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Problem Analysis & Problem Solving

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Asking the Right Questions. Albert Einstein is often quoted (perhaps apocryphally) as saying, “If I had 20 days to solve a problem, I would spend 19 days to define it.” Innovation is a particularly sticky problem because it so often remains undefined. We treat it as a monolith, as if every innovation is the same, which is why so many expensive programs end up going nowhere. So how should we go about it? Should we hand it over to the guys with white lab coats, an external partner, a specialist in the field, crowdsource it, or what? Before handing them off, you need a clear framework for defining innovation problems and approaches that are most likely to resolve them.

Defining a managerial approach to innovation starts with developing a better understanding of the problem we need to solve. How well is the problem defined? Who is best-placed to solve it? Once we’ve asked the framing questions, we can determine which approach to innovation makes the most sense: Apple, for example, is a superior sustaining innovator. Wicked problems. Wicked problems. Wicked problem. 20 Points to Help You Solve Problems.

The Art of Complex Problem Solving. How To Think Critically and Problem Solve. The quote by Jean De La Bruyere: "Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think," may seem a bit radical, however, according to the premise of cognitive psychology, what you think is what you feel. While many people believe that your feelings precede, or are independent of your thoughts, the truth is that your feelings are products of your thoughts. This revelation can be both daunting and liberating. Daunting because it makes us responsible for our attitudes and liberating because we have the power to choose our perspective, mood and thoughts. When we are aware that we can choose and direct our thinking, we realize that we have the ability to better control the circumstances of our lives, improve our decision-making processes and generally live more productive lives.

This in no way suggests that we need downplay the many feelings and emotions we as humans enjoy, it's a simply a way for us to manage and balance them with our cognitive abilities. Critical Thinking and Problem-solving. Critical Thinking What is Critical Thinking? When examining the vast literature on critical thinking, various definitions of critical thinking emerge. Here are some samples: "Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action" (Scriven, 1996 ).

"Most formal definitions characterize critical thinking as the intentional application of rational, higher order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, problem recognition and problem solving, inference, and evaluation" (Angelo, 1995, p. 6 ). Perhaps the simplest definition is offered by Beyer (1995) : "Critical thinking... means making reasoned judgments" (p. 8). Characteristics of Critical Thinking Wade (1995) identifies eight characteristics of critical thinking. Why Teach Critical Thinking? Problem Solving & Decision Making - Kepner-Tregoe. Analytical Thinking: Why You Need It and How to Get Better. Analytical thinking skills are critical in the work place because they help you to gather information, articulate, visualize and solve complex problems.

Even with comprehensive training, there will be many times where you will be put on the spot to think analytically and the right or wrong answer could make a difference with regard to your upward mobility within the company. You want your employees and especially your boss to trust that you will make the most well-informed and correct decisions. Some decisions can even make or break your career. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have well-developed analytical thinking skills. Analytical Vs. Some people make the assumption that analytical thinking and critical thinking are one in the same. When you think critically, you make the decision whether or not an event, an object or situation appears to be right or wrong. As for analytical thinking, you use it to break down a series of complex bits of information.

Root cause analysis. Root cause analysis (RCA) is a method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems.[1] A factor is considered a root cause if removal thereof from the problem-fault-sequence prevents the final undesirable event from recurring; whereas a causal factor is one that affects an event's outcome, but is not a root cause.

Though removing a causal factor can benefit an outcome, it does not prevent its recurrence with certainty. For example, imagine a fictional segment of students who received poor testing scores. After initial investigation, it was verified that students taking tests in the final period of the school day got lower scores. Further investigation revealed that late in the day, the students lacked ability to focus. Even further investigation revealed that the reason for the lack of focus was hunger. So, the root cause of the poor testing scores was hunger, remedied by moving the testing time to soon after lunch. General principles[edit] See also[edit] Ishikawa diagram. Ishikawa diagrams (also called fishbone diagrams, herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, or Fishikawa) are causal diagrams created by Kaoru Ishikawa (1968) that show the causes of a specific event.[1][2] Common uses of the Ishikawa diagram are product design and quality defect prevention, to identify potential factors causing an overall effect.

