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Stop Guessing: The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem-Solvers

Stop Guessing: The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers

Stop Guessing: The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers

Berrett-Koehler, Independent Publisher of the Year

Bad problem‐solving is everywhere and costs individuals and society incalculable amounts of time and money. Problems persist because people have only been trained to solve easy problems, usually by guessing. This guessing approach is rarely successful when applied to hard problems. When problem‐solving efforts fail, people often find expensive or painful ways to live with or work around the problems they face, sometimes growing so accustomed to problems that they no longer even notice them.

Great problem-solvers are armed with a set of behaviors, not just a methodical approach, that allows them to avoid guessing. They consistently solve hard problems to root cause in a way that can seem magical to most people.

Author Nat Greene has spent over 20 years solving hard problems, and developing and leading great problem-solvers. In this time he has found that great problem‐solvers consistently exhibit certain behaviors when solving hard problems. In Stop Guessing, you will learn what the behaviors are, why they’re so important to success, and how to begin adopting them. Developing your strength in these behaviors will help you to:

  • Have confidence to solve the hard problems you face
  • Easily build alignment to implement the right solution
  • Identify more important and valuable opportunities that are being ignored
  • Help others to be better problem‐solvers
  • Stop wasting time and money, and trying your patience

Each of the 9 behaviors comes with stories of great problem‐solving in action, including a best‐in-class chemical processor that had hundreds of millions of dollars of upside hidden behind a hard problem, a losing baseball team without the budget for star players, and the scourge of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. 


Praise for Stop Guessing


Prof. Sanjay Sarma, MIT Mechanical Engineering

"This is a charming little book that crisply captures the discipline necessary for efficient problem solving. Reading it reminded me of bad habits I had developed myself. I recommend it to every engineer (and married person or parent!)."

Gregg Tanner, CEO, Dean Foods

"It was an easy read with not only tools and help on solving hard problems, but the psychology and behaviors that sometimes stand in our way. It reinforced my confidence that problems which seemed impossible to solve are actually solvable.

I also know it works within the multiple companies that I have had the privilege to lead."


Prof. Malcolm McCulloch, Sustainable Energy and Transport, Oxford University

“Stop Guessing presents a way of tackling hard problems. It is not a recipe book--rather it identifies a set of behaviors that are essential to be successful at cracking those problems that do not readily submit to guessing a viable solution. No, you will not work miracles--but some might think that you do! This book is now on my reading list for all my students, as it will enable them to be more effective in their future careers.”

Greg Smith, EVP Supply Chain US, WalMart Stores Inc.

"Having known Nat for 15 years, I know he possesses a deep passion for solving problems--especially those more difficult and previously unsolved. In Stop Guessing he addresses the worthy cause and power of leveraging our human capital and capability to convert from firefighting to proactive and permanent solutions by leveraging people's potential as problem solvers. He effectively addresses the inhibitors and realities needed to address mindsets to own and embrace the solution. He embraces the art of the possible."



"Nat Greene offers a different way to understand your really hard problems and find simple, actionable solutions that work. I gleaned many insights from Stop Guessing and heartily recommend it!"


"Vigorous, optimistic, and approachable. Nat shows us a robust approach that can empower people to take a confident, active role in solving problems. Readers who master this approach will save time and money, and improve their self-esteem."

Nat Greene

Nat Greene

About Nat

Entrepreneur, Abundant Thinker, politics junkie, and problem-solver with a burning obsession to routinely do the impossible and unleash the potential of people and systems everywhere.

Nat is a business leader, author, and champion of great problem-solving. He helps smart people make radically better decisions.

Nat believes that much more is possible than we currently think, and focuses his efforts on productively challenging the conventional limits of the status quo. He takes an approach that is hands-on, data-driven, and follows a rigorous process to break constraints. 

More About Nat >
Nat's Blog >
Nat at Stroud >
LinkedIn >


Nat in the Press

INTERVIEWS and Reviews


  • Fortune: “4 Things to Focus On After Making a Mistake at Work”

  • Fortune: “Stop Blaming Your Boss for All Your Problems”

  • Thin Difference: “Stop Optimizing and Solve Problems”

  • Businessing: "6 Ways to Set Your Small Business Apart with Problem Solving"

  • Consulting Magazine: "Some Sound Advice: Stop Guessing Already"

  • Random Acts of Leadership: Stop Giving Everyone Advice”

  • Jesse Lyn Stoner on Leadership: “Why You’re So Lousy at Problem Solving”

  • New Theory: “To Solve a Hard Problem, Change These Two Mindsets” (with Mark Rosenbaum)

  • Business2Community: "How to Engage Your Worksforce - Without Perks, Tips, or Pep Talks"

  • New Theory: “3 Tips for Unleashing Your Business’s Secret Weapon: Great Problem Solvers” (with Thorsten Hofmann)

  • Innovation Excellence: “The 9 Key Behaviors of Top Problem Solvers”

  • YoungUpStarts: “7 Surprising Truths About Guessing Your Way Out of a Problem”

  • "Big-Project Engineers Have to Deal with Too Much Red Tape"

  • Leadership Freak: “Misguided Questions Kill Businesses”

  • Bizcatalyst 360: “Learn the Root Cause of Your Setback to Bounce Back With Fury”

  • Byron’s Babbles: “Decision Making vs Problem Solving -- and Why the Difference Matters”

  • Green Thumb Leadership: “Does Going Green Need to Cost You Green?”

  • Leading with Trust: “Improving Your Value to Your Customers”

  • What Yvonne Reads: “The 9 Ways Problem Solvers Distinguish Themselves”

  • Money Inc: “To Cut Costs on the Road to Sustainability, Try Problem Solving”

  • New Theory: “Where Simple Solutions Go to Die… and How to Help Them Live” (Scott Whitbread)

  • CEO World: “The 9 Critical Problem Solving Behaviors Your Team Must Know”

  • Lead Change Group: “How to Manage Subject Matter Experts”

  • Business2Community: “5 Great Reasons for Getting the “Guess” out of Guesswork”

  • Switch and Shift: “Engaging Millennials: Unleashing a Generation in the Workforce”