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Are Your Lights On?

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  834 ratings  ·  67 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  · 
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 ·  834 ratings  ·  67 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
Vikrama Dhiman
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic start of the year. What a book!

I have read some chapters thrice already. The contrived examples draw chuckles at how real they are and how you have been solving problems without knowing you are solving one. There are 23 key lessons but I loved three specific takes:

Find out, whose problem is it.
1. We never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over
2. People seldom know what they want until you give them what the ask for
3. Find out, whose problem it is i.e. WHO has
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.
Some nice tales, but not a great eye-opening book.
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. ...more
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.
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
Artas Bartas
Apr 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all the young people at the beginning of their careers
Typically, I avoid reading business books published back in the day. Unlike fiction, business advice tends to age badly. More dedicated readers with fewer children might think that wrestling with bad economic theory, monotonous writing style, and casual sexism/racism remarks to discover a few nuggets of insight is a fair trade. Not me. I consider my time too precious (and my mental state too fragile) to be indulging in such pastimes.

As a result, I approached "Are your lights on?" with a lot of
Mar 17, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
TL;DR, great read, lots of interesting points, can be hard to follow at times, language is a little dated.

There were some great and interesting thoughts on what a "problem" is, how they arise, how you might approach them etc. That being said, there were a few times the stories didn't gel particularly well. There were even times the authors seemingly had the same though and stories would cut off with "we won't go further", making the story a little bit redundant, then it switched to a conclusion.
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 wh
Max Tang
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The first half is pure genius; the second half is merely intelligent. Overall a rather fascinating read.

1) A problem is the gap between a perceived state and desired state.

2) The trickiest part of certain problems is just recognizing their existence.

3) If you can’t think of at least three things that might be wrong with your understanding of the problem, you don’t understand the problem.

4) Don't Solve other people’s problems when they can solve them perfectly well themselves.
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. ...more
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". ...more
Giacomo Debidda
Some valuable insights, so-so delivery.
I found some good takeaways in this book, and I liked some of its chapters.
Unfortunately, most of the chapters were too verbose for my taste and I quickly skimmed through them.
Alex Fürstenau
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read. You don't often ask myself whose problem it really is but you should. Is it really your problem or is someone (your boss, spouse, kids) transferring their problem to your problem? ...more
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.
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. ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: programming
Nothing too earth shattering
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. ...more
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.
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.
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. ...more
Easy, breezy, interesting.
Wojciech Borkowski
I'd you're trying to understand problem dillema then grab that book and rethink that.

It's in a nutshell, looks like a great place to start.
Amy Marley
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant read to spark clarity of thought when presented to life. Perspective is king.

Apr 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
A perfect lazy Sunday read! Well written with bite sized stories and distilled learnings from each lesson!
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
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