LINKS AND FURTHER READING:

  • Wikipedia explains rubber duck debugging.
  • A coder explains it in greater detail.
  • The planet’s largest selection of rubber ducks seems to be here.
  • Watch Ernie take a bath, sing a song.
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    49 Responses to “Pinkcast 1.3: How a Simple Bath Toy Can Solve Your Toughest Problems”

    1. kim cornelissen says:

      This one is your best yet, it’s nice to see you get outside the box a bit (that was why I read on of your books in the first place many years ago)… And a special bonus, a rubber duck won’t steal your ideas…

    2. JScott says:

      Simply brilliant! Thank god you went sans scuba gear!

    3. pac says:

      Quick, cute, easy, take away tool for immediate use!

    4. See..this is perfect! No longer will I get caught talking to myself in the car! (…Usually I pretend like I’m singing. Sometimes I even add air drums and microphone gestures just to be convincing.)

    5. Arlene Hougland says:

      This was very clever.. Cute and to the point. I think I am going to buy myself a rubber duck. Thanks

    6. What is actually happening is that your thoughts are becoming visible. And with it comes clarity of thought.

    7. Jim Cull says:

      So glad your Pinkcasts are filled with useful information and not just some “quackery!”

    8. Geoff says:

      I’m curious if this can be tested. Rubber Duck v. Friend.

      The concept of a “Master Mind Group” is not new. From Napoleon Hill’s classic Thank and Grow Rich all the way back to the Bible “When two or more are gathered…” the notion of a connected being, the result of more than one person together, has been seen to solve problems for people. Many successful entrepreneurs, actors, and others use the Mastermind Technique with great results.

      But is it necessary?

      I’d be curious to see if there could be a control group talking to the Rubber Duck and an experimental group talking to a friend (in person), to see whether there would be a statistically significant difference between the two.

      My starting hypothesis (based on the fact that rubber duck debugging is already a thing) is that the rubber duck effectively takes the place of another person and there would be no significant difference in % of time a solution is found. Although maybe Time To Solution might be faster/slower with one way or the other.

      At any rate, this is a nice hack and I will try it out to see how it works for me. Thanks again, DHP!

    9. Marty Jordan says:

      Thanks for bringing good ideas and good vibes with these podcasts. They are all great but my favorite so far has been the MIT…that has been a huge boon to my productivity.

    10. Smart! I guess it’s coaching lite!
      We often know the answer but just can’t get the wires in our brains to connect but talking seems to pull them together more easily.
      Fortunately for us coaches the duck can’t come up with smart questions based on intuition and observing body language but don’t knock rubber ducks they seem to be performing a helpful role.
      Thanks Dan.

    11. Walter Akana says:

      Awesome tip, Dan! Off to amazon to get one!!

    12. Ivan Gribanov says:

      super, now I know that one of my split personalities is just a rubber duck – I just wish it wouldn’t talk back either!

    13. Good idea! I also just talk to myself but the duck seems to actually be attentive so he might work better!

    14. Kendall says:

      Never knew what to call this, but it always works. Getting me a duckie for my desk. (And I had the 45 of that song with Ernie singing as a kid!)

    15. Susan Colket says:

      Dan, who knew these ducks were so versatile? I like the new view with windows behind you. There’s less contrast so you and your words are the focus. Thank you.

    16. Ed Lawrence says:

      Having worked remotely for 10+ years, I always missed someone to explain a problem to 1:1. Problem solved! Thanks Dan

    17. Heidi Kennedy says:

      Nail it! Thanks Dan.

    18. The trick is really expedient! People quite often do hard telling about WHY they did something. When they explain it to someone – e.g. a rubber duck – they start asking themselves WHY. So they do not have to explain, but find the best answers. Thanks for bringing this to attention – I will bring the rubber duck to the development team the next time!

    19. Bev Lyseng says:

      Thank again! You really do crack me up!
      πŸ™‚

    20. I have two cats (live) that work too. They’re not as patient as a rubber duck, but the concept of ‘splaining, is the real golden takeaway!

    21. Lecia Grossman says:

      Thanks for this! I love the humor in this! What we need in the workplace is more fun with great tips – thanks! Lecia

    22. Michael says:

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
      ..seriously? I love the sense of humor and dorkieness of your pinkcast. Keep “casting”, please.
      Sunny greetings from germany,

      Michael.

