Living in a time of this world's history with lots of tough problems, people are looking for someone who can solve those problems. What is becoming increasingly clear is that the people on whom we're counting to provide answers don't even recognize what the real problems are. It's maddening to listen to people discuss ways to solve various problems when it's obvious that their solutions show their total lack of understanding of the root problems. They offer Band-aids for one part of the body when major surgery on another part of the body is what's actually needed.
Today's iv is several jokes that illustrate different aspects of not fully understanding the problem at hand.
When a customer left his cell phone in my store, I scrolled through his saved numbers, stopped at "Mom," and pushed send. When his mother answered, I explained to her what happened.
"Thank you, young man. Don't worry," she said, "I'll take care of it."
A few minutes later, the cell phone rang. It was "Mom."
"Martin," she said, "you left your cell phone at the convenience store."
I tell you, women drivers are a hazard to traffic. Driving along at 65 mph on the interstate on my way to work this morning, I look over to my left and there's this woman passing me in a Mustang, with her face up next to her rear view mirror putting on her eye liner!
I look away for a couple seconds and when I look back she's halfway over into my lane. It scared me so bad, first I dropped my phone, and then my electric shaver almost ended up in my coffee."
A software engineer, a hardware engineer, and a departmental manager were on their way to a meeting in Switzerland. They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt, scraping along the mountainside.
The car's occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?
"I know", said the departmental manager, "Let's have a meeting, propose a vision, formulate a mission statement, define some goals, and by a process of continuous improvement find a solution to the critical problems, and we can be on our way!"
"No, no", said the hardware engineer, "That will take far too long, and besides, that method has never worked before. I've got my Swiss Army knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car's braking system, isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way."
"Well", said the software engineer, "Before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again."
John was on duty as an emergency room technician, when a father brought in his son who had poked a tire from one of his toy trucks up his nose. The man was embarrassed, but he assured him this was something kids often do. John quickly removed the tire and they were on their way.
A few minutes later, the father was back in the ER, asking to talk to John in private. Mystified, he led him to an examining room.
"While we were on our way home," he began, "I was looking at that little tire and wondering how on earth did my son get this thing stuck up his nose and...."
It took just a few seconds to get the tire out of the dad's nose.
Now that we've laughed at some other people's problem solving skills, let's test your powers of observation in solving the puzzle below. Don't cheat! Try to figure this out before you scroll down to below the asterisks.
You're driving a bus that is leaving from Pennsylvania and ending up in New York.
To start off with, there were 32 passengers on the bus.
At the next bus stop, 11 people get off and 9 people get on.
At the next bus stop, 2 people get off and 2 people get on.
At the next bus stop, 12 people get on and 16 people get off.
At the next bus stop, 5 people get on and 3 people get off.
OK, now that you've worked your way through the problem, below is the question to which we need an answer. No looking back to the beginning of the problem or looking ahead at the solution — don't cheat!
What color are the bus driver's eyes?
The key to understanding a problem is focusing on the right information.
If we assume it is critical to keep track of the number of people getting on and off the bus, we focus on information that turns out to be unessential. It distracts us from the important information.
The answer to the problem is found in the first sentence. You are driving the bus so the color is of course the color of your eyes.
If you didn't get it right, don't worry. The majority of people don't answer correctly. If you got it right, you have some exceptional problem solving skills ... or your cheated.
Well, how did you do? Did you come up with the right eye color on that driver? Do you agree with what I say about today's "problem solvers," especially as the 2012 election season is ramping up?
"People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first." — Anonymous
"You can't believe most of the quotes you read on the Internet." — Abraham Lincoln
When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.
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