Heuristics for Better Problem Solving

Tips for Effective Problem
Solving in the Real World

Heuristics for Better Problem...
What’s in this for YOU?
After this workshop you should be able to…
" Define problems with greater insight
" Generate a wid...
Tactics
Tactics are rules or methods which help us apply
knowledge to achieve a goal
" Bricks are for building (Contextual...
Overview/Agenda
Intro
Selfware
Verify
Identify
Select
Close

We are here
Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Cata...
Critical Aspects of Problem Solving
!

False starts are expected

!

Be suspicious of “obvious” solutions

!

Errors are O...
Foundation: Abilities are Malleable
Increasing one or more of these factors results
in increased ability…

Kn
ow
le
d

Sel...
Dimensions of Problems
Problems can be span many dimensions: timesensitivity, risk, complexity, criticality, domain
expert...
Exercise: Identify Sample Problems
On a 3 x 5 card identify three candidate
problems that you find interesting

Heuristics...
Sample Solutions (Quick, Dirty & Unfiltered)
My neighbor is too noisy…
"
"
"
"
"

Wear ear plugs
Convince your neighbor to...
What is “Selfware”?
!

Your “Thinking Resources”

!

Your attitudes

!

Your beliefs about intelligence

!

Metacognition ...
Consequences of Belief
!

Meaning of Challenge and Failure

!

Perception of Effort and Persistence

!

Perception of Lear...
Problem Definition: How Extensive?
Basic

• Perceived State
• Desired State
• Difference

• Assumptions
• Data Collected t...
Perceptions of the Current State
First step in verification is gathering data about
the perceived current state:
" Whose p...
Exercise: Perception Quiz - What is This?
What might this be a picture of? Write your
answers on a sheet of paper… you hav...
Basic Problem Definition
Basis for subsequent problem solving:
" Assures common understanding of problem
" Based upon anal...
Pause & Reflect
!

Was the problem “analyzed away”?
" Gain agreement from stakeholder(s), document
results & stop

!

Is f...
Challenges to Effective Problem Verification
" Problem definitions that identify solutions
" Mistaking perceptions for dat...
Creativity is Natural…
…Just watch children at play. Creativity can be
stifled by:
" Schools teaching “traditional” approa...
Factors that Inhibit Creativity
!

Being too perfectionist

!

Falling into ruts or routines (always doing the
same things...
Engagement & Persistence
!

A common cause of failure is premature
termination of the search for solutions

!

People are ...
24 Problem Solving Heuristics
1.

Random Search/Trial & Error

13.

Opposite Thinking

2.

Divide & Conquer

14.

Contradi...
2. Divide & Conquer
Some problems are amenable to layering or
partitioning into component problems. Subproblem selection &...
Example: Data Organization Tool
0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

A
B
D

X

E
G
L
N
O
R
T

Heuristics for Better Problem Solvi...
Lilly Pad Puzzle
Water lilies on a certain
lake double on the
surface area every 24
hours.
From the time the first
water l...
5. Analogy & Metaphor
“Analogies make the strange familiar and the
familiar strange” - William Gordon
Analogy Process
" Re...
Perceptual Reorganization - Puzzle/Demo
Fred has 1 x 1 tile in his back yard. He wants to
replace it with 1 x 2 tiles.
The...
7. Brainstorming
!

Problem solver is encouraged to think up
imaginative, unconventional & even silly possible
solutions

...
9. Simplification
Are there special or boundary cases
that make the problem complex?
Can they be defined away?
Are there s...
11. Micro/Macro Context Shift (Scale Up/Down)
Probing extremes frequently provides insights
into problem boundaries, side ...
12. Detour Solutions
Detour Solutions apply to problems in which the
path to the goal is indirect. Sometimes to
make progr...
14. Contradictions
The perfect solution to a problem may have
contradictory properties. Are there aspects
of the problem o...
16. Look for Patterns
Are there patterns to the symptoms?
" Time
" Space
" Correlated events
" People
" Other events or pr...
18. Review Models
Check models of the problem that you built in
verification for intervention clues:
" Force field analysi...
19. Test Assumptions
In theory, you have not been constrained by
assumptions - in practice, assumptions can
be very compel...
21. Reframe to Reduce Resistance
Is there a way to change attributes or
perception of a problem or solution to
overcome re...
23. Change Perception
Problem solving was initiated because of
perceptions - is there a way to change the
perception?

