Bad problem solving costs individuals and society incalculable amounts of time, money, and sanity. In this book Nat Greene—who’s been solving hard problems professionally for over twenty years—shares nine behaviors anyone can adopt to find solutions to even the most seemingly intractable problems.
The problem with most problem solving, Greene says, is that it’s not problem solving at all: it’s guessing. We have an idea of what might work and we try it out. If that doesn’t work, we try something else. And so on. It’s inefficient at best, and with really hard problems there are simply too many variables for guessing to work. Greene shows you how to adopt the behaviors great problem solvers use to arrive at solutions efficiently—without guessing. He illustrates them with examples ranging from everyday issues like fixing a malfunctioning garage door to stopping frequent breakdowns at a chemical plant (saving millions of dollars) to addressing the scourge of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. So stop guessing and start solving today!
About the Author
Nat Greene is a cofounder and CEO of Stroud International, which has solved dozens of “impossible” technical problems for clients across the world. He is focused on helping people make radically better decisions and believes spreading great problem solving is core to this goal.
“This is a charming book that crisply captures the discipline necessary for efficient problem solving. Reading it reminded me of bad habits I had developed myself. I recommend it to every engineer (and married person or parent!).” —Sanjay Sarma, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Vice President for Open Learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Nate’s approach works—it has been proven many times through actions within the multiple companies that I have had the privilege to lead.” —Gregg Tanner, CEO, Dean Foods
“Nat Greene offers a different way to understand your really hard problems and find simple, actionable solutions that work. I heartily recommend this book!” —Jesse Lyn Stoner, coauthor of Full Steam Ahead! and founder of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership
“Stop Guessing presents a way of tackling hard problems. It is not a recipe book—rather, it identifies a set of behaviors that are essential to be successful at cracking those problems that do not readily submit to guessing a viable solution. These behaviors are not difficult to learn but are essential when dealing with those frustrating challenges. No, you will not work miracles, but some might think that you do! This book is now on my reading list for all my students, as it will enable them to be more effective in their future careers.” —Malcolm McCulloch, Professor, Engineering Science, Oxford University
“I’d recommend this book to anyone involved in industrial problem solving. This approach should help readers get to the right answer quickly and with much less wasted effort.” —Tim Ridgman, Course Director, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge
“Having known Nat for fifteen years, I know he possesses a deep passion for solving problems, especially those more difficult and previously unsolved. In Stop Guessing he addresses the worthy cause and power of leveraging our human capital and capability to convert from firefighting to proactive and permanent solutions by leveraging people’s potential as problem solvers. He effectively addresses the inhibitors to and realities of owning and embracing the solution. He embraces the art of the possible.” —Greg Smith, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain, US, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
“I am so in awe of how Nat’s mind works to create solutions to really challenging issues. I am so glad he took the time to share what he knows with us through Stop Guessing.” —Diana Chapman, coauthor of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership and cofounder of the Conscious Leadership Group
“Vigorous, optimistic, and approachable. Nat shows us a robust approach that can empower people to take a confident, active role in solving problems. Readers who master this approach will save time and money and improve their self-esteem.” —Dan Rosenthal, Radiologist, Massachusetts General Hospital
“If you love endless meetings, excuses, and doing your best or simply want to cement your status quo, buy another book. If you want to solve complex problems, buy this one.” —Bernard Rzepka, CEO, Industrial Firm
“Greene’s framework is an essential arrow to have in your quiver—whether you are battling weather in the Himalayas or hostile takeovers in the boardroom.” —Patrick Sweeney, Adventurer and Three-Time CEO
“I see the challenges described in Stop Guessing all the time, at every level of business. It’s a no-brainer to teach these behaviors to people of all ages: people will be much more likely to succeed where they currently struggle.” —Nick Gee, Director, Leading Global Bank
“Through sharing his vast experience, Nat Greene clearly shines a light on why so many problem-solving efforts fail. I highly recommend Stop Guessing for those charged with solving problems!” —Clay Hood, Vice President, Supply Chain, North Atlantic Consumer Products Company (retired)
“Throughout history, science has continued to reveal that the human mind is more capable than previously imagined. In this highly approachable work, Nat Greene pushes this frontier by giving us direct access to powerful problem-solving intelligence based on adopting a set of defined behaviors. All those who read this book will find themselves empowered, living with a greater sense of ease, and amazed.” —Jim Fallon, Technology Executive and Entrepreneur
“Clear and concise. Nat Greene has provided expert insights from his consulting practice into how to solve daily problems—his how-to bible is a must-read for busy executives who need to stop guessing!” —Susan Livingston, Partner, Banking
“Rarely do books fundamentally change the way one looks at life’s headaches, but this straightforward guide empowers us with simple steps to avoid the pitfalls most encounter when struggling with a persistent challenge. Problems ranging from the enormous to the mildly annoying can be solved when employing Mr. Greene’s techniques. There is nothing inherently complicated about his approach; it simply requires discipline and the willingness to resist shortcuts. I find myself newly encouraged to tackle the problems that have been riddling my life for far too long!” —Mark Anderegg, CEO, Little Sprouts
“Stop Guessing is a pragmatic and quick read providing valuable techniques for problem solving at all levels. What I found particularly valuable was the focus on universal behaviors common with great problem solving.” —Dave Burns, Vice President, Supply Chain, Nestlé Waters North America
“I’ve always thought of myself as an excellent problem solver. However, Stop Guessing helped me realize I could be much better.” —Mat Varghese, Product Manager, Google