Each cause or reason for imperfection is a source of variation. Causes are usually grouped into major categories to identify these sources of variation. The categories typically include: Overview[edit] Ishikawa diagram, in fishbone shape, showing factors of Equipment, Process, People, Materials, Environment and Management, all affecting the overall problem. Smaller arrows connect the sub-causes to major causes. Ishikawa diagrams were popularized by Kaoru Ishikawa[3] in the 1960s, who pioneered quality management processes in the Kawasaki shipyards, and in the process became one of the founding fathers of modern management.

Causes[edit] Assumption surfacing and testing. It is all too easy to treat the routines or rules which we use in certain types of situation as inevitable and ordained. The aim of this tool is to bring to the surface and make more visible the assumptions underlying our choices and actions. Make a list of some of the ‘rules’ by which you make decisions: for example, who you consult, where you would look for best practice, how you go about getting approval, etc. Ask yourself why you feel it is the best choice and on what critical assumptions your customary behaviour depends. List the assumptions, and beside each formulate a counter-assumption – not necessarily its negation, but rather the opposite pole of the construct (issue) it represents.

Now consider what would happen if the counter-assumption was in fact the case. Work down the list and delete ineffective assumption/counter-assumption pairs i.e. where it would make little difference to your choice whether the assumption or the counter-assumption was actually the case. Example. Five Whys Tool for Root Cause Analysis. 5 Whys. The 5 Whys is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.[1] The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem.

(The "5" in the name derives from an empirical observation on the number of iterations typically required to resolve the problem.) Example[edit] The vehicle will not start. (the problem)Why? - The battery is dead. (first why)Why? - The alternator is not functioning. The questioning for this example could be taken further to a sixth, seventh, or higher level, but five iterations of asking why is generally sufficient to get to a root cause.

It is interesting to note that the last answer points to a process. A key phrase to keep in mind in any 5 Why exercise is "people do not fail, processes do". History[edit] Techniques[edit] Criticism[edit] These can be significant problems when the method is applied through deduction only. See also[edit] References[edit] An Introduction to 5-why. Learn how to find root causes of a problem by using 5-why analysis, so you can fix the issues where it matters most. First in a series of four articles explaining this powerful tool. By Karn G. Bulsuk More information: 5-why Analysis using a Fishbone Diagram, 5-why Analysis using an Excel Spreadsheet Table and The Weaknesses of 5-Why 5-why analysis, used throughout the kaizen concept and in quality control, is a tool to discover the root causes of a problem.

More often than not, people fix a problem by dealing with issues that are immediately apparent. For example, suppose we had a tree which was wilting and dying. Instead, we need to investigate the cause of the wilting. Most people get stuck in the Do-Do-Do-Do cycle, in which they carpet bomb every possible solution with no guarantee that they will fix the true problem, wasting time, effort, and often money. 5-why analysis provides the tool to engage in precision targeting to fix the right problem in one go. Using 5-why More information: 5-whys Analysis using an Excel Spreadsheet Table. Find out how to visualize your five-whys analysis by putting it into a spreadsheet, including a downloadable five why template and tutorial. Part 2 of a four part series on 5-whys. By Karn G. Bulsuk More information: An Introduction to 5-whys, 5-whys Analysis using a Fishbone Diagram and The Weaknesses of 5-WhysDownloads: 5-whys Template Download and Step-by-step example on how to perform a 5-why analysis Visualizing your 5-whys analysis in a table is the best way to show the causal links between your causes and the ultimate root causes.

Imagine that there is a company called Alencia which specializes in receiving outsourced executive recruitment work, where they match talent to specific jobs and receive commission for doing so. In the past year, demand has boomed and their business has expanded rapidly, but at a price: while demand has increased, capacity has remained the same, leading to a large back log of job requests. Setting Up the Excel Sheet The First Why The Fourth Why Root Causes.