Heu...
(Bonus!) Combine Strategies
!

!

!

Creative people use combinations
of solution generating heuristics
Learn how/when to ...
Problem Solving: Select Possible Solution
Intro

We are here

Selfware
Verify

Identify
Select
Close

Heuristics for Bette...
When a Solution is “Good Enough”
The best can be the enemy of the good
-- particularly if we are being
perfectionists or h...
Reaching a Decision
!

Establish rules for deciding on a solution

!

Consider all information emerging from evaluation

!...
Challenges to Evaluation & Selection
!

Failure to seek disconfirming evidence

!
!

Hidden bias
Overconfidence

!

Availa...
Summary & Close
Intro
Selfware
Verify
Identify
Select
Close

We are here
Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Cata...
What’s in this for YOU?
After this workshop you should be able to…
" Define problems with greater insight
" Generate a wid...
The Next Steps are Up to YOU
!

You can choose to be a better problem solver

!

There are tactics and tools waiting to be...
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Twelve Heuristics for Solving Tough Problems—Faster and Better

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As infants, we begin our lives as problem solving machines, learning to navigate a strange and complex world in which others communicate in ways we don’t understand. Initially, we hone our problem solving talents; then many of us find our explorations thwarted and eventually stop using and then begin losing our natural problem solving ability. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Psychologists tell us that people can regain lost skills and learn new ones to become better problem solvers. Payson Hall shares techniques and skills that apply to situations in real life. Specifically, learn techniques to better define problems, and explore twelve heuristics for generating solutions that can help when you and your team are staring at a blank paper and struggling to find candidate solutions for further consideration. Learn when random search is appropriate, how binary search can help with diagnostics, strategies for identifying and overcoming opposition—and when transferring the problem to someone else might be the best strategy of all.

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Transcript of "Twelve Heuristics for Solving Tough Problems—Faster and Better"

