Problem solving


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  • Welcome everyone Do a short review of communication skills
  • Today’s topic is one that has many facets to it. Problem solving can be done in a number of ways. What we are going to cover today is one and possibly three methods for solving problems that can be adapted almost anywhere.
  • To do! Ask each person to write down their definition of a problem on a sheet of paper. Then ask them to fold the paper in half and put it aside for use later on. Then ask each person to think about a very easy problem that they have to resolve every morning. What we are looking for here are things like brushing your teeth, getting to work on time, fixing breakfast, combing your hair, riding a bicycle. Allow a few minutes for the participants to complete the task. Discussion Have people share their steps with the rest of the group. Note the steps on the flipchart
  • To Do Have participants go through the same exercise as with the easy problem. We are looking for complex or difficult problems they have handled preferably at work. It must we a problem that they successfully solved Have them go through the same exercises before but this time have them discuss the steps they followed to resolve the problem with another person. Have them compare notes and see if they can find a pattern. Allow about 15 minutes for this exercise. Then have some of the participants share with the group the problems and how they successfully solved them.
  • Ask them what the similarities were in the way they solved their problem versus the way their team mate solved theirs. What should happen is that a pattern should start to develop. Note this pattern on the flipchart.
  • The problem solving cycle is an accepted practical approach to problem solving. It involves brainstorming, constructing matrices, analyzing, and testing until the best and the right solution is reached. Other such problem-solving cycles exist and either have as many as four more steps which for all intents and purposes only break down the steps identified in the 6 step cycle . Others however leave out some critical steps and move directly to implementing solutions and actually skip the data collecting steps. While this may be ok in situations that need a quick fix, long term solutions require more thought. We sometimes tend to do the ostrich trick once we’ve solved a problem by forgetting to evaluate, adjust and follow-up. We think that once we’ve found a solution our troubles are over. Sometimes a good solution will only last a short while and the problem returns… WHY?
  • Discussion Why do the same problems return? We are looking to bring up the topic of causes and along with it the identification of the problem. Often times when a solution doesn’t work or last it is because we have left out some of the steps in the process. The most important steps are not always “what is the problem?” but “ why do we have the problem?” The why refers to root causes . If we don’t eliminate the root cause we are inviting the problem to resurface again and again and again. Think of it as gardening. In gardening, when you want to remove dandelions you have to remove the root or you’ve only temporarily solved your problem. If you’ve removed the root cause and a problem arises, you know that you have a new problem , not the same old one. Exercise Think of an unsuccessfully solved problem you’ve been involved in and write down what steps you feel were left out by comparing it to your successfully solved problem we talked about earlier. What is the difference? How close is this model to the methods you used to successfully solve a problem?
  • Problems can seem big or small, depending on your viewpoint. I am sure that sometimes some problems seem insurmountable and that only dramatic, costly or sometimes drastic measures seem appropriate. We’ve also been on the other end when a small petty problem, more of a nuisance became our worst nightmare. Anyone who says, little things can’t hurt you, has obviously never spent a night in a dark room with a mosquito. The six step-cycle is meant to give you a tool to resolve any size of problem you may encounter Exercise So what is a problem? Why don’t you read off what you have on the sheet of paper we folded and put aside earlier. Identify the problem The problem should be stated in a “ PROBLEM STATEMENT” ° Ask questions to determine what the actual problem is. Usually the question presented is not the actual question or is stated too generally to be solvable. However, DO NOT GIVE SOLUTIONS DISGUISED AS QUESTIONS ° Restate the problem to assure consensus
