Problem Solving Made Easy
"Just fix it. There's too much to do." How many times have you heard something like this only to have a problem get out of control and blow up in your face? This doesn't have to happen. This article defines three types of problems, two types of solutions, and outlines an effective problem solving process that you can use.
One company we know used the "just fix it" approach on a manufacturing process because management said they didn't have time to do anything else. Deadlines kept coming and the product had to go out the door. After three years and several million dollars, the products still didnt meet objectives. They finally created a problem solving team that was facilitated by a trained problem solving expert. Within two meetings, problems were understood, solutions found and evaluated, and a plan of action put into motion. The problems were finally solved. They could have saved a great deal of time and money if they had used effective problem solving methods from the beginning. Doing it right the first time is still a good idea. Two properly run problem solving meetings solved a three year problem.
What is a problem?
A problem is a condition that's not acceptable. It may involve tangible and/or intangible elements such as people, processes, systems, states of affair, products, circumstances, or any business or personal situation. Here are three common types of problems:
What is a solution?
A solution is a man-made resolution to a problem. Here are two common types of solutions:
In spite of the best of intentions not all of our solutions turn out to be good or effective. Fortunately there are approaches that can help you achieve more good than bad solutions.
What is Effective Problem Solving?
Effective problem solving is any method by which problems are solved for a satisfactory amount of time to a satisfactory degree without wasting time and resources. These methods are characterized by the use of systematized tools. One of a number of such methods, called Creative Problem Solving*, was developed over decades of work primarily by people associated with the Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College.
Understanding of the method can help you attack problems much more effectively than traditional methods.
Creative Problem Solving involves three components and six stages. The process may be started with any of the three components. The components and stages are as follows.
This problem solving model is effective because of a number of key factors.
SUMMARY: Process cuts through barriers to achieve understanding.
Using processes such as Creative Problem Solving allows you to cut through barriers to come to an adequate understanding. You don't need to know it all, just enough to make good decisions.
These tools and processes work to stretch the current level of understanding by encouraging new thinking and new combinations. They are useful for solving problems, gathering information, processing that information, and for stimulating consideration of new opportunities. You can use them to solve all three types of problems even the messy ones.
Success is enhanced by the use of a skilled practitioner as a facilitator and good team training. A facilitator focuses on process while you focus on content. Consistently superior results warrant the investment in the use of Creative Problem Solving methods.
Use effective problem solving methods to solve the difficult (big and/or complex) problems that can put you out of business one at a time or the less-important and/or less-complex problems that will eat your lunch while youre not looking. Set your priorities carefully and take control of your problems today with systematic methods such as Creative Problem Solving.
Learn Advanced Product Development techniques from an expert in creativity:
Steven C. Martin is one of fewer than 400 people in the world to have a Master of Science degree in Creativity. He is a patented inventor and creativity expert who has taught widely in a broad range of settings.
We teach creativity and innovation in in-house courses ranging from hours to one week. These high-impact hands-on creativity sessions are guaranteed to teach you how to be more creative and innovative.
For public courses use this link to our collaboration partner: Innovation & Creativity Workshop 2-Day and Accelerated Innovation & Creativity Training Workshops
*Reference: Creative Approaches to Problem Solving by Scott Isaksen, K. Brian Dorval, Donald J. Treffinger, 1994. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque, Iowa.
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