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Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour
HROB 3100
Jamie Gruman

Chapter 3: Solving ProblemsAnalytically and Creatively Problem Solving, Creativity, and Innovation  Effective managers are able to solve problems both analytically and creatively, even though different skills are required for each type of problem Steps in Analytical Problem Solving  In typical problem solving, most people implement a marginally acceptable or merely satsifactory solution instread of the optimal or ideal solution  First impressions and instantaneous judgements are valid, however, mainly when problems are not complex, when people have experience with the issues they are judging and when they have developed an attunement to their own internal cues  Some attributes of good problem definition: ◦ 1. Factual information is differentiated from opinion or speculation. Objective data are separated from perceptions and suppositions ◦ 2.All individuals involed are tapped as information sources ◦ 3. The problem is stated explicitly. This often helps point out ambiguities in the definition ◦ 4. The problem definition clearly identifies what standard or expectation has been violated. ◦ 5. The problem definition must address the questions “ whose problem is this?” no problems are completely independent of people ◦ 6. The definition is not simply a disguised solution. Saying “ the problem is that we need to motivate slow employees” is inapprorpiate because the problem is stated as a solution Model of Problem Solving 1. Define the problem  Differentiate fact from opinion  Specify underlying causes  Tap everyone involved for information  State the problem explicitly  Identify what standard is violated  Determine whose problem it is  Avoid stating the problem as a disguised solution 2. GenerateAlternative Solutions  Postpone evaluating alternatives  Be sure all involved individuals generalte alternatives  Specify alternatives that are consistent with goals  Specify both short-term and long-term alternatives  Build on others ideas  Specify alternatives that solve the problem 3. Evaluate and select an alternative  Evaluate relative to an optimal standard  Evaluate systematically  Evaluate relative to goals  Evaluate main effects and side effects  State the selected alternative explicitly 4. Implement and follow up on the solution  Implement at the proper time and in the right sequence  Provide opportunities for feedback  Engender acceptance of those who are affected  Establish an ongoing monitoring system  Evaluate based on problem solution GeneratingAlternatives  Good alternative generation follow: ◦ 1. The evaluation of each proposed alternative is postponed.All relevant alternatives should be proposed before evaluation is allowed ◦ 2.Alternatives are proposed by all individuals involved in the problem. Broad participation is proposing alternatives improves solution quality and group acceptance ◦ 3.Alternative solutions are consistent with organizational goals or policies. Subversion and criticism are detrimental to both the organization and the alternative generation process ◦ 4.Alternatives build on one another. Bad ideas may become good ones if they are combined with or modified by other ideas ◦ 6.Alternative solve the problem that has been defined.Another problem may also be important, but it should be ignored if it does not directly affect the problem being considered EvaluatingAlternatives  Some attributes of good evaluation are: ◦ 1.Alternatives are evaluated relative to an optimal, rather than a satisfactory standard. Determine what is best rather than just what will work ◦ 2. Evaluation of alternatives occurs systematically so each alternative is given due consideration. Short-circuiting evaluation inhibits selection of optimal alternatives, so adequate time for evaluation and consideration should be allowed ◦ 3.Alternatives are evaluated in terms of the goals of the organization and the needs and expectations of the individuals involved ◦ 4.Alternatives are evaluated in terms of their probable effects. Both side effects and direct effects on the problem are considered, as well as long-term and short-term effects. ◦ 5. The alternative selected is stated explicity. This can help ensure that everyone invovled understands and agrees with the same solution, and it uncovers ambiguities Implementing the Solution  Attributes of effective implementation and follow-up are: ◦ 1. Implemention occurs at the right time and in the proper sequence. It does not ignore constraining factors, and it does not come before steps 1,2,3 in the problem solving processing ◦ 2. Implementation occurs using a “small wins” strategy in order to discourage resistance and engender support ◦ 3. The implementation process includes opportunities for feedback. ◦ 4. Participation by individuals affected by the problem solution is facilitated in order to create support and commitment ◦ 5.An ongoing measurement and monitoring system is set up for the implemented solution. Long-term as well as short-term effects are assessed ◦ 6. Evaluation of success is based on problem solution, not on side benefits.Although the solution may provide some positive outcomes, it is unsucessful unless it solves the problem being considered Limitations of theAnalytical Problem-Solving Model 1. Define the problem Contraints  There is seldom consensus as to the definition of the problem  There is often uncertainty as to whose definition will be accepted  Problems are usually defined in terms of the solutions already possessed  Symptoms get confused with the real problme  Confusing information inhibits problem identification 2. Generate alternative solutions Constraints  Solution alternatives are usually evaluated one at a time as they are proposed  Few of the possible alternatives are usually known  The first acceptable solution is usually accepted  Alternatives ae based on what was successful in the past 3. Evaluate and select an alternative Constraints  Limited information about each alternative is usually available  Search for information occurs close to home – in easily accessible places  the type of information available is constrained by factors such as primacy versus recency, extremity versus centrality  Gathering information on each alternative is costly  