Problem Solving

Engineering at the leading edge is primarily about problem solving. People have ideas, but don’t know how to implement them, or they may have a device or design that doesn’t work and no idea how to fix it.

This is where Engineers have value. They are able to translate ideas into reality, or understand how a system is supposed to work to allow them to establish why it doesn’t.

Red Horizon Services have 30 years of experience in this field, and have developed an effective strategy for problem solving. Sometimes the shotgun strategy may yield faster results, however the Red Horizon approach always yields results.

  • Have a hypothesis. The first one is probably wrong. But prove it!
  • A contrary hypothesis fine- sometimes the answer is opposite to the obvious.
  • Two wrongs can make a right!
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘put it out there’. People will enjoy proving you wrong.
  • Repeatedly divide the problem space
  • Multiple issues can be hard to solve
  • Be methodical
  • Don’t trust previous results – repeat them if the circumstances are different. Repeat them if the circumstances are the same.
  • Record how you performed an experiment
  • Do some research to understand the problem. Buy a book, read a datasheet. Read Wikipedia.
  • Try to avoid making assumptions. But if you do, test them. Most of them will be wrong.
  • Record your journey.
  • You don’t need to be a genius to solve a hard problem.
  • Every problem has a solution. You just have to have the belief that you can find it. The journey may be difficult, and indirect, but keep driving.
  • Take advice from other people, but consider it carefully.
  • Don’t take a short cut. You’ll have to do it properly at some stage anyway, so do it when the time is right.
  • Explain things simply. It’s better to patronise your audience than confuse them. And you might be grateful for a simple explanation when you refer back in the future.
  • Own up to mistakes.
  • Take lots of measurements – see if patterns emerge. Can the pattern be used to predict future results?
  • Remember Murphy’s Law is real.