Generating Solutions: The Problem Solving Process

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  • Topic: Problem solving, Brainstorming, Ishikawa diagram
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  • Published : May 6, 2013
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CIVL 1101

Problem Solving - Chapters 5-6

1/8

Generating Solutions
“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it is the only one you have.”

Generating Solutions
Once you have defined the problem you want to make sure you generate the best solution. Perseverance is perhaps the most notable characteristic of successful problem solvers, so you shouldn’t become discouraged when solutions aren’t immediately evident. Many times mental blocks hinder your progress toward a solution. What is the nature of these mental blocks and what causes them?

Evaluate the Solution Implement the Solution Decide the Course of Action Generate Solutions Define the Problem

Common Causes of Mental Blocks
Defining the problem too narrowly. Attacking the symptoms and not the real problem. Assuming there is only one right answer. Getting ”hooked’ on the first solution that comes to mind. Getting ”hooked” on a solution that almost works (but really doesn’t).

Common Causes of Mental Blocks
Distracted by irrelevant information, called “mental dazzle.” Getting frustrated by lack of success. Being too anxious to finish. Defining the problem ambiguously.

Break up Mental Blocks
There is a direct correlation between the time people spend “playing” with a problem and the diversity of the solutions generated. Draw four or fewer straight lines (without lifting your pencil from the paper) that will cross through all nine dots.

Break up Mental Blocks
Several creative solutions to the nine dot problem exist:
Roll up the piece of paper such that it is cylindrical in shape and then draw one line around the cylinder that passes thorough all nine dots photoreduce the nine dots and then using a thick felt pen to connect them with a single line Crumple up the piece of paper and stab it with a pencil (this is a statistical approach that may require more than one attempt to hit all the dots)

CIVL 1101

Problem Solving - Chapters 5-6

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What did we learn?
The purpose of this exercise is to show that putting too many constraints (either consciously or unconsciously) on the problem statement narrows the range of possible solutions.

What did we learn?
A novice problem solvers will not cross a perceived imaginary limit--a constraint that is formed unconsciously in the mind of the problem solver--even though it is not part of the problem statement.

What did we learn?
Whenever you are faced with a problem, recall the nine dots to remind yourself to challenge the constraints.

Group Problem
Suggest or devise 25 ways to cross a lake of molasses

Recognizing Mental Blocks
The first step to becoming a better problem solver is to understand what conceptual blocks are and how they interfere with problem solving. A conceptual block is a mental wall that prevents the problem solver from correctly perceiving a problem or conceiving its solution. The most frequently occurring conceptual blocks are perceptual blocks, emotional blocks, cultural blocks, environmental blocks, intellectual blocks, and expressive blocks.

Perceptual Blocks
Obstacles that prevent the problem solver from clearly perceiving either the problem itself or the information needed to solve it. Stereotyping Limiting the problem unnecessarily - recall the nine dot problem Saturation or information overload - Too much information can be nearly as big a problem as not enough information Air traffic controllers have learned to overcome this block

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Problem Solving - Chapters 5-6

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Emotional Blocks
They decrease the amount of freedom with which you explore and manipulate ideas and prevent you from communicating your ideas to others. Fear of risk taking - Implementing a
creative idea is like taking a risk. You take the risk of making a mistake, looking foolish, losing your job, or in a student’s case, getting an unacceptable grade.

Emotional Blocks
They decrease the amount of freedom with which you explore and manipulate ideas and...
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