# “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem”

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikiquote: Talk:Albert Einstein

If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.

. I found LOTS of attributions of this quote including many books, but I couldn’t find any that gave a source. Some references cite the ratio as 59:1. The furthest variation I found was here in another quote database.—WBTtheFROG 14:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

. Searching on google books shows it appears in a lot of business books and books on “creativity” but there don’t seem to be any historical or scientific ones among them. Earliest I found was the 1995 book *Creative Problem Solving and Opportunity Finding* by J. Daniel Cougar, where it appears on p. 178. Hypnosifl 21:57, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

19 March 1995, *The Orange County Register* (Santa Ana, CA), “Companies: More firms are looking for new ideas,” Business sec., pg. 5, col. 4:

“When Einstein was asked how he would save the world in one hour, he said he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and five minutes solving it,” Basadur said.

Google Books*Creativity & Innovation in Information Systems Organizations*

By J. Daniel Couger

Danvers: Boyd & Fraser

1996

Pg. 105:

Albert Einstein was even more emphatic about the importance of the definition of the problem. He was once asked: “If you have one hour to save the world, how would you spend that hour?” He replied, “I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and then five minutes solving it.”

Google Groups: alt.usage.english

The problem is, is…*Stephen Toogood *

2/12/02

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It’s a truism that when two philosophers argue for an hour they spend 55 minutes agreeing the definitions and five on the argument. There may be a little of that here.

Google Books*Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked*

By Chris Matthews

New York, NY: Simon & Schuster

2013

Pg. 259:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” —Albert Einstein

Computer Weekly

*Five things I’ve learned about building an innovative technology company*

By Kayleigh Bateman on April 23, 2014 12:19 PM

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“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Albert Einstein