See Think Solve: A Simple Way to Tackle Tough Problems

Brainstorming and design thinking are great. But you, your team or your students need a more targeted way to solve complex problems. Social science holds the key.

We just released a new book.

Written by our friends and long-time collaborators Jeff Leitner and Andrew Benedict-Nelson, and designed by me and the Foossa team, See Think Solve is a simple guide to difficult problems.

Originally developed for a social work PhD program at the University of Southern California, it is written in an easy-to-read, jargon-free style for anyone interested in better understanding human behavior and how to design products, services, and programs that shift collective norms and culture. The ideas in the book have really shaped our consulting and teaching practice.

From the Introduction to See Think Solve:

The main reason problems are hard to solve is that they involve people. People are funny. They don’t always believe the things they say they believe or do the things they say they are going to do. They can act one way in one situation and act completely differently in another situation. No one has ever completely figured this out. We call this the ‘mystery of human behavior.’
The mystery of human behavior shapes almost every problem worth solving.
That’s the bad news. But there’s good news too. The mystery of human behavior also helps us see problems in new ways. By paying attention to people, we can discover new aspects of problems that help us solve them more effectively.
The nine steps in See Think Solve are designed to do just that. They will help you make sense of the mystery of human behavior that surrounds all tough problems.
– The first six steps are about seeing — each of them shows you a new thing to look for in human behavior.
– The next two steps are about thinking — each one is a tool you can use to better understand the human behaviors you have observed.
– The last step is about solving — it describes what you can accomplish with your newfound knowledge.”
See Think Solve Color Palette
See Think Solve Color Palette

About the Design

When planning the design for the book, we wanted to communicate both “simplicity” and “humanity.” The book is meant to be a simple guide to difficult social problems. To reflect this intention, we created an iconography that references both the periodic table of elements and the New York City Subway signage system by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. The icons serve as a kind of way-finding for readers of the book and help them remember each of the steps in the See Think Solve process. To add a rich, humanistic feel to the visuals, we chose a color palette derived from traditional Japanese art and design. The book cover also features subtle curves on a dark grey background, which are meant to evoke a topographical map or electromagnetic waves.

Spanish-Japanese Eggs

Today for brunch, I created a mash-up of two of my favorite egg dishes: Spanish tortilla, a thick omelet with potatoes, and Japanese tamagoyaki, a rolled omelet infused with a slightly sweet soy and dashi broth.

In place of regular potatoes, I use satsumaimo, a kind of Japanese sweet potato that is whiter and a bit firmer than American sweet potatoes. Of course, you can use whatever sweet potato you can find. I pre-cook the satsumaimo with a kind of delicate simmering technique called nimono before incorporating it into the omelet.

The recipe takes a bit of time to make from scratch, but the techniques are simple. I think it’s worth the effort and the perfect way to impress your family and friends with a fresh take on the usual weekend brunch fare.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 4-5 dried shiitake (mushrooms)
  • 1 handful of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 1 satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato), substitute the American kind if you can’t find the Japanese kind
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • sesame oil
  • 8 medium organic eggs
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • yuzukoshō (a kind of Japanese fermented green chili and citrus peel paste)
  • soy sauce
  • mirin (sweet rice wine) and sake
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sesame seeds
  • red chili flakes/cayenne pepper
  • pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • brown sugar, salt and pepper

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1. Make Broth

  • Rinse the shiitake, kombu, and ginger and place in a medium saucepan with about a liter of cold water.
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook gently for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  • Pick out the kombu and mushrooms and reserve. Leave in the ginger.
  • Bring to a boil and toss in the katsuobushi. Turn off heat, let cool for 10 minutes and strain. Discard katsuobushi and ginger.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and sugar, 1 tablespoon each of mirin and sake. Add salt to taste. It should be salty and a bit sweet but not too overwhelming.

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2. Prepare Satsumaimo

  • While the broth is simmering, cut the satsumaimo into 1/4 inch-thick half moons. Leave the skin on, but trim off any dried-out or dark bits.
  • Soak the satsumaimo slices in cold water until ready to use. This removes some of the extra starch and prevents oxidation, which turns the sweet potato brown.
  • Drain the satsumaimo slices from the cold water and simmer in the broth from the previous step for 15-20 minutes until soft but not falling apart. Remove satsumaimo from cooking liquid, reserving some of the broth.

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3. Make Topping

  • While the satsumaimo is simmering in the broth, prepare the crunchy mushroom and kombu topping.
  • Thinly slice the kombu and shiitake reserved from the broth making.
  • Heat about a teaspoon of the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add in the sliced kombu and shiitake along with the sliced garlic.
  • Season with a few pinches of red chili powder and/or cayenne, freshly grated black pepper and sugar. Add a small splash each of sake, mirin, and soy sauce.
  • Cook until liquid is absorbed and mixture looks dark and crunchy. Sprinkle on white sesame seeds.

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4. Final Assembly

  • Whisk 1/4 teaspoon of yuzukoshō and the scallion in about 1/4 cup of the reserved simmering liquid. Beat in the eggs.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast iron pan on a medium flame and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the egg mixture, then add a layer of the satsumaimo slices. I had some extra sweet potato that I saved for another use. Then add the kombu and mushroom mixture on top.
  • Continue cooking on low heat until edges look slightly solid. Finish in the broiler (1-2 minutes). The eggs should still be a little runny in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pimentón, and serve. Enjoy!

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#FoossaFinds – 6 August 2014

#FoossaFinds curates insightful readings, awesome events, #SpiritAnimals, and other inspiration. Look for it weekly. Reposted from Foossa.com/blog.

ARTICLES

Hitchhiking robot is halfway across Canada
Brandon Griggs, CNN
“Part performance art, part social experiment”

Who Stole the Four Hour Workday?
Nathan Schreiber, Vice
How do we undo the “nationwide amnesia” for an alternative American Dream?

Why Fender’s Interactive Design Team Wireframes Its Site By Hand
Tina Amirtha, Fast Company
Pen + Paper = Analog Oldies but Goodies.

How Successful People Stay Calm
Travis Bradberry, TalentSmart
Breathe, sleep, and a little bit of perspective.

There’s a Bizarre New Selfie Trend in China With an Uplifting Message
Tom McKay, Mic.com
#SelfieFeminism #Flawless

VIDEO

Obama Campaign Designer On How To Create A Winning Political Brand

EVENTS

TEDxGramercy | Grit 
Saturday, 27 September 2014, 4-8 PM, Mason Hall, Baruch college, 17 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010
Get early-bird tickets and suggest speakers.

#SPIRITANIMALS

National Geographic: Can airlifting rhinos out of South Africa save the species?
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Buzzfeed/Bored Panda: Japan’s Shiba Inu shop assistant.
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Gutai: Splendid Playground Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum

Gutai: Splendid Playground presents the creative spectrum of Japan’s most influential avant-garde collective of the postwar era. Founded by the visionary artist Yoshihara Jirō in 1954, the Gutai group was legendary in its own time. Its young members explored new art forms combining performance, painting, and interactive environments, and realized an “international common ground” of experimental art through the worldwide reach of their exhibition and publication activities. Against the backdrop of wartime totalitarianism, Gutai forged an ethics of creative freedom, breaking through myriad boundaries to create some of the most exuberant works and events in the history of Japanese and international avant-garde art.

The Gutai: Splendid Playground exhibition runs from February 15–May 8, 2013 at the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition includes a free interactive mobile app, featuring voiceover narration by ME!

JETAANY is organizing an informal group outing to see the exhibition on Saturday, March 16 during “pay as you wish” admission hours from 5:45 pm-7:45 pm. Feel free to arrive anytime and explore the museum at your own pace. I will be at the museum at 5:45 pm on the 16th if you would like to meet up.

RSVP on Facebook (Optional)

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Win a free trip to Japan (no purchase necessary)

Via the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) website:

“Spring 2012 will be a special season as it marks the centennial anniversary of Japan’s Gift of Trees to the U.S. To celebrate this anniversary, we’re giving you and a guest the chance to explore Japan inside and out. Read through all 6 itineraries, pick your favorite, and enter for your chance to win your dream vacation!”