001 Wholebrain Problem Solving Slides


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These slides summarise a training session that I often run alone or as part of a larger event. The training is always highly interactive; we apply all the tools and techniques in this presentation to real problems offered by participants, in the hope of finding real solutions. We usually find some!

Check out my book: How to Solve Almost Any Problem, published by Pearson.

Published in: Technology, Education

001 Wholebrain Problem Solving Slides

  1. 1. Welcome to Whole-brain problem-solving Alan Barker Kairos Training Limited
  2. 2. <ul><li>Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which the problems were created. </li></ul><ul><li>Albert Einstein </li></ul>
  3. 3. Whole-brain problem-solving <ul><li>This presentation summarizes the first part of a training course. </li></ul><ul><li>Further modules in the course are indicated at the end of this presentation. </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is a problem? <ul><li>Answer this question on flipchart paper, in as many ways as possible – without using words </li></ul>
  5. 5. You know you’ve got a problem when: <ul><li>you want to do something, but you don’t know what to do </li></ul>
  6. 6. Problem-solving: two approaches <ul><li>Traditional </li></ul><ul><li>Problem: something is not </li></ul><ul><li> as it should be </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: a ‘fix’ that stays </li></ul><ul><li> fixed </li></ul>Whole-brain Problem: we are stuck Solution: moving; becoming ‘ unstuck’; a course of action
  7. 7. Problem-solving: two approaches <ul><li>Traditional </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the problem? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the cause? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? (five times) </li></ul><ul><li>What’s in the way? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we put it right? </li></ul><ul><li>What can we measure? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we break the problem into manageable parts? </li></ul>Whole-brain What do I want to achieve? What if…? What if the problem were a solution? Why not? What else could we do? What rules can we break? What is the problem like?
  8. 8. Who owns the problem? <ul><li>Problems without owners tend to become unmade decisions. </li></ul><ul><li>Somebody has to be responsible for tackling the problem. </li></ul><ul><li>The problem owner: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>defines the problem at the outset; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>decides how to think about it; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>chooses the course of action to tackle it; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>commits to dealing with it. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Is it your problem? <ul><li>Everybody’s responsibility has boundaries. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s counter-productive to try taking responsibility for problems that we have no authority to manage. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Where is the problem? Circle of Influence
  11. 11. Two stages of thinking reality 1 Perception sensation; intuition Representation: language, models, images 2 Judgement reason evaluation Action
  12. 12. Two stages of thinking <ul><li>We do first-stage thinking to work out </li></ul><ul><li>what we are thinking about . </li></ul><ul><li>We do second-stage thinking to work out </li></ul><ul><li>what to do about it . </li></ul>
  13. 13. Two stages of thinking <ul><li>Perception determines what we know. </li></ul><ul><li>Judgement determines what we know about what we know. </li></ul>
  14. 14. First-stage thinking <ul><li>First-stage thinking uses perception: the five senses, and intuition (our sixth sense, or perception using the unconscious). </li></ul>
  15. 15. Representation <ul><li>The output of first-stage thinking is language. </li></ul>= dog
  16. 16. Second-stage thinking <ul><li>Second-stage thinking uses judgement: reason and evaluation. </li></ul><ul><li>Second-stage thinking manipulates language to reach its conclusions. </li></ul>The dog is healthy. The dog is alert. The dog is looking at its owner. (etc.)
  17. 17. Two stages of thinking <ul><li>We tend to be better at second-stage thinking than first-stage thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>We can even build machines to do it. </li></ul><ul><li>Computers are second-stage thinking devices. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Two stages of thinking <ul><li>We tend to be much less good at first-stage thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>We have very few technologies to help us do it. </li></ul><ul><li>(Can you think of any?) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Two stages of thinking <ul><li>In fact, we may not regard first-stage thinking as thinking at all. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Two stages of thinking <ul><li>But the quality of our second-stage thinking depends on the quality of our first-stage thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>No amount of excellent second-stage thinking will make up for poor first-stage thinking. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Leaping to judgement: the dangers of ignoring first-stage thinking <ul><li>Product development </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering the product rather than seeking to satisfy the customer’s needs </li></ul><ul><li>Contractual negotiations </li></ul><ul><li>Addressing perceived ‘issues’ rather than questioning assumptions about what the issues are </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Re-engineering structures rather than asking ‘What business are we in?’ </li></ul>
  22. 22. To improve your problem-solving skills: <ul><li>Improve your first-stage thinking </li></ul>
  23. 23. First-stage thinking: two questions <ul><li>How is the problem structured ? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the problem </li></ul><ul><li>presented to us </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li> constructed by us? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Structuring a problem <ul><li>Initial conditions [Where am I?] </li></ul><ul><li>Goal conditions [Where do I want to be?] </li></ul><ul><li>Operators [How do I get from where </li></ul><ul><li>I am to where I want to be?] </li></ul><ul><li>Constraints [What limits my action?] </li></ul>
  25. 25. Structuring a problem <ul><li>Assess: </li></ul><ul><li>initial conditions; </li></ul><ul><li>goal conditions; </li></ul><ul><li>operators; </li></ul><ul><li>constraints. </li></ul><ul><li>If all four are clear, </li></ul><ul><li>the problem is well structured. [WSP] </li></ul><ul><li>If any or all are unclear, </li></ul><ul><li>the problem is ill-structured. [ISP] </li></ul>
