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Welcome to How to solve (almost) any problem Alan Barker Kairos Training Limited 23 May 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Welcome to How to solve (almost) any problem Alan Barker Kairos Training Limited 23 May 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Welcome to How to solve (almost) any problem Alan Barker Kairos Training Limited 23 May 2013

2 Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which the problems were created. Albert Einstein

3 What is a problem? Answer this question on flipchart paper, in as many ways as possible – without using words

4 You know you’ve got a problem when: you want to do something, but you don’t know what to do

5 Stuck. No answer. Honked. Kaput. This is the zero moment of consciousness. It’s a miserable experience emotionally. You’re losing time. You’re incompetent. You don’t know what you’re doing. You should be ashamed of yourself.


7 Why don’t we get stuck every second?

8 Mental models organize our reality. Without them, no world would exist for us. [Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell]

9 Human beings are not so much problem-solvers as solution-seekers.


11 Intuitive problem- solving Understanding the problem and solving it are the same thing. The match of information to mental model is the solution.

12 Sometimes, our mental models won’t work. (Can you see what it is?)

13 And when that happens, we get stuck.

14 Stuckness affects our limbic system (where we respond emotionally to external stimuli...)

15 The result can be the fight-or-flight response...

16 ... which can cause all sorts of stress – and lead to a longer- term stress response. Bad news.

17 Part of problem solving, then, has to be emotional intelligence.

18 Solutions unstick our thinking....

19 problem solution Stuckness opens a gap in our problem- solving response...

20 ... into which rational problem- solving can enter.


22 Problem-solving: two approaches Rational Problem: something is not as it should be Solution: a ‘fix’ that stays fixed Whole-brain Problem: we are stuck Solution: moving; becoming becoming ‘unstuck’; ‘unstuck’; a course of action a course of action

23 Problem-solving: two approaches Rational What’s the problem? What’s the cause? Why? (five times) What’s in the way? How do we put it right? What can we measure? How do we break the problem into manageable parts? Whole-brain What do I want to achieve? What if…? What if the problem were a solution? Why not? What else could we do? What rules can we break? What is the problem like?

24 Who owns the problem? Problems without owners tend to become unmade decisions. Somebody has to be responsible for tackling the problem. The problem owner:  defines the problem at the outset;  decides how to think about it;  chooses the course of action to tackle it; and  commits to dealing with it.

25 Where is the problem? Circle of Influence Some problems are in our Circle of Influence, and some in our Circle of Concern.

26 Circle of concern Circle of influence Steven Covey says that we should aim to deal with problems that are in our Circle of Influence, and put aside problems in our Circle of Concern.

27 Circle of influence Stephen Covey Circle of influence Effective problem solvers strive continually to increase their Circle of Influence.

28 blame Four levels of ownership

29 resistance Four levels of ownership

30 responsibility Four levels of ownership

31 commitment Four levels of ownership

32 Two stages of thinking reality 1:Perception sensation; intuition Representation: language, models, images 2: Judgement reason evaluation Action

33 Two stages of thinking We do first-stage thinking to work out what we are thinking about. We do second-stage thinking to work out what to do about it.

34 Two stages of thinking Perception determines what we know. Judgement determines what we know about what we know.

35 First-stage thinking First-stage thinking uses perception: the five senses, and intuition (our sixth sense, or perception using the unconscious).

36 Representation The output of first-stage thinking is language. = dog

37 Second-stage thinking Second-stage thinking uses judgement: reason and evaluation. Second-stage thinking manipulates language to reach its conclusions. The dog is healthy. The dog is alert. The dog is looking at its owner. (etc.)

38 We have all sorts of technology to help us do second- stage thinking...

39 ...but not so many to do first-stage thinking. (Mind maps are good stage-one thinking tools.)

40 Leaping to judgement: the dangers of ignoring first-stage thinking Product development Engineering the product rather than seeking to satisfy the customer’s needs Contractual negotiations Addressing perceived ‘issues’ rather than questioning assumptions about what the issues are Corporate strategy Re-engineering structures rather than asking ‘What business are we in?’

41 To improve your problem- solving skills: Improve your first-stage thinking

42 First-stage thinking: two questions 1.How is the problem structured? 2.Is the problem presented to us or constructed by us?

