Books

Problem Solving 101

Dan Roam of "The Back of the Napkin Blog" discusses a new book on his blog called Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe.  The book was originally written in Japanese, but after great success in Japan there is now an English version selling in the US.  Here’s a brief snippet from the book’s web site:

Problem Solving 101 started out as a simple guide to teach Japanese schoolchildren critical thinking skills. But it quickly became an adult bestseller, thanks to the powerful effectiveness of Ken Watanabe’s problem solving methods.

I have not read the book yet, but the web site provides some sample videos on basic problem solving techniques which could be applied not only by the Japanese schoolchildren, but certainly any organization looking to improve/establish/teach methods to improve their operations.

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite Saturday Night Live segments from Weekend Update, which featured "financial expert" Oscar Rogers and his analysis on how to correct the economic crisis.  While his process is humorous given the enormity of the problem, there certainly is validity to his process.  Here’s what he had to say, followed by the clip from Hulu.  Enjoy!

"Take it one step at time.  Identify the problem.  FIX IT!  Identify another problem.  FIX IT!  Repeat as necessary until it’s all FIXED!" -Oscar Rogers

By |2009-03-11T08:47:09+00:00March 11th, 2009|Books, Business, Fun, People|0 Comments

The importance of customer empathy

An importance emphasis in lean is a focus on the customer.  Dev Patnaik has released a book called "Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy" (web site, book).  I’ve just read one of the sample chapters online (introduction), and in that section highlights how the bigger an organization gets, the more difficult it becomes to maintain the focus on customer empathy:

Simply put, we’re wired to care. We rely on those instincts to help us make better decisions in situations that affect the folks around us. Unfortunately, that instinct seems to get short circuited when we get together in large groups. We lose our intuition, our gut sense for what’s going on outside of that group. Corporations become more insular. Colleges start to feel like ivory towers. Political campaigns take on a “bunker mentality.” That sort of isolation can have disastrous effects because these same institutions depend on the outside world for revenues and reputation and votes.

So what’s the solution?  How do you keep your organization to maintain its focus on why you’re even in business?  I don’t know yet, but you can check out some more excerpts or buy the book!

By |2008-11-24T15:33:00+00:00November 24th, 2008|Books, Customer Service, People|0 Comments

Lest we forget…humans solve problems

Great quote I just read in “Lean Enterprise Systems: Using IT for Continuous Improvement” authored by Steve Bell (I downloaded the pdf version, but can’t seem to remember from where right now):

“Society has reached the point where one can push a button and be immediately deluged with technical and managerial information. This is all very convenient, of course, but if one is not careful there is a danger of losing the ability to think. We must remember that in the end it is the individual human being who must solve the problems.” Eiji Toyoda, 1983

(emphasis mine) I love this because it resonates with the Thrive tagline of “Software doesn’t innovate. Software doesn’t make decisions. Software can’t manage people.”  The software does not solve the problems.  The software improves your ability to solve the problems.  Even if you want to argue that software does solve problems, it is only because we humans built the formula/algorithm to solve the problem…so it still goes back to people.

Considering I haven’t made it past the opening quote and I’m already referencing the book, I suspect I might like it.

By |2008-08-19T14:59:08+00:00August 19th, 2008|Books, Information Management, People|0 Comments