  • A Problem is a SITUATION you have, No more , No less. We could get into the grief this problem is causing, but isn’t that how you were able to identify it as a problem. We could talk about the money it’s costing the company, but again, isn’t that how you determined that it was a problem. We often times cannot tell the difference between a problem and its effects. For example if you were to call a friend and say, we have a problem, I can’t go fishing tomorrow. Is that really a problem? Your friends asks why and you say because there’s a problem with your boat. And your friend says , has it sprung a leak? And you answer no, the problem is with the motor. And your friend says oh you have a problem with your motor, it won’t start? Is it a piston? And you say, no, I just don’t have one on my boat And your friend says, you really have a problem if someone stole your motor. And you say, no one stole it. The problem you say is that you lent it to your sister who didn’t return it and you can’t get a hold of her. So what is the real problem here? Not as easy as it sounds is it. A problem is the situation you have. What is the cause? A cause is a reason for a problem So back to our example, what is the cause What is a solution? A solution is what you do to eliminate the root cause which in turn resolves the problem So what is the solution in our example
  • The key in problem definition lies with the group’s ability to clearly differentiate between root problems and symptoms. Multiple sources for problem definition research have found that a well-defined problem is more than 70% solved. We must consider that if this fact is true then groups must concentrate the greatest portion of their effort on this activity. Ask people to give examples of problem statements and discuss them as a group. How do you get to what the real problem is? ASK QUESTIONS…. LOTS OF QUESTIONS the problem can be :A question a condition in need of change a human need or want
  • This question is from a joke and yes it is a trick question. So what is the problem? Answers might include Need drill and bits Problem is that Jim is lazy Problem is that no one is taking ownership of the situation The correct response is “There are no holes in the wall from which to hang the frames. All other statements talk about solution, and symptoms The joke is that most people buy a drill when all they really need is a hole.
  • Problem solving can be approached from many angles. However having a few good tools around to help you along is a must. We will spend some time on reviewing three of these tools and also tell you that there are a number of other tools available out there that can be of assistance. This will give you a sense of what they are and how and where they can assist.
  • Brainstorming is used whenever lots of ideas or new ideas are wanted. Ask How many people have participated in a brainstorming session? How did it work? How did you like it? Did you think it worthwhile? What was the brainstorming session for, or about? Were rules established prior to the brainstorming? Brainstorming rules: only one idea per person per go around no idea is silly or stupid or not worth it think outside the box no judging or discussing during the session pass if no ideas
  • ° List: Develop a list of as many different solutions as possible. BE FREE & CREATIVE, EXAGGERATE ° Rules of Brainstorming: do not judge, say anything even if it seems impossible, keep track, expand and spin off, encourage participation ° Suggestions: try writing down ideas individually before the group process, try round robin, try mapping on board to show relationships between ideas
  • Roger von Oeack’s books A Whack on the Side of The Head …and A Kick in The Seat of the Pants, can be very helpful in stimulating people in a brainstorming session Things you should remember when you participate in a brainstorming session are: if you think you are going to forget an idea write it down make sure that whoever is writing that they put down your exact words as later on those same words will help trigger what you meant have fun with it and don’t get serious There’s a saying that goes, in order to have a good idea, you must first have lots of ideas. That pretty well defines brainstorming Exercise If time permits have a short brainstorming exercise on any subject.
  • Exercise Have everyone complete the “world’s easiest quiz” You will ask people to completely fill out the quiz regardless of what they think about the quiz. What should happen here is that people will be under a number of assumptions: the first will be that the quiz is a joke the second will be that the quiz is a trick the third will be that all of the obvious answers are wrong rarely does anyone complete this quiz correctly Say Assumptions can be dangerous, just like hearsay. When someone says to me “everyone was mad.. I merely ask them to name everyone who was mad. Usually it stops after one or two other people … then I usually include the speaker.
