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Problem Solving Basics

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Problem Solving Basics What is a problem? A problem is a discrepancy (a gap ) between an actual state and a desired state Implies that the desired state is one ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Problem Solving Basics


1
Problem Solving Basics
2
What is a problem?
  • A problem is a discrepancy (a gap) between an
    actual state and a desired state
  • Implies that the desired state is one that is not
    currently enjoyed
  • Desired state can be seeking an enjoyable
    experience
  • Desired state can be seeking to avoid pain
  • Some people argue that all human activity is
    problem solving directed towards achieving a
    desired state(s)

3
Desired states, emotions and logic
  • Desired states are based in emotions that may be
    common to all
  • Core values
  • Security (based on desire to survive)
  • Attraction, companionship, procreation
  • ?????? Other ??????
  • Logic is a tool we use to acquire desired states.

4
How do we solve problems?
  • Determine the desired state
  • Decide on what is valued
  • Individual perceptions are different, (which is
    why teams often fall apart)
  • Determine the criteria to use in deciding whether
    or not the desired state has (or has not) been
    achieved.
  • Identify a course of action to take that
    realistically will change the existing state to
    the desired state
  • Often referred to as a solution
  • Should use decision criteria developed in
    determining the desired state, (but often we
    dont)
  • Implement
  • Includes dealing with contingencies, (often
    chaotically)

5
Formal Steps in Problem Solving
  • Define the desired state
  • In terms of decision criteria
  • Analyze the existing situation
  • Develop alternative solutions
  • Evaluate and choose alternative solutions
  • Using decision criteria
  • Develop a plan to implement the chosen solution
  • Implement, monitor, and revise

6
What skills are needed?
  • Blooms Taxonomy
  • Knowledge
  • arrange, define, duplicate, label, list,
    memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall,
    repeat, reproduce state.
  • Comprehension
  • classify, describe, discuss, explain, express,
    identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report,
    restate, review, select, translate,
  • Application
  • apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ,
    illustrate, interpret, operate, practice,
    schedule, sketch, solve, use, write.
  • Analysis
  • analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize,
    compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate,
    discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment,
    question, test.
  • Synthesis
  • arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct,
    create, design, develop, formulate, manage,
    organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write.
  • Evaluation
  • appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare,
    defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core,
    select, support, value, evaluate.
  • More important skills are more difficult

7
Class Exercise
  • Pick out a problem you think you have.
  • Think about how you would go about solving that
    problem.
  • Think about the steps of the formal problem
    solving process and compare your approach to
    these steps
  • Define the desired state
  • Analyze the existing situation
  • Develop alternative solutions
  • Evaluate and choose alternative solutions
  • Develop a plan to implement the chosen solution
  • Implement, monitor, and revise

8
Critical Approach
  • Assume existing system is desired means to
    achieve desired state
  • Focus is on analyzing the existing system to
    determine why it isnt working as intended to
    achieve the desired state
  • Return existing system to work as it was intended
    to achieve desired state (Fix it!)
  • Example Fix the potholes in the road so we can
    get from Point A to Point B

9
Class Exercise Critical Approach
  • Assume that the computer you use to check your
    e-mail is broken.
  • Think about how a technician would go about
    fixing the computer in terms of the steps he
    would take in the problem solving process
  • Define the desired state
  • Analyze the existing situation
  • Develop alternative solutions
  • Evaluate and choose alternative solutions
  • Develop a plan to implement the chosen solution
  • Implement, monitor, and revise
  • Do you see how the problem solving process is
    focused on returning the broken system to its
    previous state?

10
Critical Approach Pros and Cons
  • More efficient because it works with a base of
    knowledge you already have (you understand the
    system)
  • Avoids
  • Much uncertainty
  • Much work in having to think through steps of the
    problem solving process
  • Defining the desired state
  • Analyzing the existing situation
  • Developing an alternative solutions
  • Evaluate and choose alternative solutions
  • Develop a plan to implement the chosen solution
  • Implement, monitor, and revise
  • Need critical thinking or we could never get
    anything done
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Do you want to always be looking for new way to
    get to work?

11
Critical approach diagram
Desired State
What you have to know about
Existing State
X
Focus is on fixing what has changed in the system
in order to return the system to its previous
state
12
Creative Approach
  • Does not assume the existing system is the best
    means to achieve desired state
  • Has you look for alternative means of achieving
    the desired result (end state)
  • Does not focus on analyzing why existing system
    isnt working as intended.
  • The existing system is regarded as simply one
    means of achieving the desired state.
  • Focus is on finding the best way to achieve the
    desired state.
  • Japanese a few years back were great at this,
    rejecting the premise If it aint broke, dont
    fix it! Total Quality Management called for
    business to review existing processes and look
    for new, innovative, ways to achieve desired
    states.
  • Example Find or build a new route that will
    avoid the potholes in the road so we can get from
    Point A to Point B

13
Class Exercise
  • Assume that the computer you use to check your
    e-mail is broken.
  • Think about how you can check your e-mail in a
    way that does not involve fixing your computer.
    What would be involved in completing the steps of
    the problem solving process?
  • Define the desired state
  • Analyze the existing situation
  • Develop alternative solutions
  • Evaluate and choose alternative solutions
  • Develop a plan to implement the chosen solution
  • Implement, monitor, and revise
  • Do you see how the problem process is focused on
    reaching the desired state without having to use
    the existing system?

