Critical Thinking 3


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How you can become more effective in dealing with the many types of problems you face daily.

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Critical Thinking 3

  1. 1. Problem-Solving and Decision- Making How you can become more effective in dealing with the many types of problems you face daily.
  2. 2. Two Sides of the Same Coin <ul><li>Solving Problems and Making Decisions are Often Treated as Different Processes </li></ul><ul><li>To solve problems you have to make decisions: deciding among many alternatives. </li></ul><ul><li>You need to: define the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Identify important facts </li></ul><ul><li>Generate alternative ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate your alternative ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Select a solution or course of action </li></ul><ul><li>Implement and monitor your solution or course of action </li></ul>
  3. 3. The First Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Identify and Avoid Common Pitfalls </li></ul><ul><li>Common pitfalls include: </li></ul><ul><li>Ignoring problems </li></ul><ul><li>Denial that a problem exists is common </li></ul><ul><li>Expecting problems to go away is “magical thinking” </li></ul><ul><li>The two most common styles to avoid problems or decisions: </li></ul><ul><li>Complacency: continuing to do as usual while ignoring the signs </li></ul><ul><li>Defensive Avoidance: seeing a problem but feeling you have little hope of a solution </li></ul><ul><li>Seen in three forms: Rationalizing the problem </li></ul><ul><li> Procrastinating </li></ul><ul><li> Passing the buck </li></ul>
  4. 4. More Common Pitfalls <ul><li>Becoming Overly Optimistic </li></ul><ul><li>Optimism has a positive and negative side </li></ul><ul><li>Optimists are more willing to challenge a problem, to persist and to ask for help </li></ul><ul><li>Too much optimism can lead to keep going after issues that have no good solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Using Past Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Old solutions don’t necessarily fit new problems </li></ul><ul><li>We’ll apply more of the same solution </li></ul><ul><li>Take actions that are the opposite of those found in the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking Perfect Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect solutions are extremely rare </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking the perfect solution can lead us to solutions that sound good but are ineffective </li></ul><ul><li>Making Quick Decisions to Solve Problems </li></ul><ul><li>Can become trapped in “decision freezing” </li></ul><ul><li>Characterized by premature commit- ment to a course of action and bypassing important steps in solving the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Often, “wishful thinking” is relied upon (“Everything will be alright”) </li></ul>
  5. 5. More Common Pitfalls <ul><li>Selecting the First Alternative Considered </li></ul><ul><li>Must develop the habit of generating alternatives, then evaluating them </li></ul><ul><li>Go for at least 3 alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Helps to overcome the reliance on shortcuts, past habits, and other simplistic solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Misuse of Representative-ness and Rules-of-Thumb </li></ul><ul><li>We try to reduce the time and effort to make worthwhile decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Does the event conform to your pre- conceived idea of it? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the most vivid, easily recalled, or most available solution? </li></ul><ul><li>Letting Others Make Your Decisions </li></ul><ul><li>If someone else makes your decisions, you’re the one who has to live with it. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep control over your life </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of Confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Need to have confidence in your ability to make a good decision </li></ul><ul><li>Look for alternative solutions and use the lessons learned from the past </li></ul><ul><li>Steps to increase confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Periodically visualize yourself successfully solving problems and making important decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Get the knowledge and information you lack, and surround yourself with others who can help </li></ul><ul><li>Whenever possible, break your problem into manageable units </li></ul>
  6. 6. A Final Pitfall <ul><li>Believing You Lack Intelligence or Creativity </li></ul><ul><li>“ Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” – Thomas Edison </li></ul><ul><li>Even though there’s a correlation between IQ and overall scores on problem-solving averages, other factors are also involved </li></ul><ul><li>Chance may play a role as well as other elements that interact when solving problems </li></ul><ul><li>Many of us develop other nonintellectual factors </li></ul><ul><li>When people have sufficient freedom from other responsibilities, they have a better chance of developing creatively </li></ul><ul><li>People need an environment where their efforts will be encouraged and supported </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Second Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Accept the Challenge a Problem Presents </li></ul><ul><li>The Problem Must Not Be Perceived of as an Obstacle , Crisis, or Burden </li></ul><ul><li>See the problem as a challenge rather than a threat </li></ul><ul><li>Two positive things occur when a problem is seen as a challenge: </li></ul><ul><li>You become more open to alternative ideas for solving it </li></ul><ul><li>You will persist toward finding solutions </li></ul><ul><li>If you see a problem as difficult or hard, you will most likely stop working on it </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Third Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Carefully Define the Problem </li></ul><ul><li>How a problem is initially stated guides and directs the way you’ll approach and attempt to solve it </li></ul><ul><li>How to adequately define a problem </li></ul><ul><li>Isolate and Locate the Source of the Problem </li></ul><ul><li>It might be other people in your life </li></ul><ul><li>It might be some