  1. 1. Heuristics for Better Problem Solving Tips for Effective Problem Solving in the Real World Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 1 Workshop Objectives ! ! ! ! Practice problem definition Explore improved problem solving methods Examine and apply heuristics (tactics) to enhance the problem solving process Have fun while accomplishing other objectives Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 2
  2. 2. What’s in this for YOU? After this workshop you should be able to… " Define problems with greater insight " Generate a wider variety of solutions " Improve problem solving through increased awareness, tactics, & tools Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 3 Slide 4 Exercise #1 Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  3. 3. Tactics Tactics are rules or methods which help us apply knowledge to achieve a goal " Bricks are for building (Contextual Knowledge) " Bricks are heavy (Attribute Knowledge) " Uses for heavy things? (Analogy Tactic) " Generalize search for uses by examining other attributes such as color, size, shape, hardness, and composition (Attribute Knowledge + Analogy Tactic) Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 5 Slide 6 Exercise #2 Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  4. 4. Overview/Agenda Intro Selfware Verify Identify Select Close We are here Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 7 Slide 8 Problem Solving in Action (Demo) Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  5. 5. Critical Aspects of Problem Solving ! False starts are expected ! Be suspicious of “obvious” solutions ! Errors are OK ! Uncertainty is guaranteed ! Expect ambiguity ! Confusion happens ! Sometimes things get silly Safety is important Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 9 Problem Solving Ability Model Tactics X Knowledge X Selfware = Ability Tactics - Procedures for finding and implementing ways to achieve particular near-term goals Knowledge - Facts, truths, and principles gained through experience or study Selfware - Individual beliefs, dispositions and “thinking” resources Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 10
  6. 6. Foundation: Abilities are Malleable Increasing one or more of these factors results in increased ability… Kn ow le d Selfware Selfware Kn ow le d ge ge Tactics X Knowledge X Selfware = Ability Tactics Tactics Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 11 What is a “Problem”? “A difference between things as desired and things as perceived." - D. Gause & G. Weinberg Desired Perceived Current State Difference Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 12
  7. 7. Dimensions of Problems Problems can be span many dimensions: timesensitivity, risk, complexity, criticality, domain expertise… These dimensions determine: " How time & resources are invested in the problem solving process " How much specialized knowledge is needed to effectively solve the problem All problems benefit from conscious evaluation Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 13 Examples of Problems “In the Raw” ! My neighbor is too noisy ! Customers are complaining about quality ! Our budget is insufficient to meet goals ! System response time is unacceptable ! The building is on fire ! We aren’t managing our projects well ! The stock crash wiped out my retirement Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 14
  8. 8. Exercise: Identify Sample Problems On a 3 x 5 card identify three candidate problems that you find interesting Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 15 What Does it Mean to “Solve” a Problem? If a problem is “A difference between things as desired and things as perceived” …then solving a problem requires: 1. Reducing or eliminating the difference 2. Changing what is desired 3. Changing what is perceived or Some combination of these Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 16
  9. 9. Sample Solutions (Quick, Dirty & Unfiltered) My neighbor is too noisy… " " " " " Wear ear plugs Convince your neighbor to be quieter Learn to appreciate the sounds Soundproof your house Make noise so you can’t hear your neighbor " Soundproof your neighbor’s house " Move (or convince your neighbor to move) " Learn to tolerate the noise Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 17 Problem Solving: Selfware Intro Selfware Verify Identify Select Close We are here Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 18
  10. 10. What is “Selfware”? ! Your “Thinking Resources” ! Your attitudes ! Your beliefs about intelligence ! Metacognition - Your personal problem solving manager Selfware impacts your problem solving ability & can be leveraged to increase effectiveness Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 19 Intelligence: “Malleable” or “Fixed”? Belief that intelligence is “Malleable” ...you are born with a potential that can be developed Performance on a task gives you information on that specific task and whether you need to apply more effort or new strategies Belief that intelligence is “Fixed” ...you are born with specific amount & cannot change it Performance on a task is a measure of what you were born with Malleable ? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Fixed Slide 20
  11. 11. Consequences of Belief ! Meaning of Challenge and Failure ! Perception of Effort and Persistence ! Perception of Learning Opportunities Studies show that adopting a belief in the malleability of intelligence can lead to improved performance Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 21 Problem Solving: Verify Problem Definition Intro Selfware Verify Identify Select Close We are here Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 22
