliably reproduces the problem, make your fix, and then use that test case to verify that the problem is gone.
If a situation occurs, where a change was made and the problem mysteriously goes away don't stop there. Undo the change and see if the problem recurs. If the problem does not reappear then the change is probably unrelated to the problem. If undoing the change causes the problem to recur, then figure out why. For example, try reducing the scope of the change to find the smallest possible modification that causes the problem to come and go. When this does not identify the source of the problem, add additional tracing to the system and compare the "before" and "after" traces to see how the change affected the behavior of the system. Experience has proven once a condition found that makes a problem come and go most people can usually find the solution.