[The Story] Overcoming Difficult Problems

In last week’s brainstorming update to “The Story,” I covered how main characters Trishna and John (left) would clash. Even the most connected people clash, after all, especially when both are fiercely independent. It’s about balance: if one is more comfortable jumping into the fray than thoroughly researching, let them perform their strengths to build a more cohesive team. Let’s see how they solve problems, and how teams solve problems, in this Applied Psychology crossover:

Spoiler Warning Scale: None! (just brainstorming)

Trishna’s Problem Solving
When given a difficult problem, Trishna will closely follow the scientific method. She’ll gather meticulous information about the problem, research probable solutions, then execute a plan of action for testing hypotheses. Her process, before working the problem, involves: researching in books or search engines, writing down research notes, visualizing it completely, and using a mindmapping program to consider the difficult problem from different angles. This process works out well for her, for the most part.

Trishna’s Analysis Paralysis
The trouble comes in when Trishna encounters multiple hypotheses that did not resolve the problem. She’ll get frustrated, won’t remember to ask for help, and self-doubt will sink in. She may completely scrap her progress and start from scratch. John learns to catch onto this, especially when they’re collaborating on the problem, and he’ll help draw her out of that ultra focus on the problem. Once out of that focus, the answer usually appears plainly.

John’s Problem Solving
When given a difficult problem, John loosely follows the scientific method. He’ll quickly gather as much relevant information about the problem as he can, research possible solutions, then act. His process involves relying on his instincts about how the world works to find resolutions to problems and writing notes along the way or during lull points. This process usually works well for him, though his average resolution time would be about the same as Trishna’s.

John’s Time Sinks
The trouble comes in when John tries all the easy resolutions and still hasn’t fixed the problem. He’ll keep on plugging away, though, even if it’s in the completely wrong direction. Trishna learns to catch onto this, especially when they’re collaborating on the problem, and she’ll start throwing hypothesis life rafts to John to pull him out of the time sink waters. Once back on a solid platform, the answer usually appears in close proximity.

Their Collaborative Process
In online games or ‘real life situations,’ for fictional characters at least, they’ll play to each others strengths while compensating for weaknesses. John is reflexive, so he’ll jump into the problem, while Trishna provides backup support. When John becomes out of his depth and needs to switch out, Trishna researched the strategic breadth to solve the problem, whether it’s beating a boss or fixing a mystery leak. They solve problems more efficiently together than alone.

Troubleshooting (Psychology) Analogy
Both are valid troubleshooting styles. I like being meticulous, though reflexiveness has advantages, namely avoiding one pitfall of mine: analysis paralysis or spinning my mental wheels.

My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)