  12. 12. Problem Definition: How Extensive? Basic • Perceived State • Desired State • Difference • Assumptions • Data Collected to Date • Multiple Representations • Defined Solution Criteria More Detailed • Problem Model Time Available ! Problem Complexity Problem Severity ! Risk ! Team Size ! Investment ! Sensitivity to Error ! Value of an Audit Trail ! • Root Cause(s) ! ! • Quantified Difference • Problem Boundaries • Solution Constraints Driven By: Common Sense Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 23 Data Question When you get information other than by direct observation, remember the Data Question: “What did you observe that makes you believe that?” Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 24
  13. 13. Perceptions of the Current State First step in verification is gathering data about the perceived current state: " Whose perception of the current state initiated problem solving? " What data is available to substantiate perceptions of the current state? " Where was the current state observed? " When did the observations occur? " What are the suspected causes? " Is there a history of this problem? " Who is affected by the problem? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 25 Slide 26 Problems with Perception Perceptions are a tricky blend of what we… " Observe " Believe we observed " Infer from observations "Seeing is believing” - But what we observe & believe we observe have equal weight in our minds Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  14. 14. Exercise: Perception Quiz - What is This? What might this be a picture of? Write your answers on a sheet of paper… you have one minute. Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 27 Clarifying the Desired State ! What are the “musts” and “wants” of the desired state? ! How will we know when the desired state is reached? ! What evidence would demonstrate that the desired state has been attained? Make target quantifiable/measurable Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 28
  15. 15. Basic Problem Definition Basis for subsequent problem solving: " Assures common understanding of problem " Based upon analysis to date " A statement of the perceived & desired states Perceived State: Customer complaints concerning product increased 25% in fiscal year 2010 for same volume of product shipped (500 complaints received per 100,000 units shipped). Desired State: Customer complaint rates return to pre-2010 rates, using 2009 as the baseline rate of comparison (400 complaints received per 100,000 units shipped). Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 29 Exercise: Basic Problem Definition Select a problem from your three candidates & write up a basic definition: ! What is the perceived state? " Whose perception? ! What is the desired state? " Whose desire? ! What is the difference between them? " Who cares about the difference? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 30
  16. 16. Pause & Reflect ! Was the problem “analyzed away”? " Gain agreement from stakeholder(s), document results & stop ! Is further definition/analysis needed? ! Have we identified multiple problems? " Do they have a common cause or should they be addressed individually? " If possible, isolate a single target problem " Identify problems that will NOT be addressed during this iteration of process Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 31 Slide 32 Verifying the Problem Definition Define Problem Definition Insufficient Verify Definition Problem Lost Interest STOP Confirmed Continue Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  17. 17. Challenges to Effective Problem Verification " Problem definitions that identify solutions " Mistaking perceptions for data " Blaming & judging " Failure to consider all impacted constituencies " Inadequate data analysis " Failure to identify root cause(s) " Mistaking assumptions for truths " Constituencies with vested interests Too Broad Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Too Narrow Slide 33 Problem Solving: Identify Possible Solutions Intro We are here Selfware Verify Identify Select Close Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 34
  18. 18. Creativity is Natural… …Just watch children at play. Creativity can be stifled by: " Schools teaching “traditional” approaches " Peers who pressure us to conform " Organizations that feel threatened by change " People who tell us not to be silly Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 35 Factors that Foster Creativity ! Recognize that everyone has creative abilities and exercising them is not a test ! Spend more time with creative people and with people who value your creativity ! Be curious and explore other knowledge domains looking for unique solutions to interesting problems ! Be playful, laugh ! Be comfortable and engaged Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 36
