How Do You Prevent Your Ice Cream from Escaping?
My first process problem, solved at age 5 or 6. Still used. Early school and computer career predictor. Waiters think I‘m eccentric.
I always liked to solve practical problems. Not so much math or engineering problems, but those that interfered with people’s lives. That mentality dovetailed perfectly with my profession as a software developer. The way I practiced it, not the typical geek stereotype.
First, I put myself into the situation of my user and identified the real problem, not the one they presented. Many times, their frustrating problem was just a symptom. Usually, the solution was pretty simple for the underlying problem, though not always easy to build and implement.
I was thinking along those lines during dessert at a restaurant this week when I realized that I was using my solution to a problem that occurred before I was in first grade!
I wasn’t very big at the time, not much taller than the table. The waitress set a short-stemmed ice-cream bowl in front of me, at eye level, containing one ball of vanilla ice cream and a spoon. The dish was larger than the ice-cream ball and had smooth glass sides.
It turned out that the ice cream was extremely hard. When I hit it with the spoon, the ball shot away, over the side, and onto the floor! My parents would not buy a replacement since it was my fault.
I had to make sure that never happened again!
I may have tried other things, but the fork seemed like it would work and was always there. After all, it holds down the steak while you cut it.
It wasn’t as simple as it sounds. With the steak, the fork is doing only one job. I tried using the fork and spoon together, but that was awkward because I had to hold the dish to steady it, along with the fork and spoon.
Finally, after some practice, I was able to hold the dish and use the fork to tear away some ice cream while holding it down. Didn’t need the spoon after that except to scoop up any liquids from the bottom.
Now, at age 73, I always use a fork unless it’s soft serve. The wait staff at the local restaurants have gotten used to me and my strange ways.
I never again had the ice cream jump out of the dish.
Finally, I went on to:
- major in Math in high school and college,
- design and build over a hundred software apps solving business problems across multiple industries,
- prepare and gave presentations at seven national conventions,
- and train numerous software developers and business users.
None of that would have happened if I hadn’t solved that first problem with the ice cream.
Today, at a new restaurant, the waitress had to bring a new silverware setup since she took my fork away before bringing the ice cream.
Software developer, the way I practiced it: