How to Solve Business Problems… Using Programming Tricks

How to solve business problems

Today, I’m talking about the power of talking to inanimate objects, to help you solve problems in your business.

Let me start with a quick definition of a software engineering practice called “rubber duck debugging”. Don’t worry, you can benefit from “rubber ducking” even if you’re not a programmer!

Rubber Ducking and How It Works

How To Solve Business Problems Using Programming Tricks

As a programmer, you’re so focused on your code and when you run into an issue you can’t always figure out what’s causing it because you’re too close to it.

Sound familiar? We do that all the time as business owners too!

But one common way to resolve a problem in your code is to explain what it’s supposed to do, and what it’s currently doing now.

This practice usually helps you spot discrepancies and find solutions, just by talking things out and bringing a new awareness to things.

In fact, programmers explaining their code to non-programmers works just as well as talking about it with another coder.

That’s where the concept of talking to a duck took root.

You can pick your own animal, figurine, or teddy bear, but the most important thing is to practice talking things through until you gain some new insights.

The way you’d explain something to a rubber ducky is totally different, and can dislodge your attachment to how things “need to be” in your code or business.

Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

This simple practice of talking to an inanimate object, business friend, or coach is usually enough to solve big issues and shift the way you do things.

The trick is remembering to take a step back and tap into this different perspective.

Step Back And Get A Different Perspective

When I’m programming, I sometimes find myself “waking up” from trying to solve something for more than an hour only to realize that if I had just taken a step back and talked it out, I could have found another way to solve it faster.

One way to ensure you talk to your duck (or cat) on a regular basis for your overall business direction is to schedule it into your week.

You can meet with a real life coach, mentor, or mastermind buddy. Or just set time aside to journal or explain your worries to your duck.

This practice might sound strange, but I challenge you to use it the next time you’re stuck trying to make a business decision, solve a problem, or get rid of a bug!

How do you solve problems in your business?

Leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve ever spoken to someone and found your own answer after explaining the situation.

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13 Comments

  1. Marrissa on October 15, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Nathalie, your videos are so beautiful and informative.

    Just my opinion, the music is distracting and you’re interesting enough. Don’t need the music!



  2. Tamara Baranova on October 15, 2014 at 10:43 am

    It’s a good tip to remember, especially for small business owners who work alone. I share the office with my business/life partner, so when we get stuck in building a WordPress website, setting up a newsletter template or integrating different online applications – we tend to talk it through with each other and usually the solution presents itself without even the other person’s direct input! Another useful way is to look for solutions in forums and Groups – in many cases someone else could have had a similar problem in the past (not necessarily a technical one) and have already shared their experience and how they got to solve it.



  3. Liz Flint-Somerville on October 15, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Yes! I talk (or write) it out in my personal/emotional life, but hadn’t thought to transfer the habit to business!

    Thank you, Nathalie!



  4. Amy Wright on October 15, 2014 at 10:57 am

    This is ingenious!

    It never fails when I talk to someone else that I solve my own problem or end up saying something like “well, it sounds much different now that I’m saying it out loud”

    Now, to locate a unicorn to put on my desk :)



  5. Steve Szubert on October 15, 2014 at 10:58 am

    This works, Nathalie :)

    My talking cat is a meerkat with a nodding head called Lenny. I have appointed him as my manager, and turn to him to ask for the “go ahead” when things seem difficult. The thing is, Lenny can only nod his head up and down to say “Yes” – which makes everything possible and do-able.

    It’s uncanny how he also often seems to “fix” things by some sort of magic. I guess it’s the power of clarity that comes when we explain things in the way you describe.



  6. Lesley on October 15, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I rarely comment, but this was great advice and I want to thank you for it.

    I am aware that talking things through helps me get insight and often it is difficult to find that person who will do me the favor of sitting and listening while I work it out. I have taken up the practice of recording myself talking about my blog post before I write it, but talking things through to an inanimate object is simple brilliance!

    Thanks for delivering a breakthrough practice. I’ll be using it



  7. Toni on October 15, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Amazing advice!! Very reminiscent of working with archetypes, but with a modern day flavor. I have an “altar” in my workshop where I set my intentions for the day, so I’m definitely going to bring in a statue or symbol to talk to to bring this into my practice, as well. Thanks for the reminder, Nathalie!



  8. Kristan Braziel on October 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Nathalie!! Ohmygosh! I’m so happy to know that this is a real “technique” to working things through. It seems that I always mull over things in my head (over and over and over), and as soon as I talk it out with someone, I end up saying (almost in the same breath as my concern or issue), “Oh, never mind, I think I just figured it out.”

    Hahaha! I’m going to get me a rubber ducky so I won’t have to trouble my friends/family/network with my crazy [undiagnosed-but-it’s-so-obvious-attention-deficit-disorder], cluttered brain!

    Thanks for the tip, Nathalie!



  9. Sasha Stone on October 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I love this Nathalie! I get so much from talking things out with people. When I have a huge workload I tend to put off phone calls and meetings, yet every time I make time to connect, I get so much insight that it ends up being the most valuable use of my time. I am definitely going to experiment with this rubber duck technique the next time problems/issues/dilemmas arise. Thanks for the guidance! And you look great!



  10. julie on October 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    OH! I totally going to take this practice up, and talk to my daughter’s stuffed pink rabbit (who is about on his 9th life and is an absolute guru to be sure).



  11. Stevie on October 17, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Nathalie I have been using this method for years, I use my family, mainly my mum, I just ask them to listen carefully to what I explain, when using my mum I have to explain things really clearly for her to be able to understand, she often hasn’t a clue but this isn’t important it is making the process clear enough to someone else that makes you see where the problem lies.

    Good one today, I am pleased to think I have used this process for so long, kind of gave me a boost,

    Thanks.



    • Sasha Stone on October 20, 2014 at 12:47 am

      I love this idea Stevie! I’m going to explain my programs/ideas to my mom too and see if she follows. She’s also great at asking questions when she doesn’t understand something. Thanks for the inspiration.



  12. Ed Wilson on October 11, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Completely works to talk to my iPhone as well. I’ve noticed for me, when I am recording what I’m saying, it gives an added level of seriousness, and I’m more likely to give it full attention.