Problem-Solving made Easy!


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You’ve heard that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, correct? This is the synergistic nature of things. It just so happens that the reverse is also true – that the sum of its parts is lesser than the whole. What this means that we should tackle a problem by deconstructing it, than attacking it headlong.

In 2001, Takeru Kobayashi set his first Guinness Book of world records in competitive hotdog eating. At the age of 23, Kobayashi downed 50 hotdogs in 12 minutes in Nathan’s Coney Island Hotdog Eating Contest, when only 26 hotdogs would have brought him the record. He has since gone on to set 5 more Guinness records and won several world titles in competitive eating.

How did he do it?

He separated the hotdog from the bun. He broke the dog in two so that it would be swallowed faster and easier. He then dipped the bun in warm water and oil, rolling it into a bun and swallowed that, jumping up and down in what would be termed the “Kobayashi Shake”. This method flew in the face of the normal convention of hotdog eating, and has brought Kobayashi worldwide fame.

In a similar way, when we are faced with a problem, we shouldn’t go it headlong in conventional means to solve it. Fly in the face of convention and deconstruct the problem. When you take it piece by piece, and then address each element of the problem on its own, firstly, you get to see more things about the problem, and you also get to find new angles and solutions.

Second, you can also address the issue in less time. Instead of sequentially addressing the problem, waiting for the solution to settle, finding out that it might not have created the right outcome, and then refocusing on a new angle, costing you both time and effort, you do it simultaneously on all the parts. This will significantly reduce your solution time.

Lastly, you get to involve more people, “crowdsourcing” the solution. By giving different parts of the problem to different people to solve, you engage more people, opening up the quality and speed of your solutions.

All these point to a very unique and expedient way to solve a problem. So the next time you’re faced with a humdinger of a problem, don’t fret. Just take it apart, and crowdsource a solution for each. You will be humming along just fine in no time!

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