Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Have you tried solving the problem?

As delivered at the 2016 New Relic Engineering Offsite

Have you tried trying?
Have you tried shouting at it?
Have you tried removing the time limit?
Have you tried adding a time limit?
Have you tried phoning a friend?
Have you tried paying someone else to deal with the problem?
Have you tried thinking about a different, larger problem instead?
Have you tried running toward the problem while screaming?
Have you tried the solutions that are only available when no one is looking?
Have you tried making the problem into a brand?
Have you tried Craigslist?
Have you tried politely asking the problem to be less problematic?
Have you tried offering the problem the resources it would need to solve itself?
Have you tried the soaking pool?
Have you tried coding up a universal problem solver?
Have you tried fixing things seemingly unrelated to the problem and seeing if the problem mysteriously vanishes?
Have you tried re-creating the problem in a different context? How different?
Have you tried scoffing at the youthful idealism of those who believe the problem can be solved?
Have you tried becoming part of a network of problem solvers so that each problem can be solved by the person most suited to solve it?
Have you tried emitting a strangled wail of horror and confusion?
Have you even tried?
Have you tried several partial solutions together?
Have you tried making extremely visible preparations for solving the problem, in the hopes that it will be intimidated and flee?
Have you tried grepping the codebase for the problem, looking for an explanatory comment?
Was the comment yours?
Have you tried making the problem worse? Or was that commit yours?
Have you tried solving the problem by giving a lightning talk about creative problem solving methods?
Have you tried trying to solve the problem accidentally, but accidentally solving it on purpose?
Have you tried attempting to lose the problem while unadvisedly racing through a dangerous asteroid field?
Have you tried solving the problem... ironically?
Have you tried looking at the problem with deep concern until finally breaking the silence with "It's probably the outgroup's fault?"
Have you tried unfollowing the problem?
Have you tried hiring the problem to afflict your enemies?
Have you tried making the description of the problem into an unutterably powerful spell so people will not talk about it?
Have you tried a training montage and climactic final battle with the problem?
Have you tried the solution that was inside you all along?
Have you tried taking the wizard's advice he gave you in the beginning?
Have you tried... oh, you have? That too? Wow... maybe talk to Ward.

Thanks to Grognor and Michael Nielsen

For other problem-solving ideas: Oblique Strategies, TRIZ

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