Quotations about   problem-solving

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You can judge a leader by the size of the problem he tackles — people nearly always pick a problem their own size, and ignore or leave to others the bigger or smaller ones. The chief executive should be thinking about the long-term changes which will bring growth or decay to different parts of the enterprise, not fussing over day-to-day problems. Other people can cope with the waves, it’s his job to watch the tide.

Jay - watch the tide - wist_info quote

Antony Jay (b. 1930) English writer, broadcaster, director
Management and Machiavelli: An Inquiry into the Politics of Corporate Life, ch. 17 (1967)
Added on 15-Feb-16 | Last updated 15-Feb-16
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One lesson the arts teach is that there can be more than one answer to a question and more than one solution to a problem; variability of outcome is okay. […] The arts teach children that their personal signature is important and that answers to questions and solutions to problems need not be identical. There is, in the arts, more than one interpretation to a musical score, more than one way to describe a painting or a sculpture, more than one appropriate form for a dance performance, more than one meaning for a poetic rendering of a person or a situation. In the arts diversity and variability are made central. That is one lesson that education can learn from the arts.

Elliot Eisner (1933-2014) Academic, researcher, professor of art and education
The Arts and the Creation of Mind, ch. 8 (2002)
    (Source)

Variant: "The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution; questions can have more than one answer. If they do anything, the arts embrace diversity of outcome."
Added on 29-Jul-15 | Last updated 29-Jul-15
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Solutions nearly always come from the direction you least expect, which means there’s no point trying to look in that direction because it won’t be coming from there.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Salmon of Doubt (2002)
Added on 29-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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If this stone won’t budge at present and is wedged in, move some of the other stones around it first.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Austrian-English philosopher
Culture and Value, 1940 (1977) [tr. Winch (1980)]
Added on 27-Apr-15 | Last updated 27-Apr-15
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The older I get, the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first — a process which often reduces the most complex human problems to manageable proportions.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
“Let’s Be Honest with Ourselves,” Reader’s Digest (Dec 1963)
Added on 13-Apr-15 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (1934) [tr. Hull (1959)]
Added on 23-Mar-15 | Last updated 23-Mar-15
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In reactive problem solving we walk into the future facing the past — we move away from, rather than toward, something. This often results in unforeseen consequences that are more distasteful than the deficiencies removed.

Russell L. Ackoff (1919-2009) American organizational theorist, consultant, management scientist
The Art of Problem Solving (1978)
Added on 12-Mar-15 | Last updated 12-Mar-15
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Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

[In tranquillo esse quisque gubernator potest.]

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 358
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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It is not always by plugging away at a difficulty and sticking at it that one overcomes it; but, rather, often by working on the one next to it. Certain people and certain things require to be approached on an angle.

André Gide (1869-1951) French author, Nobel laureate
Journal (26 Oct 1924) [tr. O’Brien (1951)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Dec-14
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