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Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really is
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Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really is

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  694 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Partial Contents

Part 1: What is The Problem?
1. A Problem
2. Peter Pigeonhole Prepared A Petition
3. What's Your Problem?

Part 2: What is The Problem?
4. Billy Brighteyes Bests The Bidders
5. Billy Bites His Tongue
6. Billy Back To The Bidders

Part 3: What is The Problem Really?
7. The Endless Chain
Paperback, 156 pages
Published January 1st 1990 by Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated (first published 1982)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  694 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Jon Mountjoy
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Written with obvious and playful humour, a short book on problem solving. "A problem is a difference between things as desired, and things as perceived" - and this book goes on to arm you with a number of problem solving techniques, from the venerable "ignore the problem" to understanding just what the problem is, whether the solution is desirable, whether people will believe you've solved the problem, who's problem it actually is, and defining problems well.

Some funny lines too: "On
Henry Ho
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I like the point of the book, but it gets repetitive and most the examples are (purposely?) contrived.

It's been a while since I read it, but I think some of my takeaways were:
- who's problem is it (who cares)? that will usually give you a clue on how to get it solved
- should you be the one solving it?
- if you cannot solve it, then make it a problem for the person who can (make that person care)
- does it needs to be solved / is it a real problem?
- don't jump to a so
John MacIntyre
This book is such an easy read it catches you off gaurd, then walks you through a series of fictional short stories, each teaching a certain lesson.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A nice way to re-frame your approaches to solving problems. Written in the style a book from 1982 could only produce.
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Some nice tales, but not a great eye-opening book.
Andrew Strenn
Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it
As a book on general problem solving, it was pretty entertaining. It was thought provoking, but I didn't learn anything too dramatic.
Muhammad Ali
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ivanu Karamazoshi
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An engineering classic delivers vignettes from the world of 1960's computers, academia, society, and business to model problems where the solution (and the problem) isn't what it first appeared to be.

Pleasure to read.
Could stand to be updated for sure. And some editing with a vision for the finished product. It *could* be really useful if it had some love. But I do not see that happening.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-the-shelf
Characterisation of the classic 'have you tried restarting your computer' use case. Good for high school freshmen. Disliked the narrative format.
Marcus Autenrieth
Insightful, funny, inspiring. Lot's of stories from the trenches to learn from, garnished with some theoretical background. Co-authored by the brilliant Jerry Weinberg.
David Fitzgibbon
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Provisional three star. Lots of mildly witty stories, but hard to mine the practical advice inside on the first attempt.

Will update if I try it again.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: programming
Nothing too earth shattering
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
An easy short read on a problem solving but compared to other works by the same author didn't get as much as I had hoped.
Tales Chaves
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The problem is not always what you think. Keep thinking. Very good book.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A book about what is your problem and is it really your problem and are you sure that you have a correct definition of the problem? And... of course, if you solve it too fast no one will actually believe you that it's solved - and tons of other stuff related to problem solving.

In the beginning I thought it's not gonna be useful to even finish reading it, but it was entertaining and now that I finished it, I have to admit it was also enlightening.

I can only recommend you t
Adam Wiggins
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
Discusses problem-solving in the abstract, with various flippant/goofy parables and images. Seems somewhat intended for a business audience, but I found it way too general to be useful.

Some quotes I liked:

- “designers — special people whose job it is to solve problems, in advance, for other people”

- “to get a fresh point of view, we can call upon almost anybody as our ‘consultant’”

But overall just couldn't get into it. Gave up a little over halfway
Franck Chauvel
This short booklet about problem-solving reviews important philosophical questions to consider before to search for solution These questions include for instance "What is the problem?", "Whose problem is this?" or "Do we really need to solve it?".

Although it reads very well, I did not find it as much thought-provoking as its reviews say.
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: at-office
This is a book anyone who is ever asked to solve a problem should read. It's a quick read, entertaining, and disarmingly insightful. Too many people go about addressing the issues they are presented with and not actually solving core problems, and this book is a good start to thinking about how to change that.
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
i tend to pick this book up again after a few months to just get back on the path of enlightenment. the author presents a way of thinking that in hindsight seem so logical that you're left wondering why you never did it in the first place.

this is one of those books you hand down to others as one of those 'must reads' if you're looking into consulting.
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
One particular thing to keep in mind when solving a problem: If you can't think of at least two other problems that the solution will cause, then you probably do not understand the problem well enough. Sure, you create other problems with the solution, but hopefully they are smaller, more tolerable, or easier to solve.
Extremely simple arguments structured around twee little narratives where everyone's name is consonant. I wasn't really convinced or engaged, and by the end of the book I felt a bit talked-down to. Meh, I say, and fie.
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Almost all of the suggestions for how to get at the root of a solution to a problem revolved around viewing the problem from other points of view. While it is very good advice, I didn't find it particularly insightful.
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
A classic that reminds us that the problem we think we're solving isn't always the problem we need to solve. A good reminder to keep searching for the actual problem - then the solution will be obvious.
Alex Railean
Very insightful and funny. I really enjoyed the book and the simple problem-solving methods it advocates.

I also like their definition of problem (delta between desired and perceived state) and it's implications.

This was a very thought provoking book.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary book on problem solving, I not only enjoyed this book but enjoyed applying the concepts in real life.

I think I am a better problem solver, more non-engineer, than before due to this book.
Alvin Svitzer
Meh. I think this book could have been condensed to 10 pages. The nuggets of wisdom for expanding your problem-solving mindset are trapped beneath pages of fluff and caricatured examples that aren't entirely applicable to the real world.
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
"Brevity is the soul of wit" - Shakespeare

While I think there are good tips in the book, I did not like the story format of the book. The book could have been a lot shorter and/or presented differently. A bit disappointed for a being a career/personal development book.
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-learning
Quick, light and interesting read. Full of good advice for consultants, software developers and other "problem solvers".
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“There's two kinds of people in the world, those that do work and those who take credit. Keep in the first group—there's much less competition there.” 3 likes
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