First, seek to understand the problem

Emergn - get growing - sun showing through a forest of trees

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

It’s amazing how much time is spent inside companies managing lists of solutions, requirements and features. This normally involves getting funding for ideas, setting up teams to deliver solutions and governing the whole process. You can see evidence of it when you see projects and system names with TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) or some funny set of letters that spells an amusing name. Once these sorts of projects get past an approval point, they’re almost never questioned again (until they go wrong!). The teams who are commissioned to build the system or deliver the project are not normally the same people who figured out what the problem was at the beginning or framed the original solution. This is a mistake. Spending time with the team to thoroughly explore the problem space and allow them to test for understanding is a great use of time.


The quote at the top has been connected to Einstein and other scholars . It seems it is something there seems to be a general agreement that more time should be spent on truly understanding a problem. In your own area try to spend the majority of the time ensuring the whole team deeply understand the problem they’re working on. Once there’s a good understanding, then move on to solving the problem.