  • Data collection is extremely important. It allows you to properly identify the real problem and often the things that led to it. It helps to confirm if your initial thoughts on the subject were right or wrong. Recently a friend of mine was told by his mechanic that a new part for his car was needed because the mechanic suspected that the part was no longer any good. A new part was going to cost $600.00 plus 4 hours of labour for a total including tax of $920.00. My friend told him not to proceed until he had a chance to review his finances. He called the company that made the vehicle and asked them why that part should be replaced. they said it was rare but that it did occur. So he called other owners of the same vehicle as his and inquired with them. They told him that none of them had ever had to replace the part in the 19 to 20 years that had owned their cars. They stated that when they encountered the same problem as he had they merely flushed out the piece and the lines and everything worked well after that. He then tracked down parts and prices throughout North America found the part for $159.00 US. Suddenly the cost to repair would only be 50% of what he had been quoted. He returned to the mechanic and asked him a number of questions as to why he felt that the piece was no longer good. The mechanic stated age. His reluctance to try to repair the part had to do with add in an additional 4 hours of labour. Now that my friend had the part for less that 50% of the cost he directed the mechanic to try and flush the system and the lines and remove it if necessary if it needed to be cleaned. Two hours later the mechanic called and announced that everything had gone a lot smoother than anticipated and the part was working like a charm and labour would only be charged for two hours. Ask lots of question… get facts… gets figures
  • We all do it, or at least have all done it. You ask someone who knows. In our previous example, my friend went out and found people who had experienced what he had and they told him what they did successfully. He also said that people went out of their way to help. That was no surprise, just think of how we feel when someone asks for our advice in resolving an issue or approaching a situation. It feels good. Benchmarking actually gives someone else the opportunity to feel good. Pick their brains and ask if you can call them back if you have more questions. That will also give you an idea of how helpful they are prepared to be. Exercise Can anyone share examples or personal experiences of Benchmarking
  • Looking outside of your industry reminds me of this consultant who was doing work for a dry cleaning firm. The dry cleaning firm was trying to solve the problem of losing clothing This same consultant was also meeting with a large meat packing firm that same day, He returned to the dry cleaners the next day and spent time reviewing how the process of tagging the clothes was done and discovered that there really wasn’t a lot of difference between how the meat packing firm did its work. Why did the meat packing firm not lose any of it product. All of the product at the other firm was hung on a revolving track. It never got moved out of the spot where it was hung. Could the same be done for dry cleaners. The answer was yes. That is why very few pieces of clothing are lost today versus what it was like a few years ago. Now the track revolves until your clothes come up. They don’t get moved around 30 to 40 times before you pick them up. Respect the other people’s time by getting to the point and being very clear about what you are looking for.
  • When planning holidays, some people plan in reverse. For example they will say we have to be in this city at this time on that last day. They work back from there to give them an idea of what they need to do to get to that city the day before. This also allows them to properly time everything. Try it sometime it works well. Sometimes solving a problem from its outcome rather than from its inception can help get to the source much quicker Exercise Break out into groups of two or three . Give each group one suit of thirteen playing cards. Demonstrate using a full deck how you take the card from the top of the pack and put it on the bottom and then turn the next card face up on the table. Continue to do that until you have exhausted the whole deck. Amazingly enough, the cards come out in sequence and in their proper suits. Ask the participants to do the same with their 13 cards as you did with the 52 remembering what this section is called.
  • Can anyone come up with a situation where this might come in handy. People who work in plumbing often work from the outcome to the source. Ask anyone who has ever tried to fix a leak in the roof if they go from the source to the outcome or vice versa. Anyone who works for a city and who needs to repair a broken main will tell you the same. The source is rarely where they assume it is because water follows the path of least resistance. Working from this direction often allows us to solve something even though we do not really know how it works. How many people can tell what the actual order of the unturned cards is.
  • Evaluate & select solutions ° Plus & Minus: determine the positive and negative consequences of each solution ° Task analysis: what tasks are involved in the solution? Who will carry out the tasks? ° Realistic: determine if the solution is realistic for the individual in that setting ° Intrusiveness: how much change in routine & strategy would be required? ° Feasibility: are the resources (time, materials, energy) available? ° Preferences: which solution is liked more? ° Motivation: is the individual motivated to carry out that solution? ° Commitment: I will .... or This will ....
  • Evaluate & select solutions ° Plus & Minus: determine the positive and negative consequences of each solution ° Task analysis: what tasks are involved in the solution? Who will carry out the tasks? ° Realistic: determine if the solution is realistic for the individual in that setting ° Intrusiveness: how much change in routine & strategy would be required? ° Feasibility: are the resources (time, materials, energy) available? ° Preferences: which solution is liked more? ° Motivation: is the individual motivated to carry out that solution? ° Commitment: I will .... or This will ....
  • Implement ° Plan: develop a plan in behavioural terms. What will be done? Who will do it? When will it be done? How will we know its successful? When will it be reviewed?
