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Old 05-21-2010, 04:23 PM
 
8,668 posts, read 6,342,850 times
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How does one solve problems? Is there a method to the madness?

For example: Two people embark on making something, say a German Chocolate Cake. When done, one cake looks and taste a lot worse than the other. How does one go about solving the reason why the two cakes look and taste different?

Well, first one must determine the factors that go into making the cake. The two factors that go into making a cake are the PROCESS and the INGREDIANTS. The process represents the steps or recipe one does chronologically while the ingredients are the nature of the physical food items.

Once one determines all the input factors, the question then becomes WHAT WAS DIFFERENT. Either the process was different or the nature of the ingrediants was different. If it is discovered that a different process was used, such as the number of eggs, the amount of flavor, the amount of flour or the temperature of the oven, does it not stand to reason that the different process led to the different outcomes?

Would it be logical, knowing that all those things were different in the process, to argue that the end result was not rooted in the process, but rather, the nature of the ingredients, but not establishing evidence that there is a difference in the nature of the ingrediants or why?

This model works for nearly all problems solving where on one hand you have an example of something that works and an example of something that does not work. The answer is ALWAYS embedded in WHATS DIFFERENT and WHY ITS DIFFERENT? To ignore the differences is to ignore the answer.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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Yes, but sometimes people think they know what all the differences are when, really, they've omitted some. For example, there is more affecting the outcome of the cake than process and ingredients. Environment and factors associated with the ingredients also play a part - altitude, fresh or older eggs, temperature of ingredients, quality and age of ingredients, etc.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,574,557 times
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I have long been an advocate of the concept of "Understanding Tolerances". When setting out to do something, it is important to have a good sense of how well it needs to be done. If you set your tolerances too fine, a great deal of time and effort will be wasted meeting a tolerance that is not necessary for the finished work to be good enough. On the other hand, if you set your tolerances too loose, it will end up looking like Homer Simpson's spice rack---i.e., not good enough, and you might as well have not done it it all.

To use your cake analogy, one person wastes time and effort making it too perfect, when the kids are just going to come home from school and tear into it. The other person makes it not good enough, and even the kids won't want it, except for its pure sugar content. The successful baker will make a cake that is "good enough" for the circumstances, and then get on other accomplishments.

So, aside from Process and Ingredients, the cake that meets specs requires a realistic overview of what is to be accomplished, and an efficient evaluation of reaching that objective. That is the Human element, the part of it that falls under the control of the person who is applying the Process and the Ingredients, which are immutable constants.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:49 PM
 
126 posts, read 52,443 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indentured Servant View Post
How does one solve problems? Is there a method to the madness?

For example: Two people embark on making something, say a German Chocolate Cake. When done, one cake looks and taste a lot worse than the other. How does one go about solving the reason why the two cakes look and taste different?

Well, first one must determine the factors that go into making the cake. The two factors that go into making a cake are the PROCESS and the INGREDIANTS. The process represents the steps or recipe one does chronologically while the ingredients are the nature of the physical food items.

Once one determines all the input factors, the question then becomes WHAT WAS DIFFERENT. Either the process was different or the nature of the ingrediants was different. If it is discovered that a different process was used, such as the number of eggs, the amount of flavor, the amount of flour or the temperature of the oven, does it not stand to reason that the different process led to the different outcomes?

Would it be logical, knowing that all those things were different in the process, to argue that the end result was not rooted in the process, but rather, the nature of the ingredients, but not establishing evidence that there is a difference in the nature of the ingrediants or why?

This model works for nearly all problems solving where on one hand you have an example of something that works and an example of something that does not work. The answer is ALWAYS embedded in WHATS DIFFERENT and WHY ITS DIFFERENT? To ignore the differences is to ignore the answer.
It is pretty illogical to think that eggs, flour, flavoring etc., are process and not ingredients.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:00 PM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
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German Chocolate Cake, huh? Why not White Sheet Cake?

