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Are Your Lights On?

Are Your Lights On? [Kindle Edition]

Gerald M Weinberg , Donald C Gause , Sally Cox
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

The fledgling problem solver invariably rushes in with solutions before taking time to define the problem being solved. Even experienced solvers, when subjected to social pressure, yield to this demand for haste. When they do, many solutions are found, but not necessarily to the problem at hand.
Whether you are a novice or a veteran, this powerful little book will make you a more effective problem solver. Anyone involved in product and systems development will appreciate this practical illustrated guide, which was first published in 1982 and has since become a cult classic.

Offering such insights as "A problem is a difference between things as desired and things as perceived," and "In spite of appearances, people seldom know what they want until you give them what they ask for," authors Don Gause and Jerry Weinberg provide an entertaining look at ways to improve one's thinking power. The book playfully instructs the reader first to identify the problem, second to determine the problem's owner, third to identify where the problem came from, and fourth to determine whether or not to solve it.

Delightfully illustrated with 55 line drawings by Sally Cox, the book conveys a message that will change the way you think about projects and problems.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1165 KB
  • Print Length: 129 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Weinberg & Weinberg (14 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004WOXYV2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #309,364 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I've always been interested in helping smart people be happy and productive. To that end, I've published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. I've also written books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the nine-volume Quality Software series.

I try to incorporate my knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of my writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, software engineers, and people whose life-situation could require the use of a service dog). I write novels about such people, including The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, Jigglers, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, Earth's Endless Effort, Mistress of Molecules, Where There's a Will There's a Murder, The Death Lottery--all about how my brilliant protagonists produce quality work and learn to be happy. My books may be found linked from my website:

I've won many awards for my writing but the "award" I'm most proud of is the book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) written by my student and readers for my 75th birthday. Their stories make me feel that I've been at least partially successful at helping smart people be happy.
- Gerald M. (Jerry) Weinberg

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but irritating! 9 April 2001
I'm in two minds about this book.
On the one hand, it has lots of useful information in it. It splits any problem into parts that you can solve separately, such as what is the real problem, whose problem is it really and do you really want to solve it at all?
It all sounds a bit obvious, but that's true of anything you do subconsciously every day. It should get you to look at problems in a new way.
And it does, which is very good.
What's not so good -- and knocks two stars off a book that was heading for five stars at this point -- is the writing style.
It sounds like it's been written for children. If you can read this section heading without feeling nauseous you may enjoy the book: "PETER PIGEONHOLE PREPARED A PETITION".
I couldn't. It took me nearly two months to finish this book, despite the aforementioned useful content. And it's not because I'm a slow reader!
In summary, if the style doesn't put you off this is probably a good book. However, if you're older than about ten you may prefer Conceptual Blockbusting, which covers the subject in much more detail too.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An easily readable book that inspires better problem-solving 4 Jan 1997
By A Customer - Published on
I manage programmers. I need people who think on their feet and who know how to cut through the B.S. (no, not Bachelor of Science) and get to the real issues, then solve them.

That's why I'm buying everyone on my staff a copy of this book, now that I've managed to find a vendor who can get it.

Published originally in the 1970's, this book focuses on a number of creative approaches to solving seemingly intractable problems. Not a cookbook with recipes for specific problems, _Are_Your_Lights_On?_ inspires every reader to develop her own approaches to problems by emphasizing how many different ways there really are to skin a cat.

The book tells a number of stories that present sticky problems and then concludes the stories with how those problems were solved. The style of the writing is extremely informal and amusing while never patronizing. Entertaining pen and ink sketches illustrate the stories and the reader just keeps going because it's fun. But never mistake the seriousness of the book's purpose. One fantasizes about sending copies to Benjamin Netanyahu and Yassir Arafat with the cover note, "Read this and then try again."
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will wear this book out... 19 May 1998
By - Published on
I am buying my second copy of this book as I literally wore out my first - bought about 15 years ago. I have copied and quoted from it since it was first published and loaned it out. In my opinion, it is the best available book on problem solving. I have used it to teach members of my staff effective problem solving and it is universal - I am not in systems development. You will love the story that is the basis for the title.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to problem identification available. 26 Jan 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Deceptively simple and effortless to read with an enormous payback! Simply the best book on problem definition. Forces you to think about what the problem is before you decide to tackle it. Should be read often. Promotes common sense.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and thought-provoking, light on solutions 4 Dec 2004
By Jim Grey - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This engaging little book helps you step back and see your problems from a broader perspective, which helps you solve them more effectively. It also introduces you to a number of truths about problems, especially that solving one problem always creates another.

What this book does not do, however, is tell you how to solve problems. If you're looking for how-to, look elsewhere.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap gold nuggets of insight into practical intelligence 17 Dec 2002
By Jerry in Japan - Published on
A second language/computer science student stopped me in the hallway asked me if I had this book because he knew I was interested in critical and creative thinking. He asked if it would be good for his English and for learning about thinking. I told him I was not aware of the book, but would check it out. I ordered the book and read it.
Not only was the book delightfully written in English that second language learners could access, it was crafted with just the right balance of story telling and psychology for anyone. Indeed, it was written to help those of us who jump to conclusions, who suffer from myopia, or who never knew about the other angles, let alone trying to see things from a different perspective. It does help turn the lights on! I bet both Gause and Weinberg were storytellers in their former lives, and luckily for us, there was some transfer. They don't tell you how to solve problems; they illustrate some effective strategies and throw in lots of memorable stories that imprint their insights. Though this book is recommended for engineers and computer programs, it easily be applied to all occupations. I immediately told my family about it at the dining room table, my colleagues know about it, and I am incorporating it into my English classroom on writing and thinking. I was so impressed with this little book that I immediately went and read Weinberg's book on the Psychology of Computer Programming.

You will reap far more than you invest for this little nugget. This is what I told my student friend, who borrowed my copy. It truly is one of those pass around books. I hope he returns it or passes it on to others.
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