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The Problem Solving Steps all Engineers Should Know

Imagine walking into a room, everyone is clamoring for answers and after a few moments you know exactly what everyone should do to fix the problem.

You deal with problems on a daily basis as an Engineer but sometimes you run into the situation where you solve the wrong problem, or senior engineers get frustrated with how long it's taking to complete a task - perhaps they gave you some vague problem statement and when you asked for some direction it was still high level because it should be "obvious".

I think where people get caught is the Senior engineers giving out tasks aren't necessarily looking to walk you through a solution, they want a problem to go away, they want to spend as close to zero brain cells on the problem (at this point in time). So your job is to make it go away and not to use their brain cycles.

But this is counter intuitive, if I don't know where to start or I take too long then that will also be frustrating since the problem will still be there.

Correct. So you are caught in between a rock and a hard place. But it's not the worst and we can certainly equip ourselves with the skills we need to handle these situations.

What's the situation?

Problem Solving and reducing our "mean-time to solve". There's a spectrum of problems one can consider and if you realize this you can see that more complex problems do require more time to solve - there's an "expected" time to solve. So you want to perform in such a way that you are below this line as much as is practicable.