Problems. Let’s face it, we all have them.
And we’d all like less of them.
Yet, we are never taught how to solve them effectively at school.
As a result, problem solving is a skill that is in high demand. Whether it’s in your current job or at home, your life is guaranteed to become a lot easier if you can get better at it.
The good news is it isn’t a talent limited to the lucky few.
It’s actually a skill and habit you can learn and here are five books to set you off on your merry way:
1. Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe
Originally written to help Japanese school children learn how to be better problem solvers, this book ended up as the county’s best selling business book of 2007.
Watanabe uses three fun and simple-to-follow case studies to illustrate various practical tools and methods you can start using straight away. As its name implies, Problem Solving 101 is a short, easy read that offers a good introduction to the craft.
2. Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger by Peter Bevelin
Peter Bevelin has done us a great favour by gathering together the practical wisdom of some of the world’s greatest minds and putting it all in one book. It covers everything from the way our minds evolved to the psychology of misjudgement and how we can become better thinkers.
As well as trawling the history books for timeless insights from distinguished thinkers like Confucius, Richard Feynman and Michel de Montaigne, Bevelin has also consulted the minds of top level thinkers like the billionaire investor Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger.
It’s the type of book that you should probably return to every once in a while to keep your problem solving skills razor sharp.
3. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
One of the greatest challenges we face when solving problems is our own mind. We are prone to many cognitive biases; more than 180 of them to be precise. These ‘impediments’ of thought lead us to think irrationally or illogically, which makes us less effective.
Dobelli’s book references a number of fascinating real world examples of how the most common biases we suffer from impact our thinking. Just being aware of them will make you a better problem solver by helping you to recognise and avoid your own blind spots.
4. One Step Ahead: Notes from the Problem Solving Unit by Stevyn Colgan
Stevyn Colgan spent thirty years in the Metropolitan Police. Twelve of those were spent as part of Scotland Yard’s award-winning Problem Solving Unit, a specialist team with an extraordinary brief: to solve problems of crime and disorder that were unresponsive to traditional policing methods. His book shares some amazing true stories of problem solving in action and is a joy to read.
It’s one of the most interesting books we’ve read in recent memory and will equip you with endless fodder for dinner party conversations.
5. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
Konnikova has written a brilliant and very thorough book that examines the mind and ways of thinking of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s most famous character. It’s a little dense at times but it’s worth persevering with for all the brilliant nuggets contained within.
Holmes is one of the world’s most proficient problem solvers and Konnikova highlights the key characteristics that make him so effective. Highly recommeded.
Can’t wait for the books to arrive? Then check out our ‘Think Like Sherlock’ online master class taught by a former Scotland Yard detective. You won’t regret it.