Racist.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:00 PM
 
8,668 posts, read 6,342,850 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquamaster View Post
It is pretty illogical to think that eggs, flour, flavoring etc., are process and not ingredients.
Thats true as presented. What I meant was the numbers or metrics associated with each food product. Such as the number of eggs, the number of cups of flour....and what order those things were added.

I don't really know because I have never made a cake.....lol.

Addendum: Actually after reading my OP again......I stand by what I said. I did actually say what the proces represented early on in the post. It represents the metrics or instructions of what is to be carried out.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:15 PM
 
126 posts, read 52,443 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indentured Servant View Post
Thats true as presented. What I meant was the numbers or metrics associated with each food product. Such as the number of eggs, the number of cups of flour....and what order those things were added.

I don't really know because I have never made a cake.....lol.

Addendum: Actually after reading my OP again......I stand by what I said. I did actually say what the proces represented early on in the post. It represents the metrics or instructions of what is to be carried out.
I was thinking more along the lines of what you did with the eggs, as in did you mix them with the sugar, or dump them in with the milk etc.,

Happy baking.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:19 PM
 
15,616 posts, read 9,162,577 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omaha Rocks View Post
German Chocolate Cake, huh? Why not White Sheet Cake?
Because German Chocolate cake is so much yummier - in fact, it's what we had as our wedding cake
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:27 PM
 
Location: San Antonio/Houston
33,599 posts, read 51,807,704 times
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First of all German Chocolate Cake does not taste the same everywhere, which does not mean that every each could taste great, just different.
Commercial cooks measure ingredients and go pretty much by the book.
Most people at home do it “by the feelings” (intuition, logic and experience) and the cake taste and looks might vary each time they bake it.
There could be also an element of trying a different approach or improvising.
If the cake is to sweet, next time they will use less sugar; if it is burn on the bottom – they will set the oven temperature a few grads lower. Those approaches lead to “experiences” - many trials to get successful. Common sense will be used, intuition, knowledge how stuff works and imagination about outcome.
Back to the cake.
If you are talking about someone who is going to bake the cake “by the book”, had all right ingredients, and make sure that everything is measured right including the oven temperature – the outcome should be every time pretty much the same.
Every variation will lead to difference.
Normally when there is any problem, a person will analyze the cause based on evidence and come to conclusion about how to solve it. However not every conclusion is correct. Logic not always works either. That’s why some problems take many trials until solved. Intuition and logic are two strategies for prediction and problem solving. This complex process will construct experience.
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:57 PM
 
8,668 posts, read 6,342,850 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elnina View Post
First of all German Chocolate Cake does not taste the same everywhere, which does not mean that every each could taste great, just different.
Commercial cooks measure ingredients and go pretty much by the book.
Most people at home do it “by the feelings” (intuition, logic and experience) and the cake taste and looks might vary each time they bake it.
There could be also an element of trying a different approach or improvising.
If the cake is to sweet, next time they will use less sugar; if it is burn on the bottom – they will set the oven temperature a few grads lower. Those approaches lead to “experiences” - many trials to get successful. Common sense will be used, intuition, knowledge how stuff works and imagination about outcome.
Back to the cake.
If you are talking about someone who is going to bake the cake “by the book”, had all right ingredients, and make sure that everything is measured right including the oven temperature – the outcome should be every time pretty much the same.
Every variation will lead to difference.
Normally when there is any problem, a person will analyze the cause based on evidence and come to conclusion about how to solve it. However not every conclusion is correct. Logic not always works either. That’s why some problems take many trials until solved. Intuition and logic are two strategies for prediction and problem solving. This complex process will construct experience.
In scientific methodology, when discoveries are made or claim to be made, it has to be able to be reproduced time and time again ustually by other scientist. Thus, if one has total knowlege of all variables, and can control for them, if something worked once it should always work again. This, if something did work and then did not work, logicaly there was something different that caused it. The explanation is always in the difference. As someone noted, you cannot always know all the variables, but logically one starts from a base of what is known then deduce the unknown.
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