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Are Your Lights On?

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  737 ratings  ·  56 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 129 pages
Published (first published 1982)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  737 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Jon Mountjoy
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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: "Once the rumor
Henry Ho
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 solution / blindly go along with
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.
Ivanu Karamazoshi
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.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A nice way to re-frame your approaches to solving problems. Written in the style a book from 1982 could only produce.
Some nice tales, but not a great eye-opening book.
Several anecdotes about solving problems.
It shows several more ways to think about the problems.
One of my favourite points in this book is - "EACH SOLUTION
Andrew Strenn
As a book on general problem solving, it was pretty entertaining. It was thought provoking, but I didn't learn anything too dramatic.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is about problem-solving.

There's a series of situations presented, in each of them the problem evolves in terms of complexity. In some of the situations presented certainty is peeled off from the problem statement and the solution. So in the end it turns out that neither the problem statement was correct, nor the solution was correct, even though the process starts with one "solution" and then iterates through more and more failed "solutions" (some of them borderline absurd), none of
Wanderson Ferreira
Very nice book. Often I ask some questions about what is the nature of the problem that I am solving with. I think this book sheds some light in this dilema by explicitly asking you: What the problem really is? Who the problem is affecting? This is a problem for everybody involved? All this questions are often not considered and many "solutions" only creates different problems (often harder than the original one). I am re-reading it in the next year for sure.
Muhammad Ali
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt Malin
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet - surprisingly entertaining and fun. Not quite what I was expecting (in a good way) and also does provide some thought provoking ideas, particularly on considering "who really has the problem".
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.
Easy, breezy, interesting.
David Fitzgibbon
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.
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.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: programming
Nothing too earth shattering
Tales Chaves
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The problem is not always what you think. Keep thinking. Very good book.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 to read it if you didn't
Adam Wiggins
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 through.
Franck Chauvel
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: creativity
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 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 22, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit disappointed in Gause's and Weinberg's book. The text was entertaining but I expected more in-depth analysis to problem solving from such internationally known experts. The book was like a collection of miscellaneous notes accompanying a slide presentation.

However, I liked the story which explained the title of the book.
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
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