A few years ago, when looking introspectively at my failures and accomplishments, I thought about characterizing people, including myself, by their attitude toward problem solving. I started with a question: Why am I attracted to work on problems that have simple formulations but no known solutions? (In this context, I define a problem very generally, as a “precisely stated question with no known prescriptive or formulaic solution.”)
Here is my (a bit tongue-in-cheek) classification of the problem solving attitudes. It comprises three categories: pyramid-builder, theory-builder, and problem-solver. No one person fits completely in any one of the categories; rather, each of us is an amalgam of the three. And, to make it perfectly clear: the categories describe person’s attitude toward problem solving – not person’s abilities. Continue reading Are you a problem solver?