Effective problem solvers are T-shaped, being both generalists and specialists. Strategic thinking improves the breadth dimension.

Effective problem solving requires combining creative and critical thinking to make your thinking, analysis and communication sharper. Effective problem solvers have both depth and breadth of knowledge. While formal training focuses on the depth dimension, there is little material available to help us make better at the transferrable skills and knowledge. This website aims at correcting that.

Management consulting first exposed me to issue trees / logic trees and Minto’s pyramid principles. While I liked the tools, I also felt that consultants weren’t using them fully. So I started investigating problem-solving epistemology and developed a course. Because problem solving is so prevalent in our lives, many knowledge areas deal with it: engineers, psychologists, businessmen, physicians, architects, etc. They all approach it from a different perspective; my interest is to break these silos and make the material available to all.

As a result, my course at Rice is highly practical: each student brings a problem. We talk about theoretical concepts that we apply to these problems and we use those as case studies. Students come from all departments, and we leverage this diversity to enrich the group’s problem-solving capabilities.

Through my research and the hundreds of cases that I’ve seen with my students, we’ve adapted the strategy consultancies’ tools: we’ve made them more creative, more logical still, and easier to apply. This website gives a glimpse of what we do, and I hope it is useful to you.

About Arnaud Chevallier

I’m an associate vice provost at Rice University, where I teach strategic thinking in the engineering school.

I trained as a mechanical engineer, first in France, then at Rice. Then I went into strategy consulting with Accenture before returning to academia at the University of Monterrey—to teach engineering and business and serve as their graduate dean. Later I had a stint as a sustainability consultant and an entrepreneur (our start up failed), and since 2011 I’m back at Rice.

If I’m not solving problems, I’m usually training for one tri (or another or another) or playing in Kirby-sur-Seine.