Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really is Paperback – 30 Aug 1990
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It shows the pitfalls entangled in the figuring out what the problem is, and if this is the right problem and what solving it will bring about (unintended consequences).
If it sounds boring just get the book. It's well written and filled with tons of funny stories and characters. Very unique!
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I give 3 stars for 2 reasons:
1) The problems in the book could be stated in a more realistic fashion, so that one would have a solid interest in giving it a try to solve on his own
2) Make main statements less ambiguous
I give one additional star for the fact that I haven't seen any other book of this kind.
George Polya wrote a wonderful book on problem-solving. His focus is on mathematics, but can be applied as a guide to any thought process. He also stresses the need to clearly understand the problem by asking yourself questions, like: "What is the unknown?, "What are the data?", "What is the condition?". He goes further into showing methods of finding a solution, devising a plan and drawing lessons from solved problems. This book also gives a chance to practice with easy mathematically, but nevertheless not standard puzzles in the end of the book.