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Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
Complex solutions for complex problems
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Complex solutions for complex problems

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Simple problems can often be remedied with simple solutions; however, complex problems need to be remedied in a different manner. This paper discusses the traditional problem solving approach and then …

Simple problems can often be remedied with simple solutions; however, complex problems need to be remedied in a different manner. This paper discusses the traditional problem solving approach and then applies holistic thinking to introduce a modified problem solving methodology for remedying complex problems. The paper uses urban traffic congestion as an example of a complex problem and explores the development of a mixture of partial solutions that remedy different contributors to the problem in an interdependent manner.

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  • 1. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Complex solutions for complex problemsThe Third International Symposium on Engineering Systems June 18-20 2012 Delft, The Netherlands Dr Joseph E. Kasser, DSc, CEng, FIET, CM, CMALT Visiting Associate Professor, TDSI National University of Singapore, Block E1, #05-05 1 Engineering Drive 2, Singapore 117576 Email tdskj@nus.edu.sg Handphone +65 9776 7464, Skype: Prof_G3ZCZ Web page http://www.therightrequirement.com 1
  • 2. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Topics • Problems and problem solving • Classification of problems • Problem classification matrix • Solving non-complex problems • Solving complex problems • Systems approach • Questions and discussion 2
  • 3. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Problems and problem solving Converts Undesirable situation To Desirable situation 3
  • 4. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Classification of problems • Level of difficulty of the problem • Research and intervention problems • Structure of the problem • Complexity of the problem • Others 4
  • 5. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Levels of difficulty • Easy - can be solved in a short time with very little thought. • Medium - can be solved after some thought, may take a few more steps to solve than an easy problem and can probably be solved without too much difficulty, perhaps after some practice. • Ugly - will take a while to solve. Solving them involves a lot of thought, many steps and may require the use of several different concepts. • Hard - usually involve dealing with one or more unknowns. Solving them involves a lot of thought and some research and may also require iteration through the problem solving process as learning takes place 5
  • 6. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Research problems • The undesirable situation is the inability to explain observations of phenomena or the need for some particular knowledge. In this situation: – the solution is the knowledge often in the form of the supported hypothesis, – the problem is how to gain the needed knowledge, and – the problem solving process is commonly known as the scientific method, and works forwards • from the current situation towards a future changed situation in which the knowledge has been acquired. 6
  • 7. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Intervention problems • The undesirable situation is when something needs to be changed over a period of time into a feasible conceptual future desired situation (FCFDS). In this situation: – the solution is the FCFDS, – the problem is how to realize a smooth and timely transition from the current situation to the FCFDS, and – the problem solving process first uses the research problem solving process working forwards, selects the best one, and then works backwards to the current problematic situation to document: • the FCFDS, and • the realization plans documented as a forward process starting from the current situation and ending with the deployment of the FCFDS. 7
  • 8. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Structure of the problem • Well-structured – the existing undesired situation and the desired future situation are clearly identified. – may have a single solution or sometimes more than one correct solution. • Ill-structured – either or both the existing undesired situation and the desired future situation are unclear • Wicked – extremely ill-structured problems 8
  • 9. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Complexity of the problem • Number of issues, functions, or variables involved in the problem; • Degree of connectivity among those variables; • Type of functional relationships among those properties; • Stability among the properties of the problem over time 9
  • 10. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Problem classification matrix Wicked Here be dragons Ill-structured (there are no solutions) Well- structured Simple Complicated Non-complex Easy Medium Ugly Hard Level of difficulty 10
  • 11. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Solving non-complex problems • Easy well-structured problems – Simple problems requiring little if any research before creating the solution. • Medium well-structured problems – Less simple requiring some research before creating the solution. • Ugly well-structured problems – Complicated yet require little if any research before creating the solution. • Hard well-structured non-complex problems – Complicated and require research before creating the solution. 11
  • 12. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Solving complex problems-1 • Well-structured complex problems – consist of a set of interconnected well-structured non-complex problems – the remedy to one may affect another, these problems cannot be solved in one pass thorough the problem solving process. – must remedied by evolving a solution using multiple passes of the problem solving process where each iteration produces a better (less undesirable) situation. – one party’s remedy may be another party’s undesirable situation and foster further change. • Makes it more complicated 12
  • 13. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Solving complex problems-2 • Ill-structured complex problems. – These problems cannot be solved. – They need to be converted to well-structured problems before attempting to provide solutions. – Different people convert ill-structured problems into different and sometimes contradictory well-structured problems and which would generate different and sometimes contradictory solutions. • Wicked Problems. – The fundamental paradox with respect to Wicked Problems is that there are no such problems. 13
  • 14. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Systems approach to dealing with problems 8 Descriptive STPs* Observe and think Scientific STP* Research Formulate hypothesis Test Refuted hypothesis Supported 14* Kasser and Mackley, 2008
  • 15. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Remedying complex problems 1. Convert the ill-structured complex problem to a well- structured problem. 2. Convert the well-structured complex problem to a set of well-structured non-complex problems that provide partial solutions to the complex problem. 3. Realize a partial solution to the complex problem by remedying one or more of the non-complex problems. 4. Reexamine the undesirability of the changed situation. 5. Go back to step 1. 15
  • 16. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Summary • Problems and problem solving • Classification of problems • Problem classification matrix • Solving non-complex problems • Solving complex problems • Systems approach • Questions and discussion 16
  • 17. Temasek Defence SystemsInstitute Temasek Defence Systems Institute Questions or comments 17

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