Quick take

Summary of ways of thinking about problems.

Description

Commonly used heuristics, from George Pólya’s 1945 book, ‘How to Solve It’.

- If you are having difficulty understanding a problem, try drawing a picture.
- If you can’t find a solution, try assuming that you have a solution and seeing what you can derive from that (‘working backward’).
- If the problem is abstract, try examining a concrete example.
- Try solving a more general problem first (the ‘inventor’s paradox’: the more ambitious plan may have more chances of success).

Jonathan Bendor at Stanford University has developed a toolkit approach using some core heuristics. It is a very loose way of using a set of heuristics to solve a problem.

The idea is that problem solvers mix and match the cognitive shortcuts to discover their solution.

*Decomposition*– start small and break the overarching problem into smaller pieces.*Local Search*– learn from experience, look for known, similar solutions and adapt them.*Seriality*– getting from A to B. Make one small change first, then move on to the next.*Multiple Minds*– many hands make light work. Don’t work on a problem alone, find out what others think, and use them as resources.*Imitation*– don’t reinvent the wheel, find out what other organizations are doing and copy them.*Recombination*– mix and match. Combine a number of different ideas to create a solution.

Using these heuristic elements is a not bound to being a linear or cyclical process;

*They can be used in any order, and as many times for different purposes as needed.*