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Effective for group problem solving
 

Effective for group problem solving

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  • This module begins with a brief discussion of problem-solving and the experiences that participants have had to date regarding effective and ineffective approaches to problem-solving, as well as the rationale for understanding and using effective approaches. Following the discussion, you may want to introduce the idea that problem-solving is a skill that can be learned and applied in a variety of group settings. Before beginning the next few slides that outline the problem-solving process, let participants know that the last portion of the module will be spent on using the process with real-life issues supplied by two volunteers. As such, participants should be thinking about whether or not they would like to volunteer to present an issue.
  • The seven steps described on this slide should be quickly introduced. Each is described separately in the next seven slides.
  • Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a problem to be solved. The problem-solving process described over the next nine slides is the result of a review of several problem-solving processes that are being written about in the literature on collaboration, policy development, and problem-solving (see Friend & Cook, 2003; Wheelan, 2005). Most of these processes follow the same basic outline, so a set of “generic” steps is presented here. The first step in problem-solving is to consider the degree to which the individual or group has “ownership” of the problem and whether or not the problem has the potential to be solved (e.g., is it worth the time and effort needed to solve it?). It may be helpful to ask the question: “What might happen if the problem were not addressed?” Individuals and groups need to think about the degree to which they a choice as to whether or not to solve the problem. In addition, groups should consider whether or not they have the authority to implement potential solutions to the problem. If none of these criteria are met, it may be better to select another problem or to re-frame the problem so that it is possible to address a portion of the original issue. You should remind participants that it is often helpful to designate people who will take on the roles of facilitator and recorder in the problem-solving process. Groups who have been engaging in problem-solving for a long time may be able to complete the process without these roles, but newer groups almost always need to use a more structured problem-solving process.
  • Step 2: Identify and clarify the problem. If the problem is worth solving, the next step is to present the “big idea” or “mess” (this might also be known as a “case study” or “issue”) to the larger group so that it can be further discussed and understood. The initial statement of the problem needs to be explored from a variety of perspectives so that groups can gain a common understanding of the issue and develop a sense that they are solving the “right” problem. As part of this step, groups need to ask clarifying questions and collect data from multiple sources. These data may shed light on the causes of the problem, the magnitude of the problem, and solutions that have been tried in the past. Be sure to emphasize the fact that this step comprises one of the most essential steps of problem-solving. If groups don’t spend time identifying the real problem, they often come up with superficial or ineffective solutions to a poorly identified problem. They may also proceed to solution finding before they have developed a common understanding of the problem. Following these initial discussions of the problem, the group should pause to re-stated the problem as clearly as possible, in a way that does not imply a solution.
  • Step 3: Generate potential solutions. Step three involves brainstorming many potential solutions to the problem. You should help the group to understand that effective brainstorming is not just a “free for all” conversation. Instead, it has its own set of ground rules. These include: Generating as many ideas as possible without judging others’ ideas or identifying details of implementation. If groups go too quickly to identifying the details of how a solution can be implemented, they will find themselves able to focus on only one or two solutions. Record everyone’s ideas, either individually (e.g., post-it notes) or publicly (e.g., flip chart paper). The facilitator of the problem-solving process needs to ensure that all participants have the opportunity to offer solutions and have their ideas recorded. The idea here is to be creative, have fun, and come up with as many solutions as possible!
  • Step 4: Evaluate potential solutions. Next, group members should spend time evaluating potential solutions. The following suggestions may help to make this process simple and effective: Generate a list of 5 -7 criteria that group members can use to determine whether or not a potential solution will be effective (e.g., time required, likely outcome, resources required, including human resources and cost). It is most helpful to clarify and quantify the criteria by specifying things such as how much time the group would be willing to spend on a solution, what types of outcomes are desired, the amount of money they might be willing to spend on implementing a solution, etc. For example, a group might generate criteria such as: Our solution needs to be something that we can implement within one week Our solution needs to cost less than $200 Our solution needs to be one that will increase this student’s independence Our solution needs to be implemented using the talents of our current group members Use the criteria to rate individual potential solutions . Groups should utilize the criteria identified above to consider each potential solution identified in step 4. If desired, the group may develop a matrix that lists criteria across the top and potential solutions on the side. As each solution is considered and discussed in terms of each criterion, a check mark or numbering system can be used to see how that solution “stacks up” against the criterion. Avoid getting bogged down in discussing the details at this time . While some details will be discussed in the course of considering potential solutions against the criteria, groups should avoid developing a full implementation plan until they have selected one or more options for solving the problem.
  • Step 5: Select a solution. Based on the evaluation steps listed above, the group should choose the solution(s) that seem most likely to solve the problem. Often, groups will find that the best solutions involve a combination of more than one potential solution. Ideally, solutions should be selected by consensus. At times, however, groups may find that they need to compromise on the selection of a solution, or to take a vote about which solutions will be tried first. If the group finds that multiple solutions make sense, it may need to prioritize the list to decide which ones can be implemented first and make a plan for future implementation of additional solutions.
  • Step 6: Implement the solution. In the final steps of problem-solving, the group develops an action plan outlining how to implement the solution. The plan should include action steps for implementation, responsibilities for specific steps, target completion dates, and an evaluation plan, including timelines. An outline of a sample implementation plan appears on the next slide.
  • Step 7: Evaluate the solution. In the evaluation phase, groups apply the evaluation criteria to determine the degree to which the solution worked. If it works: Celebrate successes! If it doesn’t: Try again! Problem-solving is an ongoing process, and it is often the case the implementation needs to be re-visited and revised on a regular basis.

