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Are Your Lights On?
How to Figure Out
What the Problem Really Is

by Donald C. Gause and Gerald M. Weinberg

ISBN: 978-0-932633-16-3  
©1990  176 pages   softcover  
$13.95 (plus shipping)

Subject(s): Requirements Engineering, Systems Analysis

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An Invaluable, Practical Guide for
Everyone Involved in Product and Systems Development

About the Book

The fledgling problem solver invariably rushes in with solutions before taking time to define the problem being solved. Even experienced solvers, when subjected to social pressure, yield to this demand for haste. When they do, many solutions are found, but not necessarily to the problem at hand.

Whether you are a novice or a veteran, this powerful little book will make you a more effective problem solver. Anyone involved in product and systems development will appreciate this practical illustrated guide, which was first published in 1982 and has since become a cult classic.

Offering such insights as "A problem is a difference between things as desired and things as perceived," and "In spite of appearances, people seldom know what they want until you give them what they ask for," authors Don Gause and Jerry Weinberg provide an entertaining look at ways to improve one's thinking power. The book playfully instructs the reader first to identify the problem, second to determine the problem's owner, third to identify where the problem came from, and fourth to determine whether or not to solve it.

Delightfully illustrated with 55 line drawings, the book conveys a message that will change the way you think about projects and problems.


"This is one of the funniest, yet helpful books in print. The authors do a great job in making difficulties into anecdotes while providing helpful and valuable advice."

 —Charles Ashbacher
posted on Amazon.com

"In a highly readable evolution, the authors present insights on problem identification and practical approaches which will be of immeasurable aid to the manager.

"Although the material is serious, the treatment is neither stodgy nor unnecessarily technical. It is a down-to-earth approach to the managerial problems of the '90s."

 —Jim Van Speybroeck
Data Processing Digest

"Another wonderful and whimsical book from Gerald Weinberg and Donald Gause."

 —Barry Kornfeld
Sound Bytes

"Full of great little tips and tricks. . . . at just over 150 pages it is easy to digest. It serves as a great introduction to problem solving.

"If there is one thing I learned from Are Your Lights On? it is that people don't do a very good job at problem solving. Like usability, while problem solving seems so obvious in retrospect, it is actually quite difficult. . . .

  "As Don Gause and Gerald Weinberg point out, each solution is the source of the next problem. It is very likely that you are only working on a few links in an entire chain of problems. The scope of your problem must be chosen with great care.

"Are Your Lights On? is a great book and I highly recommend it."

John S. Rhodes

"Almost all of our training and experience is focused on how to get the answer; how to find a solution to a well-defined problem. In real life, most of our time is spent trying to fit the current mess around us into something that looks like a problem we might know how to solve. In Are Your Lights On? Gause and Weinberg offer one of the few books (and fortunately one of the best) on ways that you might go about investigating, understanding, and defining what you are dealing with to turn the present mess into a problem that can, in fact, be solved."

—Jim McGee
consultant and author of the weblog McGee's Musings

Table of Contents

Dorset House Catalog
This Book's Flyer

By this Author
Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design

Rethinking Systems Analysis & Design, by Gerald M. Weinberg

Also Recommended
Complete Systems Analysis: The Workbook, the Textbook, the Answers, by James Robertson and Suzanne Robertson
General Principles of Systems Design, by Gerald M. Weinberg and Daniela Weinberg
The Practical Guide to Business Process Reengineering Using IDEF0, by Clarence G. Feldmann
Process for System Architecture and Requirements Engineering, by Hatley, Hruschka, and Pirbhai
To Satisfy & Delight Your Customer: How to Manage for Customer Value, by William J. Pardee

How to Order

To order this book by credit card directly from Dorset House in New York, please call (800) 342-6657 or (212) 620-4053, weekdays, 9am to 6pm. Alternatively, print out our Faxable Order Form and fax to (212) 727-1044.

To order this book from an online bookstore, please see above.

To purchase at a bookstore, contact our Recommended Booksellers to verify availability. Any store can order from Dorset House using the book's title and ISBN number. Also, bookstores can order our books through Baker & Taylor.

We'd like to make it easy for you to order, so please contact us at any time for help!

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