  19. 19. Factors that Inhibit Creativity ! Being too perfectionist ! Falling into ruts or routines (always doing the same things in the same way) ! Avoiding problem solving activities ! Devaluing your own ideas ! Rushing to judgment ! Fearing mistakes ! Being too serious Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 37 Slide 38 Creativity Considerations ! Creativity is important, but everything you know is NOT wrong -- bring your knowledge and experience too ! Write down assumptions you identify ! Be open to new information (may send you back to Verify step) ! Be open to the creativity of others ! Don’t dismiss ideas prematurely ! Experiment Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  20. 20. Engagement & Persistence ! A common cause of failure is premature termination of the search for solutions ! People are more willing to wrestle with challenges & ambiguity when engaged ! Use all time allocated to solution generation (even after finding a good one) ! Keep focused - expect chaos & hang on Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. - Bill Bradley Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 39 Heuristics for Generating Solutions What follows is a collection of heuristics for generating solutions Be on the lookout for some you already use & new ones to add to your kit (a key skill is acquiring & applying new heuristics) Heuristic - A procedure (sometimes) helpful for arriving at a solution -- from Greek heuriskin, meaning “serving to discover” Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 40
  21. 21. 24 Problem Solving Heuristics 1. Random Search/Trial & Error 13. Opposite Thinking 2. Divide & Conquer 14. Contradictions 3. Means-End Analysis 15. Review the Rules 4. Working Backwards 16. Look for Patterns 5. Analogy & Metaphor 17. Get Help 6. Perceptual Reorganization 18. Review Models 7. Brainstorming 19. Test Assumptions 8. Split/Half Method 20. Change Attributes 9. Simplification 21. Reframe to Reduce Resistance 10. Inventory/Reframe Resources 22. Shift the Problem 11. Micro/Macro Context Shift 23. Change Perception 12. Detour Solutions 24. Change Desires Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 41 1. Random Search/Trial & Error Random search may work if you have few alternatives. Systematic trial and error is better (less likely to re-try solutions that failed previously) ! Applicable when problem is well defined and has few alternatives " Which key on ring opens door? " Anagrams ! These approaches are less effective as the number of possible solutions goes up Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 42
  22. 22. 2. Divide & Conquer Some problems are amenable to layering or partitioning into component problems. Subproblem selection & sequence should consider: " Opportunities for mid-course correction " Opportunities for learning about situation " Investment required and risks anticipated " Effects on other parts of the problem " Efficiency relieving problem symptoms Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 43 Divide & Conquer - Decryption Example D O N A L D + G E R A L D R O B E R T Each letter stands for a unique digit 0 through 9 All you know is that D = 5 Can you decode the other letters? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 44
  23. 23. Example: Data Organization Tool 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B D X E G L N O R T Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 45 Slide 46 3. Means-Ends Analysis ! ! ! Divide the distance between the current state and the desired state into one or more intermediate desired states Identify a solution to reach one or more intermediate states Means-Ends analysis is generally intended to deal with complex problems in which a comprehensive strategy is difficult to envision at the outset Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  24. 24. Lilly Pad Puzzle Water lilies on a certain lake double on the surface area every 24 hours. From the time the first water lily appears until the lake is completely covered takes 60 days. On what day is the lake 1/2 covered? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 47 Slide 48 4. Working Backwards Imagine the desired state and work backward toward the current state Sometimes a combination of working forward and working backward is helpful Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  25. 25. 5. Analogy & Metaphor “Analogies make the strange familiar and the familiar strange” - William Gordon Analogy Process " Recognition " Abstraction " Mapping Analogy Types " Direct - compare to other systems " Symbolic - create alternative maps " Personal - Imagine yourself as a participant in the process Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 49 6. Perceptual Reorganization ! ! ! Restructure the problem to see it in a new way and facilitate seeing new solutions Perceptual reorganization is a way to break mental sets or predispositions to respond in fixed ways Allow yourself to reorganize your perceptions of a problem sometimes makes solutions easier to find Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 50
  26. 26. Perceptual Reorganization - Puzzle/Demo Fred has 1 x 1 tile in his back yard. He wants to replace it with 1 x 2 tiles. The current pattern takes 40 tiles, so he buys 20 of the 1 x 2 tiles. He can’t figure out how to make them fit without cutting one… can you? 21 19 Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 51 Perceptual Reorganization - Puzzle/Demo How can we calculate the area of the parallelogram below? a a=3 b = √5 b b 2 a 4 Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 52
  27. 27. 7. Brainstorming ! Problem solver is encouraged to think up imaginative, unconventional & even silly possible solutions ! Suspend judgments or evaluations ! Capture ideas in writing ! The goal is quantity of ideas “The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas.” Linus Pauling Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 53 8. Split-Half Method (Binary Search) Useful approach when there is a set of sequentially organized possible solutions to consider & no hint about suitability Choose a point midway between current end points and test If not correct, iterate with new end point Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 54
