Problem Solving is Purity of Thought

by Greg Twemlow, Founder, SEVENmile Ltd

Do you agree? "It is better to solve the right problem approximately than to solve the wrong problem exactly."* I was delighted to read this quote attributed to a 20th-century mathematical genius.

One of the key learnings of a program that we deliver to high school students is the importance of the difference between a problem and a symptom. Many adults don't understand the difference or why it's so significant.

The path to an adequate solution is littered with symptoms hiding in shadows to ambush your attention.

The consequences of failing to appreciate how symptoms masquerade as problems are incalculable. Mental energy and funds are commonly applied to solve symptoms while the underlying problem remains untouched. The symptom is managed and the problem remains untouched.

Students are prone to jumping into solution mode whenever they confront what appears to be a problem. That generally means they lean toward using Social Media as a preferred panacea.

d energy is devoted to solving symptoms.

Enterprise in the Community© learning program by SEVENmile Ltd

The SEVENmile experiential learning program, Enterprise in the Community, ensures students appreciate the difference between a symptom and a problem and spend more time understanding the problem than devising the solution.

The reality for business owners is that they work to get to an 80% solution as quickly as possible rather than take much longer to achieve a 100% perfect solution.

Problem analysis is just one of many crucial life skills students develop during the SEVENmile program. John Tukey's perspective is an important validation of the SEVENmile curriculum.

"It is better to solve the right problem approximately than to solve the wrong problem exactly." — John Tukey

*John Wilder Tukey (/ˈtuːki/; June 16, 1915 – July 26, 2000) was an American mathematician and statistician best known for developing the fast Fourier Transform (FFT) algorithm and box plot. He coined the term 'bit' and the first published use of the word 'software.' Tukey retired in 1985. He died in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on July 26, 2000.

Author: Greg Twemlow

SEVENmile Ltd Founder and CEO, Greg Twemlow