  26. 26. Two types of problem <ul><li>presented </li></ul>constructed
  27. 27. Presented problems <ul><li>Express as a statement of what is wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Happen to us </li></ul><ul><li>Not our fault but we are responsible for solving them </li></ul><ul><li>Obstacle in our path </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived gap: what is/what should be </li></ul><ul><li>Cause stress </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: fight or flight </li></ul>
  28. 28. Presented problems: examples <ul><li>The photocopier breaking down </li></ul><ul><li>A new product invading our market </li></ul><ul><li>Being stuck in a traffic jam </li></ul><ul><li>Delays in a production process </li></ul>
  29. 29. Constructed problems <ul><li>Express as a phrase beginning ‘how to…’ </li></ul><ul><li>Made by us </li></ul><ul><li>We are responsible for creating them </li></ul><ul><li>The reason for taking the journey </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived gap: what is/what could be </li></ul><ul><li>Cause creative tension </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: dispel tension by releasing energy </li></ul>
  30. 30. Constructed problems: examples <ul><li>Gaining a qualification </li></ul><ul><li>Improving quality </li></ul><ul><li>Innovating a new product or service </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing market share </li></ul>
  31. 31. Four types of problem presented constructed Well structured (WSP) Ill structured (ISP) 4 dream 2 headache 3 plan 1 puzzle
  32. 32. 1 Puzzles (presented; WSP) <ul><li>A deviation from the norm. </li></ul><ul><li>One right answer. </li></ul>
  33. 33. 1 Puzzles (presented; WSP) <ul><li>Archetypal examples are technical: a fault in a machine, an interruption in the power supply, a piece of equipment that won’t work properly. </li></ul><ul><li>The classic problem-solving process – diagnose the cause of the problem, remove the cause, solve the problem – will work only for this type of problem. </li></ul>
  34. 34. 1 Puzzles (presented; WSP): techniques <ul><li>Ishikawa Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Asking ‘Why?’ (five times) </li></ul><ul><li>Tree diagrams (why/why) </li></ul><ul><li>Apollo Root-cause Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Control charts </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>Ishikawa Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Use for Type 1 problems (puzzles). </li></ul>Many forms To complete Forms not Complete Inability to access supplier website Supplier loses the file Supplier has varying processing times depending on circumstances Friendly supplier on leave Executive u nderpromises the delivery date Executive not realistic in estimating time Not in office in training Procedures People Equipment Approving Authority Inability to estimate accurately processing time Missing Data New change in policy Hard to establish strong working relationship with supplier
  36. 36. Apollo Root Cause Analysis <ul><li>Use for Type 1 problems (puzzles). </li></ul>Primary effect Action cause Conditional cause evidence evidence http://www.apollorca.com/
  37. 37. 2 Headaches (presented; ISP) <ul><li>A deviation from the norm. </li></ul><ul><li>No single or obvious right answer. The problem may have no identifiable cause, or have many causes. </li></ul>
  38. 38. 2 Headaches (presented; ISP) <ul><li>Much traditional problem-solving spends a lot of time and effort trying to turn Type 2 problems into Type 1 problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Unfortunately, Type 2 problems often have a habit of reverting to type. </li></ul>
  39. 39. 2 Headaches (presented; ISP): techniques <ul><li>Live with it: suppress the pain </li></ul><ul><li>Use a sticking plaster (hide the problem) </li></ul><ul><li>Transform the problem into another type of problem (move the problem into another quadrant) </li></ul><ul><li>Walk away </li></ul>
  40. 40. Aspirin Use for Type 2 problems (headaches). Use sparingly.
  41. 41. 3 Planning problems (constructed; WSP) <ul><li>A challenge to be achieved. </li></ul><ul><li>One clear goal. </li></ul>
  42. 42. 3 Planning problems (constructed; WSP) <ul><li>Mapped out in terms of objectives, targets, milestones and measures of success . </li></ul><ul><li>Examples include working out objectives after an appraisal, setting a budget, giving the team a sales or quality target, or organizing a project. </li></ul>
  43. 43. 3 Planning problems (constructed; WSP): techniques <ul><li>Action plans </li></ul><ul><li>Gantt charts </li></ul><ul><li>Force Field Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Solution Effect Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Tree diagrams (how/how) </li></ul>
  44. 44. Gantt chart <ul><li>Use for Type 3 problems (plans). </li></ul>
  45. 45. Force Field Analysis Use for Type 3 problems (plans). With thanks to Fred Nickols, whose work on problem solving is inspirational. His discussion of Force Field Analysis is at: http://home.att.net/~nickols/changing.htm
  46. 46. 4 Dreams (constructed; ISP) <ul><li>Objective: to find something new: a product or service, a new process, a new territory, a new set of goals. </li></ul><ul><li>No obvious answer. </li></ul>
  47. 47. 4 Dreams (constructed; ISP) <ul><li>Demands creative or lateral thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>Cannot be tackled operationally. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: creating new products or sources of customer satisfaction. </li></ul>
  48. 48. 4 Dreams (constructed; ISP): techniques <ul><li>Brainstorming </li></ul><ul><li>‘ How to’ </li></ul><ul><li>Metaphorical analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Reversal </li></ul><ul><li>Synectics </li></ul>
  49. 49. Oracle <ul><li>Use for Type 4 problems (dreams). </li></ul>
  50. 50. Using the problem grid <ul><li>Take a problem that you currently face at work. </li></ul><ul><li>Where would you currently place the problem in the grid? (Type 1, 2, 3 or 4)? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Where would you like the problem to be in the grid? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>How could you transform the way you look at the problem to put it in that quadrant? </li></ul><ul><li>What can you do right now ? </li></ul>
  51. 51. To continue the journey: <ul><li>Look at these presentations at </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.slideshare.net/alanbarker </li></ul><ul><li>Operational thinking and innovative thinking </li></ul><ul><li>How to </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking creatively </li></ul>
  52. 52. Kairos Training Limited www.kairostraining.co.uk