  28. 28. 9. Simplification Are there special or boundary cases that make the problem complex? Can they be defined away? Are there simple solutions to part of the problem? Is the remainder of the problem worth the extra effort Can anything be added to the problem or changed to eliminate the special case? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 55 10. Inventory & Reframe Available Resources What resources are available to you? " People " Equipment " Materials " Facilities " Money " Authority Could they be used in other ways? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 56
  29. 29. 11. Micro/Macro Context Shift (Scale Up/Down) Probing extremes frequently provides insights into problem boundaries, side effects & implications " What if we made it bigger/smaller? " What if we made it faster/slower? " What if traffic increased/decreased? " What if there were only one customer? " What if we increased/decreased quality? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 57 Hobbits & Orcs Puzzle Under an uneasy truce, three hobbits and three orcs are traveling together. They come to a river crossing that has a single 2 person canoe. If at any time the number of orcs on one side of the river is greater than the number of hobbits, the minority hobbits will be eaten. Can you determine how they might all get across the river safely using the canoe? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 58
  30. 30. 12. Detour Solutions Detour Solutions apply to problems in which the path to the goal is indirect. Sometimes to make progress toward an ultimate goal, you must move away from the goal in the short term Example: someone seeking wealth discovers that a likely path is to go into debt to finance necessary education Detour solutions are sometimes counterintuitive Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 59 13. Opposite Thinking Opposite thinking can break perceptual blocks and sometimes uncover systemic remedies to problems " How could we make the problem worse? " How could we add risk and complexity? " How could we speed up the problem? This will sometimes supply interesting ideas that can address the problem or uncover balancing forces Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 60
  31. 31. 14. Contradictions The perfect solution to a problem may have contradictory properties. Are there aspects of the problem or potential solutions that are contradictory? Look for leverage and innovation at contradiction points " Look for trade offs " Look for compromise " Look for innovation (TRIZ) Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 61 Slide 62 15. Review the Rules Are you being constrained by any rules that might be suspended for this problem? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  32. 32. 16. Look for Patterns Are there patterns to the symptoms? " Time " Space " Correlated events " People " Other events or processes? There it goes again failing when the 255th user logs in… Can the problem be safely replicated to look for patterns? How might the patterns suggest solutions? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 63 Slide 64 17. Get Help Can someone else be enlisted to help you generate ideas or solve the problem? " Expert " Peer " Novice " Fool " Imaginary Person " Book or other reference " Other Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  33. 33. 18. Review Models Check models of the problem that you built in verification for intervention clues: " Force field analysis - decrease resistance? " Pareto - more efficient solutions? " Cause/effect diagram - alternative solutions? " Flow chart or process flow - needless complexity? " System diagrams - leveraged intervention? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 65 Force Field Analysis: Example Current State Desired State 25% Skilled employee attrition rate last year (previously 10%) Attrition rate 10% or less for skilled employees Forces That Help (Driving Forces) Flex time instituted Monthly roundtables w/mgmt Forces that Hinder (Restraining Forces) Benefits cut by 50% Elimination of bonuses New performance standards Telecommuting implemented Pay 10% below industry standard Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 66
  34. 34. 19. Test Assumptions In theory, you have not been constrained by assumptions - in practice, assumptions can be very compelling Review assumption list & look for solutions prematurely eliminated or missed by treating assumptions as facts or constraints Imagine the impact of changing assumptions Assumptions ≠ Facts Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 67 20. Change Attributes Are there attributes of the situation that can be changed to observe the effect? " Parts? " Location/geography? " Timing? " Environment? " Individuals involved? " Suppliers? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 68
  35. 35. 21. Reframe to Reduce Resistance Is there a way to change attributes or perception of a problem or solution to overcome resistance? Examples: " Tom Sawyer’s whitewashed fence " Wolf in sheep’s clothing " Trojan Horse " Camouflage " Sweet medicine Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 69 22. Shift the Problem Can the problem be shifted to make it someone else’s problem? Can the problem be shifted to a different place in the system where it is cheaper or easier to detect or correct? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 70
