The Dual Approach to Solving Problems

After reading some books and blogs on decision making, pscyhology, problem solving and the like, I found a very strong emergent theme: an effective way to approach problems, especially problems where other people come into play, is to approach it in two distinct ways, simultaneously.

One is to approach the problem by analyzing the rational factors, and the second is to approach it “non-logically” by analyzing the irrational, emotional factors and “the short-circuits in the brain”.

Some examples of where this duality is identified are Kahneman’ System 1 and System 2 dichotomy and Rory Sutherland’s logic vs. psycho-logic modes of perception, Munger’s Two Step Decision Making Process, etc.

This approach seems common sense but I think it’s (1) is very easy to forget, (2) not applied everywhere it can and should be, (3) and is far more powerful than it seems.

One: Understand the Rational Forces at Play

Two: Understand the Emotional/Subconscious Forces at Play

Poker Analogy

Poker is a useful analogy here: like life, outcomes in poker depend on other players as well as rational decision making, logical analysis and statistical thinking. Many people have talked about poker being a metaphor for life and I think its a fairly approximate one.

One: compute probabilities, use ranges, GTO, etc. Second: being aware of and exploiting psychological factors such as fear and greed, “playing the man”, wishful thinking, etc.

Sources and Further Reading

Alchemy, by Rory Sutherland

Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Youtube Video: Problem Solving with Rory Sutherland