Customer Review

115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What makes people poor problem solvers?, September 23, 2002
This review is from: The Logic Of Failure: Recognizing And Avoiding Error In Complex Situations (Paperback)
Dietrich Dörner is an authority on cognitive behavior and a psychology professor at the University of Bamberg, Germany. His research shows that our habits as problem solvers are typically counterproductive.

Probably our main shortcoming is that we like to oversimplify problems. Dörner offers a long list of self-defeating behaviors, but common to all of them is our reluctance to see any problem is part of a whole system of interacting factors. Any problem is much more complex than we like to believe. And failure doesn't have to come from incompetence. The operators of the Chernobyl reactor, as Dörner points out, were "experts." And as experts, they ignored safety standards because they "knew what they were doing."

Dörner identifies four habits of mind and characteristics of thought that account for the frequency of our failures:
1. The slowness of our thinking-We streamline the process of problem solving to save time and energy.
2. Our wish to feel confident and competent in our problem solving abilities-We try to repeat past successes.
3. Our inability to absorb quickly and retain large amounts of information-We prefer unmoving mental models, which cannot capture a dynamic, ever-changing process.
4. Our tendency to focus on immediately pressing problems-We ignore the problems our solutions will create.

Successful problem solving is so complex that there are no hard-and-fast rules that work all the time. The best take-away from the book (and this is my favorite quote): "An individual's reality model can be right or wrong, complete or incomplete. As a rule it will be both incomplete and wrong, and one would do well to keep that probability in mind." The book is 199 easy-to-read pages, and Dörner gives lots of interesting examples from lab tests illustrating people's actual behavior in problem-solving situations.
It's a thought-provoking book for anyone whose job is to tackle complex problems. In one way or another that includes anyone in just about any profession.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Los Angeles

Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,750