Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Problem Solving 101

Problem Solving 101 may not look like a book that we would find in the business and management shelf in a book store. In fact, I wouldn't know this is a management book if I didn't read about it in The Star's business section.

This book started as a simple guide to help schoolchildren in Japan develop critical thinking skills. The author uses his experience working with McKinsey, one of the world's most renowned management consultants, to introduce decision-making tools that have successfully applied in the business world, using a very simple and enjoyable approach.

Now before you think that that Ken Watanabe wrote this book, let me clarify that this Ken Watanabe is Kensuke Watanabe, not Ken Watanabe the actor from movies like The Last Samurai and Batman Begins.

Watanabe tells three stories in which he slowly guides readers in using the decision-making tools (I personally prefer the word method, because I think tools are things, not something abtract). The tools he introduces doesn't require anything more than some paper, a pencil and our wonderful brain.

The first story is about a rock band called The Mushroom Lovers who are worried about increasing the number of people attending their concerts. Watanabe starts off with main aspects of problem-solving like finding the root cause of a problem. In this case The Mushroom Lover must figure out the reasons why people come again or not come again to their concerts.

In the following story, an octopus named John decides to become a Hollywood CGI (computer graphics imagery) movie director after being blown away by a movie he watched with his friend, Sarah, a squid. But before that, he needs to get himself a computer so he can learn the basics of CGI.

And in the final story, we follow Kiwi, an aspiring football player who dreams of becoming professional. To make that dream come true, she must decides on which football school in Brazil she wants to attend.

Did I tell you that I wouldn't know this is a management book if I didn't read about it in The Star's business section?

The pages are delightfully illustrated by Allan Sanders, making this book appealing to virtually all ages (not something we can say about most management books). Being a management book, it is a bit pricey, but still worth the price in my opinion considering that it's in hard cover. I hope the publisher would release a cheaper soft cover edition soon. This is definitely one of the most cheerful management book I've ever read.

Check these out:
[ Problem Solving 101: the website ]
[ The website of illustrator Allan Sanders ]


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