  • Evaluate ° Goal: was the goal reached? ° Satisfaction: are people satisfied with the results? ° Extension/modification: does the implementation need to be extended and reviewed later? Does the Implementation need to be modified? Should the implementation be abandoned? ° Congratulate: if it did work, congratulate each other for successful teamwork. ° Investigate: if it did not work, what was the problem? Problem in identifying issues, solution, or implementation? Were there unexpected problems?
  • Problem solving

    1. 1. Problem Solving
    2. 2. Problem Solving
    3. 3. Problem Solving Agenda <ul><li>Review day’s schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Define problem solving </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss problem solving Cycle </li></ul><ul><li>Designing problem statements </li></ul><ul><li>Problem solving from the solution </li></ul>
    4. 4. Problem Solving <ul><li>Warm up exercise </li></ul><ul><ul><li>definition of a problem </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Think of an easy problem that you handled this morning </li></ul><ul><li>Think about how you went about handling the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Write down the steps you used </li></ul>1 1 ?  
    5. 5. Problem Solving <ul><li>3,658.7 X 12 </li></ul><ul><li> X </li></ul><ul><li>Now think of a </li></ul><ul><li>complicated problem. The more complicated </li></ul><ul><li>the better </li></ul>1 y 2
    6. 7. Problem- Solving Cycle Problem Statement Collect Data Identify Causes Identify Solutions Implement Solutions Evaluate Adjust Follow-up
    7. 9. Problem statement What is a problem? What is a cause? What is a solution?
    8. 11. Problem Statement <ul><li>As we saw the real problem often gets lost in the </li></ul><ul><ul><li>symptoms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>effects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>consequences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When the dust settles what is the real problem? </li></ul>? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? !
    9. 12. Problem Solving Problem Statement Exercise <ul><li>Jim can’t put anything up on the wall since it’s made out of brick and there are no holes in it. So the frames we’re trying to promote aren’t up yet. He needs a drill and some masonry bits, Why hasn’t marketing done anything about it yet? </li></ul>.
    10. 13. Problem Solving Tools <ul><li>Brainstorming </li></ul><ul><li>Data Collection </li></ul><ul><li>Benchmarking </li></ul><ul><li>Working backwards </li></ul><ul><li>Generalizing </li></ul><ul><li>Decomposing and recombining </li></ul>Bag of Tricks Tools
    11. 14. Problem Solving Brainstorming <ul><li>Brainstorming is used to get lots of ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>It gets the creative juices flowing and people work off each other’s energy </li></ul><ul><li>It allows everyone to participate </li></ul>
    12. 16. Problem Solving Brainstorming <ul><li>In order for brainstorming to work: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>clearly identify the topic of the session </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ensure everyone participates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>use visual or word association games to help the process along (A Whack On The Side Of The Head, ..R von Oech) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>use games to stimulate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>write your ideas down as they are stated </li></ul></ul>
    13. 17. Problem Solving Data Collection <ul><li>Reality vs assumptions </li></ul><ul><li>What really happened vs what you think happened </li></ul><ul><li>Ensures that pertinent solutions get implemented </li></ul><ul><li>Sets a benchmark for measuring progress </li></ul>So are camel hair brushes made out of camel hair or squirrel hair
    14. 19. Problem Solving Benchmarking <ul><li>Benchmarking is finding out how others have successfully resolved a situation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>saves time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t make the same mistakes they did </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t have to reinvent the wheel </li></ul></ul>Ok Buddy, so just what did YOU! do to solve the problem
    15. 20. Problem Solving Benchmarking <ul><li>Look outside of you industry to get a different perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Plan what you are going to ask and be clear and concise </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it short , don’t overstay your welcome </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to reciprocate or offer something in return </li></ul>
    16. 21. Problem Solving Working backwards <ul><li>Allows you to plan your strategy or your task from its outcome rather than from its current situation </li></ul><ul><li>Allows you to pinpoint, in many situations, just exactly where the situation began and sometimes why it even occurred </li></ul>
    17. 23. Problem Solving Evaluating the ideas
    18. 26. Problem Solving implementation