We have been taught that our initial impression of what we think is the problem really IS the problem. Here are three traps we fall into when it comes to solving problems that are complex, ambiguous, potentially dangerous and need creative ideas.
Ready for a quick dose of statistics. Here we go!
In the field of statistics there are three types of errors.
A type one statistical error is a false positive.
In other words, you create an experiment and when you review the results of the experiment, you falsely conclude that whatever you have tested in the experiment DID make a difference. When in fact, what you tested actually DID NOT make a difference in the outcome. You have been fooled by random chance into thinking something interesting is actually happening when it is not.
A type two statistical error is a false negative.
In this case, you create an experiment and when you review the results of the experiment you conclude that whatever you tested DID NOT make a difference but, in fact it actually DID. In this case, you determine that there is nothing interesting going on when, in fact, there is.
A type three error is asking the wrong question in the first place.
As a result, you attempt to solve the wrong problem. A type three error occurs when you get the right answer to the wrong question. The American mathematician Richard Hamming stated that formulating a problem incorrectly sets you off on the wrong path in the first place.
He postulated that, “It is better to solve the right problem the wrong way than to solve the wrong problem the right way.”
Consider this: We have been taught to find answers to problems, not to question the problem itself. We are still using the same strategies we learned in elementary school to solve complex, non-routine, difficult and potentially dangerous problems.
Providing specific actions that you can implement immediately to uncover the real problem is what my latest book, Solve the Real Problem is all about.
The book is now in the hands of the test readers. When we get their suggestions and make the changes, we will be shipping the books. I will be signing all preordered hard copies of Solve the Real Problem and you can now preorder the electronic version.