43 Structuring a problem Initial conditions [Where am I?] Goal conditions [Where do I want to be?] Operators [How do I get from where I am to where I want to be?] Constraints [What limits my action?]

44 Structuring a problem Assess: initial conditions; goal conditions; operators; constraints. If all four are clear, the problem is well structured. [WSP] If any or all are unclear, the problem is ill-structured. [ISP]

45 Two types of problem presented constructed

46 Presented problems Express as a statement of what is wrong Happen to us Not our fault but we are responsible for solving them Obstacle in our path Perceived gap: what is/what should be Cause stress Solution: fight or flight

47 Presented problems: examples The photocopier breaking down A new product invading our market Being stuck in a traffic jam Delays in a production process

48 Constructed problems Express as a phrase beginning ‘how to…’ Made by us We are responsible for creating them The reason for taking the journey Perceived gap: what is/what could be Cause creative tension Solution: dispel tension by releasing energy

49 Constructed problems: examples Gaining a qualification Improving quality Innovating a new product or service Increasing market share

50 planpuzzle headache dream

51 1 Puzzles (presented; WSP) A deviation from the norm. One right answer.

52 1 Puzzles (presented; WSP) Archetypal examples are technical: a fault in a machine, an interruption in the power supply, a piece of equipment that won’t work properly. The classic problem-solving process – diagnose the cause of the problem, remove the cause, solve the problem – will work only for this type of problem.

53 1 Puzzles (presented; WSP): techniques Ishikawa Analysis Asking ‘Why?’ (five times) Tree diagrams (why/why) Apollo Root-cause Analysis Control charts

54 Ishikawa Analysis Use for Type 1 problems (puzzles). Many forms To complete Forms not Complete Inability to access supplier website Supplier loses the file Supplier has varying processing times depending on circumstances Friendly supplier on leave Executive underpromises the delivery date Executive not realistic in estimating time Not in office in training ProceduresPeople Equipment Approving Authority Inability to estimate accurately processing time Missing Data New change in policy Hard to establish strong working relationship with supplier

55 Root Cause Analysis Use for Type 1 problems (puzzles). Primary effect Action cause Conditional cause evidence

56 Solving puzzles strengthens the urge to find the correct answer......which is sometimes unhelpful......because not every problem has a single correct answer. (Which shape is the odd one out?)

57 2 Headaches (presented; ISP) A deviation from the norm. No single or obvious right answer. The problem may have no identifiable cause, or have many causes.

58 2 Headaches (presented; ISP) Much traditional problem-solving spends a lot of time and effort trying to turn Type 2 problems into Type 1 problems. Unfortunately, Type 2 problems often have a habit of reverting to type.

59 2 Headaches (presented; ISP): techniques Live with it: suppress the pain Use a sticking plaster (hide the problem) Transform the problem into another type of problem (move the problem into another quadrant) Walk away

60 Aspirin Use for Type 2 problems (headaches). Use sparingly.

61 3 Planning problems (constructed; WSP) A challenge to be achieved. One clear goal.

62 3 Planning problems (constructed; WSP) Mapped out in terms of objectives, targets, milestones and measures of success. Examples include working out objectives after an appraisal, setting a budget, giving the team a sales or quality target, or organizing a project.

63 3 Planning problems (constructed; WSP): techniques Action plans Gantt charts Force Field Analysis Solution Effect Analysis Tree diagrams (how/how)

64 Gantt chart Use for Type 3 problems (plans).

65 Force Field Analysis Use for Type 3 problems (plans).

66 4 Dreams (constructed; ISP) Objective: to find something new: a product or service, a new process, a new territory, a new set of goals. No obvious answer.

67 4 Dreams (constructed; ISP) Demands creative or lateral thinking. Cannot be tackled operationally. Examples: creating new products or sources of customer satisfaction.

68 4 Dreams (constructed; ISP): techniques Brainstorming ‘How to’ Metaphorical analysis Reversal Synectics

69 Oracle Use for Type 4 problems (dreams).

70 Using the problem grid Take a problem that you currently face at work. Where would you currently place the problem in the grid? (Type 1, 2, 3 or 4)? Why? Where would you like the problem to be in the grid? Why? How could you transform the way you look at the problem to put it in that quadrant? What can you do right now?

71 Find out more...

72 Kairos Training Limited

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