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Problem Solving: World Problems Brian Heins CBE 562 November 2, 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Problem Solving: World Problems Brian Heins CBE 562 November 2, 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Problem Solving: World Problems Brian Heins CBE 562 November 2, 2005

2 Problem Solving: Overview Definition Definition Systematic Approach to Problem Solving Systematic Approach to Problem Solving Define the Problem Define the Problem Determine the Root Cause Determine the Root Cause Identify a Solution Identify a Solution Implement the Solution Implement the Solution Evaluate the Success of the Solution Evaluate the Success of the Solution Problem Solved? Problem Solved?

3 What is a problem? Many ways to define, the simplest is: Many ways to define, the simplest is: When what you observe is different than what you expected When what you observe is different than what you expected

4 Common Mistakes Jump to conclusions Jump to conclusions Rely on old assumptions in new situations Rely on old assumptions in new situations Fail to collect information to clarify the situation Fail to collect information to clarify the situation Implement solutions which only eliminate the symptoms Implement solutions which only eliminate the symptoms

5 Systematic Approach Define the problem Define the problem Example: Example: (Class participation) (Class participation) Guidelines: Guidelines: Objective definitions Objective definitions Bad: “Poor customer service” Bad: “Poor customer service” Good: “Customers calling before noon are put on hold for an average of 15 minutes” Good: “Customers calling before noon are put on hold for an average of 15 minutes”

6 Brainstorm #1 Class brainstorm: World Problems Class brainstorm: World Problems Guidelines: Guidelines: Strive for Quantity Strive for Quantity Do not Criticize Do not Criticize 3 Minutes 3 Minutes

7 Brainstorm #2 Strive for quantity is thinking vertically Strive for quantity is thinking vertically Take another minute to think laterally: Take another minute to think laterally: Brainstorm categories of world problems Brainstorm categories of world problems Then, brainstorm specific w.p.’s for this category Then, brainstorm specific w.p.’s for this category Remember: no wrong answers! Remember: no wrong answers! Spend another 4 minutes on each section Spend another 4 minutes on each section

8 Define the Problem Let’s choose world hunger: Let’s choose world hunger: 852 million people across the world are hungry 852 million people across the world are hungry Every day, more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes Every day, more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes Hunger…results in stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness Hunger…results in stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness Countries in which a large portion of the population battles hunger daily are usually poor Countries in which a large portion of the population battles hunger daily are usually poor More… More… More…

9 Determine the root cause Brainstorm #3: possible causes Brainstorm #3: possible causes Guidelines: Guidelines: Strive for Quantity Strive for Quantity Think both laterally and vertically Think both laterally and vertically Do not criticize or evaluate, just make ideas! Do not criticize or evaluate, just make ideas! 2 minutes 2 minutes

10 Root Causes:

11 Most probable root cause Here, we will use consensus Here, we will use consensus Consensus: Consensus: Not: unanimous or total agreement Not: unanimous or total agreement Reaching a decision everyone can live with Reaching a decision everyone can live with Weighted votes to reduce list to “vital few” Weighted votes to reduce list to “vital few” Remove non-controversial items Remove non-controversial items “Vital few” get further discussion “Vital few” get further discussion

12 Identify a solution To determine solution, we: To determine solution, we: Brainstorm solutions Brainstorm solutions Use list reduction to evaluate ideas Use list reduction to evaluate ideas Use decision-making techniques Use decision-making techniques First: Brainstorm #4 First: Brainstorm #4

13 List Reduction Develop a list of criteria that the solution must meet. Develop a list of criteria that the solution must meet. Develop a list that the solution should meet. Develop a list that the solution should meet. In general, remove “solutions” which fail to meet must criteria In general, remove “solutions” which fail to meet must criteria May keep some solutions which meet many should criteria May keep some solutions which meet many should criteria Few real-world problems have only one solution. Few real-world problems have only one solution.

14 Solution Identification The solution to the situation will depend upon: The solution to the situation will depend upon: Importance – The seriousness of the problem solution Importance – The seriousness of the problem solution Control – The extent to which you can influence the factors causing the problem and the solution Control – The extent to which you can influence the factors causing the problem and the solution Difficulty – A judgment about the length of time it will take to implement the solution Difficulty – A judgment about the length of time it will take to implement the solution

15 Solution Identification Time – A judgment about the length of time it will take to implement the solution Time – A judgment about the length of time it will take to implement the solution Resources – the amount of resources needed to implement the solution Resources – the amount of resources needed to implement the solution Return on Investment – Estimated payoff Return on Investment – Estimated payoff Risks – The possible adverse consequences of implementing the solution Risks – The possible adverse consequences of implementing the solution

16 World Hunger Solution? Importance: Importance: Control: Control: Difficulty: Difficulty: Time: Time: Resources: Resources: ROI: ROI: Risks: Risks:

17 Implement the Solution Common mistake: not adequately planning the implementation of the solution Common mistake: not adequately planning the implementation of the solution Must plan and schedule each of the tasks to be performed based on the availability of resources Must plan and schedule each of the tasks to be performed based on the availability of resources Must ensure that the plan is followed Must ensure that the plan is followed

18 Evaluate the Success of the Solution Must establish means of determining whether the solution corrected the root cause and did not merely hide the symptoms Must establish means of determining whether the solution corrected the root cause and did not merely hide the symptoms If it has not corrected the problem, cycle back through the process If it has not corrected the problem, cycle back through the process Problem adequately defined? Problem adequately defined? Root cause incorrect? Root cause incorrect? Solution was not best choice? Solution was not best choice?

19 Final Notes

20 Generating Ideas What we did is referred to going up and down the cone: What we did is referred to going up and down the cone:

21 Structured Decision Making According to Webster, a decision is, “A solution that ends uncertainty or dispute…by making choices between alternatives.” According to Webster, a decision is, “A solution that ends uncertainty or dispute…by making choices between alternatives.” Best decisions are made objectively Best decisions are made objectively Quantitative rather than qualitative Quantitative rather than qualitative Can use the DECIDE method Can use the DECIDE method

22 DECIDE Define the object of your decision Define the object of your decision Write out precisely what the objective of the decision is. It should be what you hope to achieve from whatever option you eventually choose. Write out precisely what the objective of the decision is. It should be what you hope to achieve from whatever option you eventually choose. Establish characteristics for your “perfect” choice Establish characteristics for your “perfect” choice Use quantitative selection criteria Use quantitative selection criteria

23 DECIDE Choose options to consider Choose options to consider Brainstorm options that obviously meet many of the criteria. Brainstorm options that obviously meet many of the criteria. Impartially assess the options against the criteria Impartially assess the options against the criteria Determine the best option Determine the best option Choose the one which meets the most must criteria (with or without weighting) Choose the one which meets the most must criteria (with or without weighting)

24 DECIDE Evaluate possible consequences of your choice Evaluate possible consequences of your choice If the risks cannot be overcome, another option may be the best choice If the risks cannot be overcome, another option may be the best choice

25 References World Hunger Information: World Hunger Information: Tau Beta Pi Engineering Futures: “Problem Solving” Tau Beta Pi Engineering Futures: “Problem Solving” Taken form Interact Performance Systems Taken form Interact Performance Systems


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