Friday, August 1, 2014

Problem Solving Using The Four Principles Of Common Sense



Song:  I've been Searching So Long

Group:  Chicago


My wife had taken these pictures near our home a few days ago.

I had chosen to include them because the included song is one of my sunset songs
(what I listen to in my mind as a sun sets)...
as well as one of the songs I hear when I come to a realization
(although I had realized these principles long ago...
I taught them to Alex on this night).



Today...
we went out to eat at a local Vietnamese / Chinese restaurant.

After eating...
we drove to a local specialty food store so my wife could go shopping
(Alex and I waited in the car).


 On the drive to the food store...
I had asked Alex to plug in our GPS unit and to turn the volume down on it.

I got upset when he hadn't truly listened to my words.

I had told him to hit the lower left portion of the screen once...
and to then adjust the volume.

He had pressed and HELD his finger on the described portion...
then when the screen hadn't reacted...
he pushed it multiple times.

This, of course, had caused the program to skip the needed screen...
and put it into an unrecoverable mode so long as he continued pressing.

I got upset because he had not only NOT listened carefully to my words
(hit never means to press and hold)...
 he had further exacerbated the situation by entering variables he could not 
account for as they were too quick to establish cause and effect
(panic mode).

Although this may seem like a small point...
and so, nothing to get upset at...
not being able to follow simple instructions
can be the difference between life and death
in certain situations.

Alex has a habit of not listening to the full set of instructions carefully 
before moving into action.

Words have meaning...
and to, essentially, inaccurately paraphrase the words which were actually spoken...
 may lead to inaccurate, and possibly disastrous, actions.

A person MUST be able to follow simple instructions in life... with precision.

In order to do so...
he must listen very carefully to the EXACT wording.

If people do not say exactly what they mean...
it is their fault.

I choose my wording very carefully...
as will his supervisors in the future.

If he is to be trusted to accurately complete tasks...
he must listen and observe extremely carefully.


As we sat in the car waiting for my wife to do her shopping...
I had given Alex the essence of common sense and problem solving...
and the use of the four principles of problem solving using common sense...
and I had illustrated them using history and hypothetical situations.



Essence of Common Sense:  

The ability to guide one's actions
through the use of a simple set of prioritized principles
which may be applied to all of life's basic scenarios.




Essence of Problem Solving


I reiterated the steps of problem solving:

1)  Knowing there is a problem...through the disruption of a pattern...
or will be one...through the projected scenario by thinking it through...
and identifying it.

2)  Knowing how to solve it using the basic four principles of common sense.



The Prioritized Four Basic Principles of Common Sense:

1)  Safety (Long Term Over Short Term)

2)  Effectiveness

3)  Efficiency

4)  Quantity of Quality


These principles may apply to almost any situation.

These principles may be used to establish business strategies...
or something so simple as thinking through one of many daily activities.

I had cancelled a biking trip in the mountains
due to a probability of rain clouds on that particular day.

To have gone would have violated the first principle...
safety (possible lightning strikes)...
and so, moving forward in the principles would have proved moot.

For someone to not consider the possibility of death (first step)
and instead had concentrated on having a day's fun...
would have them effectively blocking the rain by using rain gear (second step)...
being more efficient by using Gortex for more comfort (third step)...
and going at a slower pace but for a longer period of time
so they could enjoy the sights (fourth step)...
all the while risking it all on that day because they had skipped the first step.


All of life is a ratio of risk / cost / benefit.

Through correct prioritization of the principles...
the correct balance may be established automatically.

Having correctly identified a problem...
you come up with solutions by prioritized principles.

You simply don't move to the next step until the previous one has a solution.

Through the step by step process...
a viable solution may be modified so long as it does not violate the previous principle.

I had used a nearby grocery store as an example.

I gave a hypothetical scenario of the store having worn out tiles...
no air conditioning...which led to wilted produce and moldy bread...
and high prices in an attempt to make short term profits.

I explained that the store's condition was the result of an inept manager
who had chosen to sacrifice the long term for the short
(attempting to save the immediate electrical costs of the air conditioning...
the initial cost of new tiles and the recurring cost of maintenance...etc.).

I then explained that as a result of his short term thinking...
he had instituted what he thought was an effective solution
because he had not considered the prioritized principles of common sense...
and had instead...skipped the first principle...
and had come up with an erroneous solution...
one which would destroy that which he sought to protect.

As a result...
he had fewer and fewer customers...
and his store would be entering an unrecoverable death spiral
should he not make the necessary changes...
in the correct order of priority.

I then had Alex explain what he would do in that scenario
using the principles I had taught him.

Alex said that he would keep the air conditioner on to keep his products fresh...
that he would replace the tiles and keep everything clean 
to give his store the look of freshness...
and that he would lower his prices.

I said that by doing so, he had saved his store from closing
by ensuring its survival through the taking of a long range view
by investing in higher costs to prevent a much higher amount of loss
(Safety / Long Term Survival).

I said that with the prioritization of long term over the short...
an effective solution could then be engineered.

By the store concentrating on solutions which directly addressed
the identified problems...they could then institute an effective solution.

By investing in clean and comfortable conditions...
and by lowering the prices...
the store could keep themselves from losing customers and produce (effective solution).

By finding out the optimum temperature to keep the store at...
ways to prevent heat transfer from the outside (insulation)...
proper maintenance of floors...
the use of automatic water spritzers on the produce...etc....
streamlining of future costs could be effected
(Efficiency of the effective solutions may be established).


By doing market research...
they could undercut their competition by just the right amount in all areas
 so they could actually make more through volume.
A good idea has to be applied widely enough to affect the bottom line
(Quantity of Quality).


I further illustrated my point of the necessity of a quantity of quality
through the mistake the German war machine had made in WW II
with the design of their tanks.

They had the undisputed king of all tanks at the time...
 in the design of their Tigers.

They had the deadliest guns...
the best armor.

They were the highest quality tanks.

However, due to the complexity of their production...
they could not produce them in the quantities necessary to make a significant
impact on the war.

Russia, and the U.S., had tanks which had just enough quality to be able to 
stop a Tiger...if they could get close enough to them...
and with the right angles on their shots in the right areas...
which they did using swarming tactics.

The allied tanks were simple enough to produce quickly...
and in high quantities.


The key is knowing the necessary amounts of quality...
and having the necessary numbers in quantity...to be the most effective.
Knowing the correct ratio is key.

Having the highest quality is meaningless unless it can be in enough quantity.
Conversely, mere quantity is meaningless without enough quality.

I illustrated this by using his study habits as an example.

Were Alex to just skim through his reading
instead of fully digesting the material...
although he would have covered a lot of pages...
the quality of his reading would not be sufficient enough.

If Alex were to take extensive notes on his reading...but only did it just before a test...
he wouldn't be able to retain the knowledge...as it would merely be regurgitation.


I further illustrated my point by telling him the proper order of military planning
(small unit operations).

The very first thing you plan for...is the escape route (safety).

If you don't have one...
there is no need to do any further planning.

Pick another time...
another place, or another mission.

Very few missions are so critical that a target must be eliminated
without regard to the unit's survival.

Yet...
throughout military history...
countless lives have been unnecessarily sacrificed
due to a commander's lack of application of 
the four prioritized principles of common sense.

Without a prioritized set of principles to guide the thought process...
people often focus on one effective solution (to the wrong problem)...
without regard to the long term...
no matter how terrible it is...
because they think there is no other.

There is almost always a better way to solve a problem...
if the correct prioritization of problem solving is followed.

Each step eliminates unnecessary variables...
limits possibilities to probabilities...
limits probabilities to plausibilities...
and ultimately points to the correct solutions...
because the correct problems are considered in their correct order.

(My wife had taken this photo a few days ago 
as we were about to enter a restaurant in town).


The impact of the intensity of colors when they come alive...
 the accompanying feeling of standing in the chilled rarefied air at 10,000+ feet
while hearing great orchestral symphonies (or a great classic rock song  :) 
in the MP3 of the mind...
these are the sensations one gets when a principle in life is realized.

It is when patterns in life are seen with crystal clarity...
and everything makes sense.

Principles are guides in life.

They are arrived at through simplification
of the unnecessarily complicated.

They allow the fulfillment of concepts
by laying out the paths to take...
while being infinitely adaptable to almost any situation.


The application of principles is important...
but the ability to conceive principles in life...
to be able to simplify the complex...
this is true understanding...
and THIS is my goal for Alex.


He already does this with his understanding of Math.
I just need to have him apply this method of understanding to life.

I will go into the development of truisms (principles)...
in a later article.





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