  36. 36. 23. Change Perception Problem solving was initiated because of perceptions - is there a way to change the perception? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 71 Slide 72 24. Change Desire Is the desire subject to change? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  37. 37. (Bonus!) Combine Strategies ! ! ! Creative people use combinations of solution generating heuristics Learn how/when to combine strategies and which ones to use Helpful when one strategy offers a partial solution “Make it a practice to keep on the lookout for novel and interesting ideas that others have used successfully” - Edison Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 73 Review of Identify Step ! ! ! ! ! Use a variety of methods Don’t stop with the first possible solution, generate several Give permission to play & make mistakes Make notes… some ideas have merit on reflection Grow your heuristic set by dabbling in other knowledge areas Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 74
  38. 38. Problem Solving: Select Possible Solution Intro We are here Selfware Verify Identify Select Close Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 75 Rules of Thumb for Good Solutions A good solution is feasible and wholly or partially remedies the problem. Among options, favor solutions that: " Are simple to implement & maintain " Introduce minimum new complexity " Produce minimal negative consequences " Allow a phased implementation " Are least expensive to implement " Can be implemented quickly " Present the lowest risk " Provide opportunities to learn if they fail Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 76
  39. 39. When a Solution is “Good Enough” The best can be the enemy of the good -- particularly if we are being perfectionists or holding out for an ideal solution " Failure to make a timely decision often becomes a passive decision to fail. " Real world decisions are frequently based on satisficing -- and that’s ok All decisions benefit from systematic evaluation Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 77 Slide 78 General Evaluation Questions ! What are the advantages/disadvantages? ! How well are solution criteria addressed? ! How likely is the solution to succeed (workability, complexity, commitment)? ! What are the consequences (pro/con)? ! How long will it take to implement? ! How risky? ! How costly? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  40. 40. Reaching a Decision ! Establish rules for deciding on a solution ! Consider all information emerging from evaluation ! Select the solution and document the decision or recommendation Review your process and results with an outsider They may see biases or assumptions you do not Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 79 An Exercise ! The number series {2, 4, 6} conforms to a simple rule ! You must identify the rule by coming up with your own series of numbers. ! I’ll tell you whether your series complies with the rule ! You can give me as many series as needed ! Tell me when you think you know the rule and I will verify your result Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 80
  41. 41. Challenges to Evaluation & Selection ! Failure to seek disconfirming evidence ! ! Hidden bias Overconfidence ! Availability heuristic ! Representativeness heuristic ! Entrapment or sunk cost ! ! Psychological reactance Mindlessness ! Failure to evaluate consequences Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 81 Slide 82 Review of Select Step ! Rules of thumb for good solutions ! When a solution is “good enough” ! General evaluation questions ! Reaching a decision ! Communicating & confirming the decision ! Challenges to evaluation & selection Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  42. 42. Summary & Close Intro Selfware Verify Identify Select Close We are here Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 83 Workshop Objectives ! ! ! ! Practice problem definition Explore improved problem solving methods Examine and apply heuristics (tactics) to enhance the problem solving process Have fun while accomplishing other objectives Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 84
  43. 43. What’s in this for YOU? After this workshop you should be able to… " Define problems with greater insight " Generate a wider variety of solutions " Better evaluate & select among solutions " Improve problem solving through increased awareness, tactics, & tools Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 85 Slide 86 Exercise: Insights/Progress? Spend a minute reflecting on the problems that you listed on the 3x5 card earlier today: • Did you make progress on a problem? • Did you get any ideas that you might try? • What is one useful idea that you picked up today? Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013
  44. 44. The Next Steps are Up to YOU ! You can choose to be a better problem solver ! There are tactics and tools waiting to be discovered and mastered ! Give yourself permission to: " Analyze the problem before you proceed " Make mistakes " Apply the process " Ask for help " Try something different Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 87 Thank You ! We appreciate your participation in our Workshop ! We hope that you found the results worth the investment of your time ! We ask you to please take a moment and provide feedback regarding your experience ! As you apply these skills in the future, please call with questions or ideas Catalysis Group (916) 929-3629 Heuristics for Better Problem Solving V1.0 © Catalysis Group, Inc. 2013 Slide 88

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