The lore stems back to a difficult college math class in what must have been the 1990’s. On the professor’s desk sat a Furby. A Furby was one of those creepy stuffed toys that talked back and had limited AI function. Whenever a student approached his desk with a question, the professor would defer to the Furby.
“Talk to the Furby about this first, if you still can’t figure it out then you can come ask me.”
The vast majority of the time, Furby was able to help! The student’s eyes would light up with a solution and then sit back down without ever having to talk to the professor.
When working on a problem you can’t solve, I suggest your grab a stuffed animal and a timer. See how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time. Start by talking through the problem with your stuffed animal. Once you start talking the problem out, you will often find the solution. Simply by verbalizing the roadblock you’re facing often a solution can be found.
If you are still unable to come up with the solution, set a 20-minute timer then get to work. Start by digging – google, applicable forums, books, etc. If you still don’t have a solution, it’s time to reach out for help from teammates and those who know more than you.
By starting with your stuffed animal guide and then working through the problem with a time limit in mind, it allows you to solve most of your own problems while not wasting your time if it’s just beyond your current ability. It strikes the balance between finding the solutions on your own and utilizing those around you to help.
Try it next time you run into a problem, see how much a silent partner can help you accomplish. I know this has made a difference in my life. I hope the next time you are working on a problem that you can’t solve that it becomes a problem solved instead.