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Smart Thinking for Crazy Times

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Smart Thinking for Crazy Times

The Art of Solving the Right Problems


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

In business, there's nothing worse than solving the wrong problem.

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Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


In this book, Ian Mitroff attacks problem-solving by defining the first step: asking the right questions. He shows you how to use critical thinking skills to find the right problems, frame them correctly and implement appropriate solutions to solve or resolve them. This book is thoughtful and well-organized, just as you might hope it would be since it teaches critical thinking. It is also well-written and well-illustrated, featuring numerous diagrams that illuminate better ways of thinking. Mitroff includes examples of well-known companies which have made major mistakes that cost millions of dollars because they failed to recognize the right problem in time. He also gives examples of companies that succeeded through improved critical thinking and problem identification. recommends this interesting book to all business problem-solvers.


Why Critical Thinking Is Important

Critical thinking is important because many managers fail to make the right decisions. Manager are prone to getting caught up in management fads, which can be attractive since management isn’t an exact science. It is easy to be swept along, particularly when those around you are carried away as well. However, this kind of thinking can be fatal, resulting in major losses and destroying the future of companies.

Using "critical or smart thinking" is the only completely foolproof way to avoid getting caught up in these wrongheaded fads. This is the approach to making better decisions. With this method, you cut through complex issues by asking the right questions and solving the right problems. This gives you a competitive edge over most managers. The biggest mistake most managers make is "solving the wrong problem precisely," an outcome which results from muddled thinking.

The Four Steps to Solving a Problem

  1. You acknowledge or recognize that a problem exists.
  2. You frame or formulate the problem.
  3. You discover a solution to the problem.
  4. You ...

About the Author

Ian Mitroff is a well-known author and thinker in business and management. He is the author or co-author of The Unreality Industry: The Deliberate Manufacturing of Falsehood and What It is Doing to Our Lives, Break-Away Thinking: How to Challenge Your Business Assumptions, and Framebreak: The Radical Redesign of American Business. He is currently professor of business policy at the University of Southern California Graduate School of Business. He is the founder and former director of the USC Center for Crisis Management and an active consultant for Fortune 500 companies and major governmental and non-profit agencies.

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