Blocks in problem solving

Topics: Problem solving, Critical thinking, Problem Pages: 8 (2574 words) Published: February 23, 2014
Barriers to find the best solution in problems
What are problem solving blocks?

A block is anything which prevents us finding an effective solution to a problem. We all experience them, but of different types and intensities. The blocks have been grouped in various ways by different authors according to their cause, eg perceptual

It's important that you are able to recognise when blocks are hindering your problem solving so that you can take action to overcome them. What causes these blocks?
The labels applied to these blocks give some clues to their origins. Perceptual blocks arise from the way we have learnt to recognise information from the world around us. We develop habits of 'seeing' the world, which sometimes can get in the way of finding the best solution to a problem, eg seeing only the most obvious solution.

Emotional blocks arise when our emotional needs conflict with the situation, eg when we do not propose a radical. solution to a problem because we feel it might sound ridiculous and make us look foolish.  Intellectual blocks are caused by us not being able to assimilate information in the ways required to solve a problem, eg not knowing how to evaluate ideas to select the most effective solution. Expressive blocks arise when we are unable to commu­nicate in the way required to produce an effective solution, eg not being able to express our ideas effectively to those who have to implement the solution.            . Environmental blocks are caused by. external obstacles in the social or physical environment, which prevent us from solving a problem effectively, eg distractions from the task. Cultural blocks result from our conditioning to accept what is expected or 'normal' in a given situation, eg when the work ethic says that we must be serious-minded, but finding an effective solution requires some playful fantasy.  All of the blocks, except those caused by the physical environment, arise through learning or lack of it, either our own or that of people who influence us.

We can overcome most of our own blocks permanently by re-learning, and overcome other people's blocks which hinder us by learning ways to sidestep them. The following is an explanation of some of the main blocks that exist under each category heading. A. Perceptual blocks

Perceptual blocks exist when we are unable to clearly perceive a problem or the information needed to solve it effectively .They include: Seeing only what you expect to see
To recognise situations we look for patterns of key features which we have learnt by experience represent a particular situation~ If the key features 'fit' we assume the situations are the same. This often obscures the "true nature of a problem, either because we exclude relevant information (because it isn't a key feature or didn't occur in the past), or include information simply because we assume it is there. Stereotyping

In recognising situations we automatically apply labels (like door, machine, laziness) which can prevent us seeing all the features of. the situation. Often we don't look beyond the obvious. For example, if someone isn't working as hard as we would like and we apply the label 'lazy' to that person, we might overlook the possibility that boredom with monotonous work is the problem, and not laziness. Not recognising problems

A surprising number of problems go unnoticed or are recognised only when the effects have become severe and emergency action is required. Not seeing the problem in perspective
This is related to some of the previous blocks, and results from: taking too narrow a view of the situation, so that we recognise only part of the problem or the information required to solve it failing to recognise how different parts of the problem are related seeing only superficial aspects of the problem, so that the solution is inadequate failing to see the problem from the point of view of other people who...
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