object in your environment </li></ul><ul><li>It might be a relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid Vague Problem Definitions or Those that Contain a Solution </li></ul><ul><li>Be careful of generalizations or specific solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Reframe or Restructure a Problem Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Changing the way a problem is conceptualized refocuses your energy and motivates you find a solution </li></ul><ul><li>State the problem in a positive and optimistic manner </li></ul><ul><li>A problem can become a challenge and opportunity for change </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Fourth Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Identify the Important Facts </li></ul><ul><li>Sorting through relevant information is important to solving problems and making decisions </li></ul><ul><li>It depends on how we perceive the world and our ability to isolate stimuli and ideas from the background in which they appear </li></ul><ul><li>How you perceive your environment and process information is your Cognitive Style </li></ul><ul><li>It is related to your ability to solve problems and make decisions </li></ul>
  10. 10. More on Identifying Important Facts <ul><li>Identify Who Owns the Problem </li></ul><ul><li>Who is responsible for resolving the issue? </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid taking the responsibility for solving someone else’s problem </li></ul><ul><li>Develop and Employ Appropriate Representations of Elements in a Problem </li></ul><ul><li>Identifying the important facts and critical elements may not be easy </li></ul><ul><li>You need to find a way to select the elements, summarize and combine them, and organize them so you can work on them </li></ul><ul><li>Convert them to auditory or visual images or representations </li></ul><ul><li>Internal representations provide a model that guides your approach toward solving the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Also necessary to create external representations of the issues as well </li></ul><ul><li>Use charts, figure drawings, diagrams, maps, etc. to help visualize and verbalize the components of a problem </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Fifth Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Generate a Range of Alternative Solutions or Courses of Action </li></ul><ul><li>Many fail to do this because they opt for the first or the most simplistic solution </li></ul><ul><li>Functional Fixedness = assuming familiar objects cannot be used in nontraditional ways </li></ul><ul><li>Generating alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Form an Idea Tree </li></ul><ul><li>Use metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm ideas </li></ul><ul><li>List attributes </li></ul><ul><li>Use a checklist </li></ul><ul><li>Work backward </li></ul>
  12. 12. More on Generating Alternatives <ul><li>Forming an Idea Tree </li></ul><ul><li>Many problems have a number of possible answers as well as the actual solution </li></ul><ul><li>Begin with the problem and put possible solutions in a “tree” diagram </li></ul><ul><li>Use Metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>A metaphor is an analogy </li></ul><ul><li>Three ways to create metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Fantasy analogy: Imagine an ideal but farfetched solution to the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Direct analogy: Imagine a solution based on something that already solves the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Personal analogy: Imagine yourself as an element in the problem </li></ul>
  13. 13. More on Generating Alternatives <ul><li>Brainstorming Ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Rules for brainstorming </li></ul><ul><li>* List as many ideas as you can within a specified time period </li></ul><ul><li>* Don’t be overly concerned about how practical the ideas are </li></ul><ul><li>* Hold any evaluations or criticisms of the ideas until after they are listed </li></ul><ul><li>* After listing them, try to combine and improve the ideas so they will be more useful </li></ul><ul><li>* After combining and improving the ideas, eliminate the ideas you feel are not useful, can’t be improved, or are not desirable </li></ul><ul><li>List Attributes </li></ul><ul><li>New ideas can come from the improvement of characteristics or attributes of existing ones or by transferring attributes from one situation to another </li></ul><ul><li>Breaking problems into their components can generate ideas leading to a solution </li></ul>
  14. 14. More on Generating Alternatives <ul><li>Use a Checklist </li></ul><ul><li>A checklist is a series of questions that directs your attention to components of the problem </li></ul><ul><li>* List the attributes and characteristics of the problem. How can some of them be changed? </li></ul><ul><li>Physical dimensions (long, tall, large, wide, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Social dimensions (number of people, communications patterns, norms, goals, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>The order of things (right-left, up-down, first-last) </li></ul><ul><li>Time element (faster-slower, longer-shorter) </li></ul><ul><li>Cost (more-less, high-low) </li></ul><ul><li>Texture (rough-smooth, hard-soft, wet-dry, heavy-light) </li></ul><ul><li>Function (do more, do less) </li></ul><ul><li>* What are the parts to the problem? </li></ul><ul><li>* How can things be changed? </li></ul><ul><li>* What are the two or three possible solutions? Which one do you like best; least? What are your reasons for the choice? </li></ul>
