Analytical and Problem Solving Skills

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The difference between an art and a science is subtle but significant. An art form is based on the intuitiveness of the person performing the work, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to pass on to another human being. For example, apprentices serving under an artist may try for years to emulate the master, but may never attain his level of skill and creativity. In contrast, a science is based on a governing body of concepts and principles and, as such, can be easily taught to others.

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I have been very fortunate to see a lot of this history first hand. I have observed changes not just in terms of systems and computers, but also how the trade press has evolved and the profession in general. It has been an interesting ride.

Throughout all of this, there have been some very intelligent people who have impacted the industry, there have also been quite a few charlatans, but there has only been a handful of true geniuses, one of which was Robert W. Beamer who passed away just a couple of years ago. Bob was the father of ASCII code, without which we wouldn't have the computers of today, the Internet, the billions of dollars owned by Bill Gates, or this document.

I always find it amusing when I tell a young person in this industry that I worked with punch cards and plastic templates years ago. Its kind of the same dumbfounded look I get from my kids when I tell them we used to watch black and white television with three channels, no remote control, and station signoffs at midnight. It has been my observation that our younger workers do not have a sense of history; this is particularly apparent in the systems world. If they do not have an appreciation of whence we came, I doubt they will have an appreciation of where we should be going. Consequently, I have assembled the following chronology of events in the hopes this will provide some insight as to how the systems industry has evolved to its current state.

I'm sure I could turn this into a lengthy dissertation but, instead, I will try to be brief and to the point. Further, the following will have little concern for academic developments but rather how systems have been implemented in practice in the corporate world.

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Just how important is it to fully develop your project’s requirements? After all, nailing down your requirements usually takes only 8% to 15% of your overall project effort. Truth be told, it’s not really something you’ll want to spend your resources and energy on—unless, that is, you care at all about the quality of your pr...
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Author: Derrick Brown and Jan Kusiak This extract from IRM’s training material looks at how systematic, creative thinking techniques can be used to design practical solutions to business problems. The first step in developing a solution is to identify and define the problem - see the IRM paper Problem Analysis Techniques. Using the problem definit...
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This extract from IRM's training material looks at how a structured approach to defining and analysing problems can be used as the basis for designing better solutions. Part 1 of this paper looks at problem definition. Part 2 introduces the reader to analytical techniques for determining the root cause of a problem. Future papers in this series wil...
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