Books about problem solving
June 5, 2020 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a book about problem solving. Not problem solving in a particular domain, but more of a methodical approach, with common pitfalls, outlined in a manual-like format that could serve as a reference guide.

Here's an example of what I'm looking for, but I want more of a full length book, not a course.

I am partial to the military-esque books like this, as they are very pragmatic, but most of them seem to be more like "how my lessons from the army apply to business," whereas I want problem solving itself to be the focus and not leadership.
It should be outlined in a manual-like format that could serve as a reference guide.
posted by deathpanels to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
If a book with cartoons in it is ok, try Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe.
posted by matildaben at 8:52 AM on June 5, 2020

You might like The McKinsey Mind and The McKinsey Way, both of which are about how the firm frames problems and attempts to answer client's questions.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:57 AM on June 5, 2020

Smart Choices looks like a self-help guide but it's a decision making framework. I got introduced to it through my biology/ecology background and it’s used by USGS among others. If you have access to academic journals, the authors have written articles too.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:32 AM on June 5, 2020

Best answer: You might like Thinking In Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows
posted by jquinby at 9:50 AM on June 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Polya’s How to Solve It is originally about math, but I find the heuristic widely usable.
What is the unknown? What are the data? What is the condition?
posted by clew at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Not a book, and math... but this final episode of 3blue1brown is about problem solving: Tips to be a better problem solver [Last lecture] | Lockdown math ep. 10.

It's mathy but the steps mostly apply to anything. Same for the following...

I previously posted this: How does pure mathematics apply to our daily lives? and you should take the time to watch.

Sorry, no actual book recommendation.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:15 PM on June 5, 2020

When I took a problem solving class in undergrad, this was our required book Conceptual Blockbusting.
posted by lizjohn at 12:40 PM on June 8, 2020

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