Chapter 1Problems, Opportunities and Decisions Aj. Sounay Phothisane
Problems, problems, problems!• What is a problem? – Problem solving is the art of finding ways to get from where you are to where want to be. The problem, therefore, is the gap between the present situation and a more desirable one. – Vincent Nolan (1989) – A problem can defined as any situation in which a gap is perceived to exist between what is and what should be. - Arthur B. Van Gundy Jr. (1988)
Problems, problems, problems!• What is a problem? – A problem is any situation in which an expected level of performance is not being achieved and in which the cause of the unacceptable performance is unknown. – Charles Kepner and Benjamin Tregoe (1981) – A problem is a situation in which a decision-making individual or group has alternative courses of action available, … the choice made can have a significant effect, and … the decision-maker has some doubt as to which alternative should be selected. – Russell Ackoff (1981)
Do I have a problem? Recognizing a problem• A problem must be perceived or recognized by somebody, otherwise, it is not a problem. – Problems are everywhere, depending on one’s perception to the problem that it is a problem.• We may not realize that we have a problem, but that does not stop us from having one.
Do I have a problem? Recognizing a problem (Cont.)• Managing director to sales manager: “The performance ofyour salespeople in oursouth-east region was prettypoor last month: you hadbetter do something aboutit!”
Do I have a problem? Recognizing a problem (Cont.)• From the sentence above, we can see some points about problems: – We thought that things were fine about sales – After the saying of the manager director, now we have one! • The problem could be: unexpected sales target, Market share, Profits, Performance… etc., – We do not have to know about a problem in order to have one but have to perceived a problem.
Can I solve this problem? Having the power to act• We may have 2 difficulties if we do not know how to resolve the problem. – Difficulty in defining what the problem is – Difficulty in finding a possible solution No matter what, we must be able to do something about a problem situation once we have decided what this should be
Can I solve this problem? Having the power to act• Authority and Resources is essential to implement our solutions.• Our perceptions play a key role in many aspects of problem solving because they determine what we think about the way we solve problem. – Perception: Power to Act (skills and knowledge) • Do we have the power to motivate people to act or solving problem – Culture: • Flat Organization Vs. bureaucratic organization
Who owns a problem? Problem ownership• Who is “dissatisfied” with the problem situation is the owner.• Recognition of the problem• But what of situations where we are asked to help somebody else who has a problem? – Will we have the ownership of the problem too? • Do not solve it for them. If we are called as a consultant, our role is solely to help them resolve their own problem or to facilitate the problem-resolving process.
Are there different types of problem?• This solution to this problem is 90, people might say that it qualifies as a problem
Classifying Problems: Complex Vs Simple• Complex: Problems situation with lots of interacting components – Complex problems should be broken down into manageable portions. Referred to “Restructuring” the problem – Ex: we might break down the problem into bits, then solve all the bits and fail to realize that a problem existed solely in the interaction between these bits. We call it “Boundary problem”
Ex: Boundary Problems• The marketing section of a company complains that the production section is not effective. They feel frustrated because after all their efforts seeking out new customers and obtaining more orders than ever in the past, they are being embarrassed by complaints from these customers about the failure of orders to arrive before agreed delivery dates. The production section, on the other hand, claims that they are already working to maximum capacity, and that impossible demands and deadlines are being imposed on them by unrealistic promises that the marketing section has been making to customers.
Ex: Boundary ProblemsThe fault mat lie within a particular section - Perhaps marketing is making unrealisticpromises - Perhaps production is understaffed inrelation to the recent increase in business.However, the problem may be one of badcommunications between the sections.Thus, if this complex problem were to broken downon a sectional basis it might never be solved
The problem of knowing what a problem is! Redefining the problem• Is the problem “well defined” or “ill defined”? – The triangle problem is extremely well defined. We knew exactly what we are dealing with: a plane triangular structure some of whose dimensions were known exactly – When a problem is ill defined, and even when we think we know what the problem is, we should try to view the problem from many angles to ensure that we are actually attempting to solve the right or most appropriate one. – This process of looking around the stated problem is referred to as redefining the problem.
Breakdown: Redefining the problem• You are traveling alone in your car to a very important meeting. Fifteen minutes from your destination (30 minutes before the meeting), your car engine loses power, cuts out and you glide to a standstill on a busy clearway in the middle of a thunderstorm. – You certainly have a problem. But what is it?
Breakdown: Redefining the problem1. How to get the car started again.2. How to reach my destination as quickly as possible3. How to find my alternative transport4. I wish I had wings5. I wish I could teleport to my destination6. I wish it would stop raining7. I wish I had stayed in bed today
Decisions, decisions!• Problem solving Vs. decision making Problem solving Decision making • Identify and try to understand • Identify the objectives (goals) of the problem the decision • Collect relevant information • Find alternative ways of and reflect on it meeting these objectives • Generate some ideas • Determine evaluation • Develop solutions criteria/techniques • Select the best solution • Select best course of action • Implement it • Implement it