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PofE 007: Are You A Systematic Problem Solver?

Problem_Solving “We lift ourselves by our thought; we climb upon our vision of ourselves. If you want to enlarge your life, you must first enlarge your thought of it and of yourself. Hold the ideal of yourself as you long to be, always, everywhere – your ideal of what you long to attain – the ideal of health, efficiency, success.” Orison Swett Marden (1850 – 1924)

  • He never attended college because of his mother’s illness and an accident in which he lost a number of teeth while playing hockey in high school.
  • He loved a technical challenge and was an above average student.
    He was a veracious reader who devoured books on history, literature, and science.
  • He and his younger brother opened a bicycle shop and, within 4 years, they were making their own bikes.

Wilbur Wright 

Who was Wilbur Wright?

  • Wilbur Wright was born in 1867 as the son of Milton Wright and Susan Catherine Koerner. He and his brother Orville developed the entrepreneurial spirit very early throughout their lives. 
  • His highest level of education was high school, so his advanced studies were obtained as a self-educated man. As a fervent reader, he developed a number of key concepts that led to the development of a better bike and the key components that enabled man to create the first flying machine.
  • Wilbur grew up in Ohio and developed a hobby of watching birds where he noticed that they used specific techniques for taking off and landing. This curiosity inspired him to read numerous books about birds to better understand their aerodynamic features and techniques.
    He gleaned insights from authors such as Samuel Langley and Lilienthal who wrote the book Animal Machines.
  • Wilbur and Orville discussed their findings and wondered if they could build a machine on a larger scale that would enable them to fly in the same manner as birds.
  • Because of Wilbur and Orville’s willingness to continuously search for new answers to this problem of flight, they developed the first successful flying machine and created probably the most important invention in transportation history.

What can we learn from Wilbur about problem solving?

1)      Personal Application:

a)      Wilbur understood that developing problem solving skills is one of the most important competencies he could acquire for his personal life and career. Think of it this way: the bigger the problems you are able to solve, the bigger the person you have to be to solve them. The bigger the problem, the more credible you become as a leader. The bigger the problem you solve, the more value you add to others and the more profitable you will become.

b)      Here are some best practice steps for solving problems consistently whether in your personal life or career:

i)        Problem Solving Framework:

(1)    Document and clearly articulate the problem.

(2)    Identify everyone involved.

(3)    When did the problem occur?

(4)    What changed in the environment that may have caused the problem?

(5)    Identify the real problem/root cause; learn to distinguish between a symptom and the fundamental problem.

(6)    What are 3 options that are possible solutions to this problem?

(7)    What is your recommendation?

ii)       There are also a number of other tools that are available to assist you in resolving problems. These tools are:

(a)    Fishbone Diagram

(b)   Pareto Diagram

(c)    Cause and effect diagram


Principles of Execution Key Concepts:

  • Wilbur Wright
  • First Flying Machine
  • Problem Solving

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