Friday, January 03, 2014

Rubber Ducky Problem Solving

What if instead of internalizing ideas and thoughts or discussing them with a friend, we periodically explained the problem out loud and talked it through to an inanimate object?

I know it sounds strange, but a friend of mine who is a computer programmer told me about the “Rubber Ducky” debugging idea.  I am about as far from a computer programmer as they come, but I love this concept.

Rubber Ducky debugging is when a software engineer is stuck on a problem with the coding.  To help them work through the issue, they put a rubber ducky on their keyboard and try to describe the problem line-by-line or in great detail.  The idea is to explain to the duck the issue at hand, assuming the duck knows nothing about the problem or coding (which is not too much to assume).

By doing so, the engineer is forced to explain what should be happening (or what he wants to be happening) versus what really is happening.

I tried this a couple of times and I found it to be very fun.  Of course, it’s like talking to yourself, but when you are forced to explain a problem you are struggling with to an object that has no background on the issue or your past emotional baggage, it’s quite illuminating and extremely productive.  You have to like to play games and not be concerned about how silly you look.  It does force you to closely analyze what is really happening.

I love the idea and the image of the rubber ducky sitting on my keyboard listening to me is pretty silly, but it has worked wonders.

Having immersed myself in design thinking for most of 2013, I find myself being quite a bit more creative and a lot less judgmental of all sorts of ways to be a more grounded person.

I’ll be writing more about Creative Confidence in my next post.

Happy New Year!