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.

The Wine Trials

The Wine Trials is an upcoming book that describes of a series of blind tastings that I took part in last year. The tastings were great fun. We were encouraged to come up with creative, uncensored descriptions of wines. I thought one of the wines tasted like cat pee. The book recommends 100 wines under $15 that beat $50-$150 wines in the tastings.

I’m all about the cheap wine, like the 3-buck chuck from Trader Joe’s, or the 4-dollar Spanish table wine I got from JUSCO when I lived in Japan. These days, I get my cheap wine from Fresh Direct. They have a great 7-dollar vinho verde and an 11-dollar cava that are regular fixtures of my wine stash.

This week’s issue of Newsweek has an article about the book on page 12 of the magazine, the text of the article is also online.

You can pre-order copies of The Wine Trials from Amazon.com.

Guide to E-Advocacy

PolicyLink.org's guide to e-Advocacy, Click Here for Change: Your Guide to the E-Advocacy Revolution is an excellent primer to e-Advocacy for newcomers to the field, as well as helpful reference guide to more experienced campaigners. The guide gives a brief overview of the history of online organizing, outlines the technological tools and strategies for campaigning both online and offline, and provides case studies as a point of reference.  

The guide is written from a US perspective for organizing in a US political context, but the strategies and case studies contained within can be applied to e-Advocacy in an international context too.  Avaaz.org is trying to do this very thing, by taking the successful strategies of groups like MoveOn.org in the US domestic political arena and applying it in an international context.

Click here to download the PDF version of the PolicyLink guide to E-Advocacy

Amy and David Goodman Booksigning

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On Wednesday, I volunteered to pass out fliers outside of the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Union Square to promote Amy and David Goodman's reading and book-signing of their new book, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back.  Amy Goodman is an award-winning journalist and anchor of Democracy Now!, a defiant bastion of independent journalism.  

Amy and David's talk about the injustice and needless suffering of innocent people in the so-called "War on Terrorism" moved me to tears.  Now, as I read the book, I am finding my anger – my anger towards the government and the media for their propaganda campaign to suppress democracy and the truth in this country and around the world.  Amy and David's talk and book have really motivated me and reminded me why I am an activist. 

Both the book and the news program are worth checking out. Get informed, get angry, and take action. 

Democracy Now! 

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