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Problem Solving 101

Ken Watanabe’s interesting book simplifies several different problem solving strategies to a child’s level.

Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People

Ken Watanabe was a consultant for McKinsey, one of the world’s leading consulting firms. This is a firm that consults to multinationals, governments, and other very large, complex, organizations. You would think that they would know a thing or two about problem solving. What Watanabe has done is simplify several different problem solving strategies to a child’s level. Literally. But it works. The “case studies” in this book include a middle-school rock band trying to increase audience attendance at its concerts. Did you know, there is a lot to learn from a guitar-playing eggplant? As this book was originally written to help Japanese students become “problem solving kids” (instead of becoming a “Miss Sigh” or a “Mr. Critic”), Watanabe infuses fun into this book, while its characters struggle with making decisions and conducting root-cause analysis. However this book is not just for Japanese kids. It became a run-away hit in Japan, as adults purchased it for their own use as well. Now available in English, it is a great primer on problem solving. While the examples may be more appropriate for a child’s world, the techniques illustrated are not dumbed-down, and adults will find them useful for any number of decisions and problems. Enticing illustrations, easy-to-interpret graphics and practical examples make this much more than a school text–it is a great office companion, and maybe a thoughtful gift for your nearest and dearest teenager.