THE SCIENCE OF HOW TO GET THINGS DONE

If you want people to be able to do something complex, you need to provide them with the tools. Here’s an example of the basic methodology for solving an unstructured problem.

  • “What is the problem we are trying to solve?”
  • “The problem we are trying to solve is that …”
  • What’s a win? How would you know if you succeeded?
  • Do you have to solve it now?
  • Do you have the data to solve it now?
  • How much time do you have to solve it?
  • Understand the physics of the system: Why does the problem arise? Why is it intractable?
  • Distance yourself emotionally
  • Reason through robust statements
  • Raise your frame of reference from the problem. Go up 1-2 levels
  • Take variables off the table
    Relax constraints
  • Play it forward. Think 2-3 steps ahead. Run simulations in your mind.
  • See the likely future: What is likely to happen if …
  • Sequence the proposed solution practically: prioritize / triage
  • What can you do right now that improves your situation?
  • Build things to not fail in the first place
  • Will the solution persist on its own?
  • Plan for entropy and evolution: know there is no finality

You can teach people how to do this. That’s what we do, and it’s why we build things that work.