Teamwork sculpture by David Wynne, 1958, England

Problem Solving Model

Adapted from Sonia Goltz, BA2700, and discussed in more detail in “Teaching Teamwork and Problem Solving Concurrently,” Journal of Management Education. 32(2008): 541-562. Some sections have been revised here in order to make the applications local and productive on Enterprise Teams.

Recognizing and defining the problem should include:

a  Identify, define, and diagnose the problem:  identifying the discrepancy between actual and desired performance—a GAP analysis; understanding the causes and effects of the problem; understanding the components of the problem and related problems
a  Information collection:  Identifying the information needed to understand the problem; collecting information from multiple sources; identifying missing pieces of information.
a  Information sorting:  Distinguishing between information relevant to understanding and defining the problem and irrelevant or tangential information; distinguishing between viewpoints, opinions, assertions, and facts.

Generating alternative solutions should include:

a  Deep Dive
a  Brainstorming
a  Openmindedness:  requires avoidance of biases, avoidance of premature evaluation
of alternatives, and acceptance of multiple viewpoints
a  Quantity:  requires a persistent, wide search for possible solutions and creative ways of generating solutions
a  Quality:  requires innovation solutions as well as standard solutions, clear statement of the solutions, and information pertinent to each alternative solution

Evaluating the alternatives and selecting one should include:

a  Screening alternatives according to whether they meet absolute requirements
a  Evaluation:  Measurement of each alternative on these requirements and other dimensions
a  Knowledge of boundaries:  The collection of information on boundaries/constraints/risks for each alternative such as political and cultural pressures, ethical and resource constraints, and additional problems the solution might create
a  Comparison:  The comparison of all alternatives on the dimensions using a weighting system or group techniques

Effective implementation of the solution includes:

a  Communicating and selling:  Effectively communicating and advocating  the solution (e.g., to boards, clients); obtaining support for the solution at all levels
a  Planning:  Developing action plans for solution implementation with who, when, what, how specified
a  Navigating:  Being aware of resistance to organizational change and implementing strategies to decrease resistance
a  Creating feedback mechanisms: planning ways to measure the effectiveness of the solution, including what to measure, how to measure it, when to measure it and who will be involved

Evaluation and followup of the solution

a  Measuring:  Measuring the dimensions as specified in the implementation plan
a  Comparing:  Comparing the performance standards with the measurements
a  Adjusting:  Tweaking the solution according to feedback on problem areas

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