    23. James says:

      That’s awesome and hilarious! I’ve never heard of it before but now I’ve got to try it. Thanks Dan!

    24. Jane Kerrigan says:

      Very good … I do this too … Sometimes and the rubber duck would make it stick. Great idea.

    25. Bonnie Koeplin says:

      As usual a winner!! Thank you, Dan.

      Every time I see a rubber duck now, I’ll think of your Pinkcast!
      I’ll get one for my friend’s car so when they give me a ride to the airport and get stuck in traffic, they can talk to the duck.

    26. Colly Graham says:

      Hey, what a great idea! I’m off to buy a rubber duck except it looked more like a plastic duck to me.

    27. Rasul says:

      Excellent tip, Dan.

      Where can I get access to Season 2 of your Nat Geo show “Crowd Control.” Don’t see it on the channel website and there is no update on your personal site danpink.com. Thanks!

    28. Helen Bloomfield says:

      Love this one, and the sign off music is a winner too…keeps the core idea stuck in your mind:-) Thanks Dan

    29. Tim Causer says:

      Great tip – glad you aren’t sending us the “bill” for this!

    30. Another awesome Pinkcast, Dan! By the way I appreciate that you referred to your coder as a woman; many would default to the male reference there. Thanks for the gender equality πŸ™‚

    31. Becky Casey says:

      Ha! Every time I do this, it works! A rubber duck will make it more fun – how could Ernie be wrong? Nice touch of humour too, Dan. Thanks again.

    32. Grant Lauritsen says:

      Thanks Dan. Great idea. Another tweak on it: talk to your computer and record it, then play it back.

    33. Wayne Gladwin says:

      I have a similar exercise I do when self learning. I used to be a software developer and later did a stint as a trainer. I found that after teaching I greatly improved my understanding of subjects that I previously thought I understood just fine.

      Subsequently I developed a habit of, while learning something new, imagining myself explaining the principals and concepts to a class. I find the process of breaking a subject down and presenting it clearly and logically, as if trying to help someone else understand it, actually helps me to understand it myself. And once I really understand something I tend to remember it.

      I never tried doing this out loud though. Maybe I should get a rubber duck. At least it can’t be worse than when people catch me staring into space, unconsciously making facial expressions and gestures as I conduct my fantasy class!

      • Alain says:

        Wayne, you are right. The best way to learn something is to aim to teach it to someone else. And that is very effective and powerful.

    34. Paul says:

      Funny and useful as always, thanks Dan. I might try a slightly different approach. My little Pomeranian dog has over 200 toys, yes that is with 2 zeros, so I have a crowd of duck substitutes to work with so if talking to any one of them does not work I can move onto the next until I get my answers!

    35. This is so true. I often rubber duck with coworkers who just listen, but as soon as I explain the problem, the solution comes to mind.

    36. Thom Gibson says:

      I’ve seen this work in my middle school math classroom. Students get an unreasonable answer and ask me what they did wrong. I tell them to walk me through what they did. They often find their mistake without me having to say anything.

    37. Cecilia says:

      Excellent!

    38. Dave Zovak says:

      “Save your friends for important things like borrowing money and rides to the airport.” – Nice bonus tips!

    39. Patty says:

      Brilliant! I’m going to buy several and pass them out at my next department heads meeting. Dan, have you warned the makers of these little guys that they might need to up production?

    40. Claudia says:

      I will use this video to sustain the effectiveness of self-coaching! hilarious, yet so true!

    41. Kathleen says:

      Too funny! I like the quick learning opportunity.

    42. Garry says:

      hilarious πŸ™‚ Love it Mr Pink These pinkcasts are not only really useful, but fun to view. Keep up the good work. Thanks Garry

    43. Christy says:

      Thank you. Short, funny, and most important useful. I like the pinkcasts a lot.

    44. Great tip! As a technology coordinator for a international school, I often allow people to “walk me through” their steps to find solutions. It’s amazing when then share step by step what they are doing or trying to figure out and then have that “aha” realization of what they need to do to figure out the problem. I guess I am the duck.

    45. Bhola Prasad says:

      This is so interesting idea. Going to try it out πŸ™‚

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