Effective for group problem solving Effective for group problem solving Presentation Transcript

  • Solving Problems in GroupsSolving Problems in Groups 1©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Objectives Identify the steps needed to engage in effective group problem-solvingSolving Problems in Groups 2©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Essential Questions • What are the steps to effective problem- solving? • How can a group problem-solving process be used to address real-life issues among leaders?Solving Problems in Groups 3©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Overview of the Problem- Solving Process • Identify your experiences with problem- solving processes you have used in group settings. Think about: – Effective approaches to problem-solving – Ineffective approaches to problem-solving – Rationale for understanding and using more effective approaches to problem-solvingSolving Problems in Groups 4©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Seven Steps to Effective Problem Solving • Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a problem to solve. • Step 2: Identify and clarify the problem. • Step 3: Generate potential solutions. • Step 4: Evaluate potential solutions. • Step 5: Select a solution. • Step 6: Implement the solution. • Step 7: Evaluate the outcomes.Solving Problems in Groups 5©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Step 1: Decide whether or not there is a problem to solve • The first step in problem-solving is to consider the degree to which the individual or group has “ownership” of the problem, and whether or not the problem has the potential to be solved (e.g., is it worth the time and effort needed to solve it?). • It may be helpful to ask the question: What might happen if the problem were not addressed by this group?Solving Problems in Groups 6©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Step 2: Identify and clarify the problem • If the problem is worth solving, the next step is for the group to develop an understanding of the “big idea” or “mess” to the larger group. • Before attempting to solve the problem, take time to explore group members’ perspectives on the issue. The group should ask: What is the problem? “How does the problem reveal itself to this group?” • If possible, collect additional data from multiple sources that will help to further clarify the problem. These data may shed light on the causes of the problem, the magnitude of the problem, and solutions that have been tried in the past. • Don’t rush to solution-finding: If groups don’t spend time identifying the real problem, they often come up with superficial or ineffective solutions. • Following initial discussions of the problem, the group should pause to re-state the problem, in a way that does not imply a solution.Solving Problems in Groups 7©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Step 3: Generate potential solutions • This step involves brainstorming many potential solutions to the problem. The following “ground rules” of brainstorming will help to ensure that this step involves all group members. – Generate as many ideas as possible without judging others’ ideas or identifying details of implementation. – Record potential ideas, either individually (e.g., post- it notes) or publicly (e.g., flip chart paper). – Make sure that every group member has the opportunity to provide a solution and that all ideas are recorded and respected. – Be creative, have fun, and come up with as many solutions as possible!Solving Problems in Groups 8©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Step 4: Evaluate potential solutions • The next step is for group members to spend time evaluating potential solutions. The following suggestions may help to make this process simple and effective: – Generate a list of 5 -7 criteria that group members can use to determine whether or not a potential solution will be effective (e.g., time required, likely outcome, resources required, including human resources and cost). – Use the criteria to rate individual potential solutions. – Avoid getting bogged down in discussing the details at this time.Solving Problems in Groups 9©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Step 5: Select a solution • Based on the criteria identified in the previous step, the group should choose the solution that seem most likely to solve the problem. • Often, groups will find that the best solutions involve a combination of more than one potential solution.Solving Problems in Groups 10©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Step 6: Implement the solution(s) • In the final steps of problem-solving, the group develops an action plan outlining how to implement the solution. • The plan should include action steps for implementation, responsibilities for specific steps, target completion dates, and an evaluation plan, including timelines.Solving Problems in Groups 11©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Sample Implementation Plan Action Step Activity to Person(s) Likely Evaluation Timeline for be Responsible Outcomes Criteria Completion completedSolving Problems in Groups 12©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter
  • Step 7: Evaluate the Outcomes of Implementation • In the evaluation phase, groups apply the evaluation criteria specified in the action plan to determine the degree to which the solution worked. • Look back at the criteria developed to select the solution (see Step 4). Some of these criteria may be re-worded as evaluation criteria for the implementation plan. • If it works: Celebrate successes! If it doesn’t: Try again!Solving Problems in Groups 13©2008, University of Vermont and PACERCenter