Very helpful book and I give it 5 stars for easily fulfilling its purpose, i.e. an introduction to many of the problem solving techniques, and I highly recommend it for that purpose. This book does not go into a comprehensive discussion of the various techniques, nor was it intended to, but it does give a very good introduction to each and you can research further those techniques you would like to use. I have researched some of them on the internet (free of charge).
He categorizes the techniques by function (in other words, he presents the various techniques in the particular stage of the problem solving process in which they are most effective) and gives you an excellent summary in the Appendix.
I have read quite a few books on Problem Solving / Decision Making and they all come down to Divergence and Convergence, or Creative and Critical thinking. One book I read (Psychology of Intelligence Analysis) made the very good point that creative and critical thinking are both absolutely necessary in the problem solving process, however, in his words, they do not mix well. You must consciously and diligently halt all criticism and judgment, no matter how small, during the divergent phase of the problem solving process - "deferred judgment". This is the foundation for any productive brainstorming session, or even any individual analysis of a problem. There will be plenty of time to evaluate later on.
This book functions as a brainstorming session...it presents many ideas and approaches, and allows you to review each one and determine which is best for your situation. Many of the techniques in this book, and any other problem solving book, are really just different variations of brainstorming sessions (larger or smaller groups, an extra step or two, limitations on one thing or another, a change in procedure, etc..) which is OK too. Most problem solving techniques are either brainstorming sessions of some sort, or techniques designed to force you to lay aside your preconceived opinions and study a problem from different angles (yes that is a major simplification).
The book is organized and formatted very well. The information is presented in an interesting manner and never gets boring. Most of the sections are short and sweet, and what few times he goes beyond a couple pages is by necessity. I really liked the "Summary of Steps" that are throughout the book and the mini case studies were nice as well. Personally, I would like to have seen at least a couple extended case studies, but that was not the purpose of this book.
One of my favorites is the Delphi technique. I have actually used a form of it several times in my work before I even knew it was a technique, and I suspect many of you have used it too in an informal way. I have had some good success with it and believe it to be an excellent technique in any stage of the problem solving process, whether I am dealing with professionals, layman, mechanics, or bozos.
Very helpful, well written and well-organized book. The $15 or so for the book is a great investment for your career or business. I am sure there are more comprehensive books that cost alot more, but this one fulfills it purpose nicely.
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