Don’t overthink it!

“I’m the science officer, it’s my job to have a better idea.”
Dax in Star Trek DS9: “Paradise”

As important knowledge is, one frequent problem that comes with knowledge is that you might overthink an issue. The following comic strip sequence from “Girl Genius” (highly recommended) exemplifies this problem for me. A couple of very smart “genius scientists” strap an ill person to the table and try to cure him, but during the process something goes wrong and the controls fuse:

Scene from the webcomic “Girl Genius”. The first panel shows the patient whom the ‘genius scientists’ try to save — when suddenly the controls fuse. The guy with the full beard who pulls the plug is a lab technician (aka minion) and the only ‘normal’ person in the room.

Sometimes there are really simple solutions that can be achieved by stepping back from a situation. As important as it is to understand the situation it’s something to keep in mind. On the other hand, it might be that the obvious simple solution a non-expert might reach is not a workable solution. Or to use another quote:

For every problem, there exists a simple and elegant solution which is absolutely wrong.
J. Wagoner, U.C.B. Mathematics

In the situation above, for example, imagine that cutting the power would definitely kill the patient due to shock — you have to do it gradually, so pulling the plug would not work (with the intended results). But even then you could build on the simple solution by going to the power generator itself and reducing the power output there.

So don’t get caught in a situation, but be critical when you evaluate whether the simple solution works or not, and if not, look whether you can use it as inspiration/starting point. 😉