  15. 15. More on Generating Alternatives <ul><li>Working Backward </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes we know what we want as an outcome to the problem, working backward becomes useful here </li></ul><ul><li>Begin with the outcome. Then, work step-by-step backward to the point that you are at now. </li></ul><ul><li>This technique breaks the problem down into manageable units as well as helping generate alternative solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Often, when working backward you can see combinations that will work better than single steps </li></ul><ul><li>This is also an excellent technique for goal-setting </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Sixth Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Evaluate the Alternative Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Picking the best option is not always that easy </li></ul><ul><li>You can become trapped by two facts associated with making a choice: </li></ul><ul><li>You will probably never be aware of all the alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>You will usually not be able to experience all of your alternatives before choosing </li></ul><ul><li>You must take whatever alternatives are generated and make your decision </li></ul><ul><li>A general guideline is to, first, evaluate the options that are available to you </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluating alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Use criteria to evaluate alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Assess each alternative against whatever criteria apply to a situation </li></ul>
  17. 17. More on Evaluating Alternatives <ul><li>General criteria that can be applied to almost any problem </li></ul><ul><li>Tangible and monetary benefits and costs </li></ul><ul><li>Money, material supplies, equipment, the number of people required, travel, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Intangible and personal psychological benefits and costs </li></ul><ul><li>Time and energy required, deadlines, emotional consequences, changes in attitudes and beliefs, effects on relationships, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Likely acceptance of ideas by others </li></ul><ul><li>There are pros and cons to any alternative solutions to a problem </li></ul><ul><li>Each alternative must be evaluated separately </li></ul><ul><li>Select one option and brainstorm the pros and cons </li></ul><ul><li>Use this list to develop a list of pros and cons for each of the other options </li></ul><ul><li>If a new consideration develops while listing pros and cons, use it as a basis to evaluate all of the other alternatives </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Seventh Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Select a Solution or Course of Action </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluating alternatives against a criteria can’t tell you the best solution, only the relative strengths and weaknesses of the options </li></ul><ul><li>The role of perceived gains and losses </li></ul><ul><li>To make a choice, you need to understand how your perceptions of how what you stand to gain and lose affect your capacity to choose </li></ul><ul><li>Your personal stake is your potential gains or losses associated with a decision </li></ul><ul><li>They can be tangible or intangible: money, property, friends, emotional, self- respect, confidence, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Sure gains brings acceptance; sure loss brings risky decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Risky decisions are more likely to produce problems </li></ul>
  19. 19. More on Selecting a Solution <ul><li>Making choices in the face of potential gains and losses </li></ul><ul><li>Personal stakes are always present, what varies is the amount to be gained or lost and which is most important </li></ul><ul><li>Need a decision-making strategy that can do: </li></ul><ul><li>Help sort through the benefits and costs associated with each option </li></ul><ul><li>Help to minimize the problems that sometimes occur from selecting a sure gain or overly risky alternative </li></ul><ul><li>One strategy is to select the alternative that has the most benefits/pros and fewest costs/cons </li></ul><ul><li>Second strategy is to choose the alternative that yields the highest numerical differences between the pros and cons </li></ul><ul><li>Neither will produce a perfect solution but you can get the best possible solution </li></ul>
  20. 20. More on Selecting a Solution <ul><li>If necessary, look for ways to get unstuck </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re still feeling stuck: </li></ul><ul><li>Put the problem aside for a while </li></ul><ul><li>Provides rest and allows you to recover from fatigue </li></ul><ul><li>This “incubation period” can give you a chance to consider parts of the problem while doing other activities </li></ul><ul><li>Dream about the problem </li></ul><ul><li>The content of your dreams may contain information in symbolic form that can give insight into the solution </li></ul><ul><li>Examine your decision-making style </li></ul><ul><li>It may be your personal style or preference for making decisions that’s the problem </li></ul><ul><li>Follow your heart </li></ul><ul><li>When all else fail, do what “feels right for you” </li></ul><ul><li>Take care that your ego isn’t in control </li></ul>
  21. 21. More on Selecting a Solution <ul><li>Managing the uncertainty that a decision will not work out as planned </li></ul><ul><li>Unexpected events can come between the time a decision is made and the outcome you hope to achieve </li></ul><ul><li>The likelihood that such intervening events will adversely affect your choice is called risk when it can be objectively assessed and uncertainty when it can’t. </li></ul><ul><li>Uncertainty is always in the background and is seen in anxiety, hesitation, hunches that don’t work, and feeling overwhelmed </li></ul><ul><li>Try to identify things that could go wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Look for delays, added expenses, accidents, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Build in safeguards to protect yourself is something does go wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Have a “back-up plan” </li></ul><ul><li>Try to imagine what would happen if your solution fails </li></ul>
  22. 22. The Eighth Step in the Decision-Making Process <ul><li>Implement and Monitor Your Solution or Course of Action </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes corrections need to be made </li></ul><ul><li>A choice doesn’t mean that it is the only way to go </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, you need to monitor and evaluate your solution throughout its progress to see how it’s working out </li></ul><ul><li>Circumstances change, and a good decision today may not be the best for the future </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes a “self-destruct” deadline may be a good option </li></ul><ul><li>It can help you to monitor what you’re doing and you can make a better decision once you begin nearing your deadline </li></ul>