Problem Solving

Now it should go without saying that your engineer is a problem solving machine. It seems to be the reason he’s alive! In truth, when he’s solving problems is when he feels most alive.

Surely there’s no catch here?

Are you kidding????   Nothing about your engineer is straightforward and completely positive.

Look again at the system overview at the top of this page. There are two inputs and two outputs. For both, one is good, and the other – not so much!

First, when he’s in problem solving mode, your engineer will be tempted to live solely on coffee, feeling that all he needs is another 5 minutes to find the magic bullet that will make this issue go away. It makes no difference that he’s been awake for 28 hours consecutively, and can no longer speak in coherent sentences (assuming that he could speak in coherent sentences before). Find a way to keep him from hurting himself through this period of high focus. We’re not sure how you can do this, because we’re still suffering the damage of years solving problems this way!

Coffee has one positive impact on the problem solving process. Being a stimulant, it allows the brain to connect ideas that have not previously been connected in your engineer’s mind. This increases the likelihood that he’ll find ideas worth pursuing in the attempt to solve the problem, and is good news!

But, the downside to the coffee diet during your engineer’s problem solving splurge is that it frees the limitations of his conditioned mind, connecting ideas that should NEVER have been connected in your engineer’s mind! This is VERY BAD news, believe us!

Your engineer has the emotional maturity of a 6 to 8 year old girl and an intellect superior to almost everyone he knows – at least in his own mind! The concern here is that your engineer usually has other people around, trying to help him fix the problem. Those people might actually have the courage to offer a suggestion. This suggestion distracts your engineer from his detailed analysis of a potential solution that is amazingly complex. As a result, he knows he’s going to need to backtrack over the same logic again, clearly slowing the entire process down.

Using his logic, he decides he should find a way to stop the distractions to speed up the problem resolution time frame. Good, so far! But then, using his emotional maturity, he finds the worst possible way to stop the distraction – usually a sarcastic comment about the other individual having the problem solving capability of a gnat, with a detailed accounting of his or her ancestry!

There is a slight possibility (okay a strong likelihood) that these comments may not be carefully designed to foster an increasing sense of camaraderie within the team trying to address the problem.

The net result is, after your engineer does the inevitable and fixes the problem, that he discovers he isn’t getting the adulation he feels is deserved. He comes home elated about solving the problem, but somewhat confused about the muted reception – which he completely fails to understand.

In the end, your engineer’s problem solving ability is both his gift and his cross to bear. He will continue to be employed because he can fix problems, but won’t scale to the heights of management that should be his due, given his contribution, because he can’t control the sarcasm.

Does it help knowing this? Not really! That’s why he’s your gift and your cross to bear!

Smile! It’ll keep him guessing!