Book Review: Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe

Problem Solving 101: A simple book for smart people: Amazon.de: Watanabe,  Ken: Fremdsprachige B├╝cher
Picture taken from amazon.

Author: Ken Watanabe.
Published: 2009.

Goodreads: 4.1/5
Amazon: 4.4/5
(Mar 2023)

It is in everyday life that we have to solve problems, from projects in work, assignments in class, to selecting the best place for a walk in our free time. Although some of them are trivial and it doesn’t matter much what choices we make or how we handle them. The other may have more significant consequences if we don’t treat them with great care. Problem Solving 101 is designed to help us with those medium-to-big dilemmas.

While the range of problems one encounter might vary from time to time, from person to person, there is still a general procedure that can be utilized to deal with all of them. With this book, Ken Watanabe helps us solve the “problem of how to solve problems” by slowly walking through 3 case studies. From how to popularize a student music show, the strategy to save money for purchasing a computer, to identify which high school to attend to best-fit one’s interests. (Note that since this book was originally targeted to help develop problem-solving skills for kids, these examples all take the contexts around children.)

The 2 traits of this book that I like the most are:

  • The method it describes seems persuasive. I have no doubts about practicality.
  • The book is short, easy to read, and stress-free.

Having read the book, below is a quick summary of the strategy to address any problem:

  • Step 1: Set a clear goal.
  • Step 2: Identify the problems and their root causes, and write them down.
  • Step 3: List facts, all possible solutions, and their pros and cons.
  • Step 4: Weight the solutions by their effectiveness and feasibility.
  • Step 5: Select some potentially best solutions.
  • Step 6: Verify the selected solutions by trying or collecting information.
  • Step 7a: If there is something wrong (some solutions are not as good as we thought), update the fact in step 3 and repeat from there.
  • Step 7b: If everything works well but we still have time, try to improve the solutions or find some better ones.

From another point of view, the point of view about attitude, that would be:

  • Be positive (don’t give up)
  • Be objective (use facts, not prejudices).
  • Be thoughtful (think about the problem).
  • Be humble (seek helps from others if needed).

Just that simple.

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