There are many approaches to problem solving, depending on
the nature of the problem and the people involved in the problem.
The more traditional, rational approach is typically used and
involves, eg, clarifying description of the problem, analyzing
causes, identifying alternatives, assessing each alternative,
choosing one, implementing it, and evaluating whether the problem
was solved or not.
Another, more state-of-the-art approach is appreciative inquiry.
That approach asserts that "problems" are often the
result of our own perspectives on a phenomena, eg, if we look
at it as a "problem," then it will become one and we''''ll
probably get very stuck on the "problem." Appreciative
inquiry includes identification of our best times about the situation
in the past, wishing and thinking about what worked best then,
visioning what we want in the future, and building from our strengths
to work toward our vision.
The activities of problem solving and decision making are closely
intertwined, so the reader will often find mention of the two
topics together. 1. What is the real problem to be solved?
It is very important that the problem should be fully and adequately defined. The
underlying hidden issues should also be explored so that they can be sensitively dealt
with in the context of the more obvious problem features. If the problem is not carefully
identified then it is extremely difficult to find satisfactory solutions. (Sometimes
actually identifying the problem is the key to its solution.) Therefore define
the stressor or stress reactions within a full context. Ask are there any underlying
issues that also need to be addressed?
2. What is the ideal solution?
Try to define what you would consider to be the ideal solution. Many alternative solutions
may emerge in the process. In fact it is helpful to have as many alternatives as possible.
This process may be time consuming and sometime exhausting but it is absolutely necessary.
3. What options do I have?
Apply action possibilities to the goals set in Step 2. Some goals may have to be
eliminated because they are unrealistic. Others may have to be modified. Some can be
achieved. Be specific in defining the possible solutions. Try to be creative when
considering options. Develop some really crazy ones just to get your mind stimulated. Mix
and match various ideas just to see where they lead. All the historic problem solvers from
Archimedes to Einstein have been noted for their feats of bringing to bear, on difficult
problems, concepts and principles from apparently disparate fields of knowledge.
4. What might happen if I put these
options into practice?
Consider the consequences of taking certain steps. Imagine and consider how others might
respond if they faced a similar situation. Make realistic assessments and do not avoid
painful answers. Write down the consequences and face them no matter how difficult that
might be in the first instance. It is possible to make considerable progress once reality
is confronted. Strength can be drawn from reality. Evaluate the pros and cons. Rehearse
strategies and behaviours by means of creative imagination.
5. What is my decision?
This is often the most difficult step of all. Consult with others; discuss the options
facing you; draw on good advice. Having considered all the alternatives then make a
decision. Don''''t waffle or procrastinate. This will only aggravate the problem rather than
solving it.6. Now Do It!
Apply action to the problem. Set up an action timetable and take the first steps. Keep
things moving. Try out the most acceptable and feasible solution. Apply the necessary