14
Creative approach Pros and Cons
  • Takes more time because it requires you to expand
    your knowledge of the existing environment
  • More care must be taken to define the desired
    state
  • More time must be spent analyzing the existing
    situation
  • There are more possible alternative solutions
  • Not limited to the existing system
  • Avoids
  • Beating a dead horse in trying to make the
    existing system work
  • Ignoring a better way of achieving the desired
    state
  • Must use when existing system cant be fixed
  • The potholes are too numerous and cant be fixed
    economically

15
Creative approach diagram
What you have to know about
Desired State
Existing State
X
Focus is on finding best way to get to the
desired state.
16
Critical and creative compared
Creative Approach Attempts to find a new way to
reach the Desired State
X
Desired State
Critical Approach Attempts to locate problem
within existing system and fix it
17
Steps of the Problem Solving Process Critical
and Creative Compared (Part 1)
  • Define the desired result
  • Identify measurable goals
  • Identify criteria to be used in evaluating the
    solution
  • Spend much more time in creative process
  • Analyze the existing situation
  • Identify major influences on the system
  • Spend much more time in creative process
  • Develop alternative solutions
  • Use pre-determined criteria
  • Spend much more time in creative process

18
Steps of the Problem Solving Process Critical
and Creative Compared (Part 2)
  • Evaluate and choose alternative solutions
  • Use pre-determined criteria
  • Creative solutions are more complex to evaluate
    taking more time
  • Plan for implementation
  • Implementing creative solutions take more
    planning because these solutions involve a new
    system and tend to be more complex.
  • Implement, monitor, and revise
  • Monitoring creative solutions take more planning
    because these solutions involve a new system and
    tend to be more complex.

19
Quality Problem Solving
  • Depends on spending adequate amount of time at
    each stage of the process.
  • Defining the desired state
  • Analyzing the existing situation
  • Developing alternative solutions
  • Evaluate and choose alternative solutions
  • Develop a plan to implement the chosen solution
  • Implement, monitor, and revise
  • Staying focused on one stage of the process at a
    time avoids duplication and wasted effort.
  • Do not have to repeat process steps
  • Have sufficient information to proceed.

20
Process Controls
  • There are techniques to force staying on task and
    doing steps in sequence
  • Allocate adequate time spent in reflective
    thought (analysis, synthesis, evaluation) in
    earlier stages of problem solving
  • Monitor your focus on one stage of the process at
    a time by controlling communications
  • Example Six Hats.Edward DeBono
  • Helps every participant monitor the type of
    communication by holding up a colored hat to
    indicate the type of communication
  • Only allow particular types of communication at
    particular stages of the problem solving process

21
Six Hats and Types of Communication
  • WHITE.. neutral information 
  • RED.. emotion / opinion 
  • BLACK.. negative assessment 
  • YELLOW. positive assessment 
  • GREEN.. possibilities 
  • BLUE.. process focus

22
Problem Solving Principles of Communication
(Part 1)
  • Red emotions are fine to share at anytime as
    long as they are identified as emotions and not
    disguised as something else
  • Example You say.. This proposal is not
    feasible when in reality you mean.... I feel
    threatened by this proposal
  • Black / Yellow assessments must be based on
    information not emotion
  • Example You say.. This proposal takes too
    much time. What you need to share is facts by
    saying This proposal would require 60 hours of
    labor, twice what we have budgeted.

23
Problem Solving Principles of Communication
(Part 2)
  • Blue process checks should be performed whenever
    needed to
  • Keep type of communication appropriate
  • Focus on one stage of the problem solving process
    at a time
  • Example In the evaluation stage someone
    indicates that they dont like a particular
    solution because of some new decision criteria
    they want to have considered. The process
    should be refocused by saying, We have agreed on
    the decision criteria and I dont see how what
    you suggest was among that criteria. We need to
    move forward.

24
Reflection Point
  • Can you name 5 reasons why having excellent
    problem solving techniques would be important
    for
  • Working as an employee
  • Running a business
  • Owning a business
  • Enjoying your life

25
Problem Solving and Business Planning
Problem Solving Business Planning
Defining the desired state Identify customer desires
Analyzing the existing situation Analyze the competition and factors of production
Developing alternative solutions Determine strategies
Evaluate and choose alternative solutions Evaluate profit potential of various strategies and choose best strategy
Develop a plan to implement the chosen solution Develop business plan
Implement, monitor, and revise Start and grow the business
26
Active Research
  • Active Research is important to keeping
    informed about your industry
  • Identify what you need to know and have it
    constantly in mind and seize on every opportunity
    to acquire information you need
  • Actively search out needed information
  • Problem Solving Approach
  • Define what you must know
  • Identify sources of information
  • Determine alternative approaches to obtaining
    information
  • Choose best method
  • Do the research
  • Monitor results
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