She put 8-year-old Josh on the phone, who was curious if I still owned that 200-foot climbing rope. "Why? What's your plan?"
He was trying to solve a unique problem: How to connect a long rope from the 75-ft pine tree in our yard to the roof of the house in order to slide down it as a zip line.
(NOTE: Josh has been to the emergency room more than anyone else in our sprawling, adventurous family!)
- "Problem-solving kids" are great,
- They need some skills and models to help'em,
- And society needs lots more of them!
By the way, most kids are born with this problem-solving skill.
My 16-month-old daughter observed me cursing under a desk fixing a wobbly leg with a screwdriver and now tries to "fix" everything.
It has to do with that enormous frontal lobe of ours that likes planning and strategery [sic].
What kids rarely get the benefit of is the brain power of a McKinsey consultant. Enter Ken Watanabe.
As part of the Post2Post book tour, I was invited to look at Ken Watnabe's book Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People.
Bar none, this book contains the first description of decision trees and gap analysis that I can categorize as "joyful".
In the vein of Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin, Watanabe makes the work of diagnosing problems and engineering solutions engaging, alive and accessible.
The case studies (concert attendance, Brazilian soccer camp, learning special effects animation, etc.) are geared for the target audience (kids) but the the models and processes are lifted straight from the consulting world.
As an illustrator, I was completely enamored by the doubly joyful illustrations. Triple kudos for the printing which maximizes a soulful use of 2-color printing in black and orange.
( Check out the fun on-line Flash-animated tool boxes here. )
This book is a good read and useful as a curriculum with kids--yours or others--as well as a swift crash course in basic facilitator's models that can be used in helping teams articulate root causes, brainstorm possible solution paths, and anticipate logical consequences.
Which, by the way, is what I had to do with my little brother when talking through his 200-foot McGiver zip line scheme.
"So, Josh. After you start sliding down the rope towards the roof of the house, how are you going to stop?"