Preferences of which is the best alternative are not always known  Satisfactory solutions, not optimal ones, are usually accepted  Solutions are often selected by oversight and default 4. Implement and follow up on the solution Constraints  Acceptance by others of the solution is not always forthcoming  Resistance to change is a universal phenomenon  It is not always clear what part of the solution should be monitored or measured in follow-up  Political and organizational processes must be managed in any implementation effort  It may take a long time to implement a solution MultipleApproaches to Creativity  Imagination: The creation of new ideas, breakthroughs, and radical approaches to problem solving ◦ People who pursue creativity in this way tend to be experiementers, speculators, and entrepreneurs, and they define creativity as exploration, new product innovation, or developing unique visions of possibilities ◦ Achieve this by developing incrementally better alternatives, improving on what already exists, or clarifying the ambiguity that is associated with the problem ◦ Creativity comes by finding ways to improve processes or functions  Improvement: Focuses on incremental, controlled solutions  Investment: Pursuit of rapid goal achievement and competitiveness ◦ People who approach creativity in this way meet challenges head on, adopt a competitive posture, and focus on achieving results faster than others ◦ People achieve creativity by working harder than the competition, exploiting others weaknesses, and being first to offer a product, service or idea  Incubation: An approach to creative activity through teamwork, involvement and coordination among individuals ◦ Creativity occurs by unlocking the potential that exists in interactions among networks of people ◦ Individuals who approach creativity through incubation encourage people to work together, foster trust and cohesion and empower toehrs ◦ Creativity arises from a collective mind-set and shared values  These four creativity approaches differ in the magnitude of the creative ideas being pursued  Imagination focuses on new, revolutionary solutions to problems.  Investment and incubation contradictory and opposing in their approach to creativity ◦ They differ in speed of response ◦ Investment focuses on fast, competitive responses to problems, where as incubation emphasizes more developmental and deliberate responses  Creativity Assessment Survey helps identify your own preferences regarding these different approaches to creativity ◦ You are able to create a profile showing the extent to which you are inclined toward imgaination, improvement, investment or incubation as you approach problems calling for creativity ◦ Quadrant you are highest in is your preferred approach but you will notice that you do not have a single approach Figure 3.2  Imagination is the most appropriate approach to creativity when breakthroughs are needed and when orginal ideas are necessary – bring new  Improvement approach is most appropriate when incremental changes or tightening up proceseses are necessary – being better  Investment approach I smost appropriate when quick responses and goal achivement takes priority – being first  Incubation approach is most appropriate when collective effort and involvement of others is important – being sustainable Conceptual Blocks  Conceptual blaocks are mental obstacles that constrain the way problems are defined, and they can inhibit us from being effective in any of the four types of creatvitiy  Limit the number of alternative solutions that people think about  Every individual has conceptual bloacks, but some people have more numerous and more intense ones than others  These blocks are largely unrecognized or unconscious, so the only way individuals can be made aware of them is to be confronted with problems that are unsolvable because of them  Conceptual blocks develop oevr time  Result largely from the thinking processes that problem solvers use when facing problems  Conceptual bloacks inhibit the range of solutions Percy Spencer's Magnetron – look into it more Spence Silver's Glue – look into it more The Four Type sof Conceptual Bloacks 1. Constancy – Veritcal thinking  Defining a problem in only one way without considering alternative views  We judge lack of constancy as untrustowrthy, peculiar, or airheaded.  Some promiconstancy is the primary motivator of human beavhior  Constancy can inhibit the solution of some kinds of problems  Conssistency sometimes drives out creativity  Vertical Thinking: Defining a problem in a single way and then pursuing that definintion wihtout deviation until a solution is reached ◦ Vertical thinking focuses on continuity. Lateral thinking focuses on discontinuity ◦ Vertical thinking chooses, lateral thinking changes ◦ Vertical thinking is concerned with instability ◦ Vertical thinking seraches for what is right, lateral thinking searches for what is different ◦ Vertical thinking is analytical, lateral thinking is provocative ◦ Vertical thinking is concerned with where an idea came from, lateral thinking is concerned with where the idea is going ◦ Vertical thinking moves in the most likely directions, lateral thinking moves in the least likely directions ◦ Vertical thinking develops an idea, lateral thinking discovers the idea ASingle Thinking Language  Thinking language: They think about a problem and its solution in terms of verbal language  Analytical problem solving reinforces this approach 2. Commitment  Once individuals become committed to a particular point of view, definition or solution, it is likely that they will follow through on that commitment  Two forms of commitment that produce conceptual bloacks are stereotyping based on past experiences and ignoring commonalities Stereotypng Based on Past Experiences  Major obstacle to innovative problem solving is that individuals tend to define present problems in terms of problems they have faced in the past  Current problems are usually seen as variations on some past situation, so the alternatives proposed to solve the current problem are ones that have proven successful in the past  Perceptual Stereotyping: Certain preconceptions formed on the basis of past experience detrmine how an individual defines a situation ◦ restricted by past experience ◦ helps organize problems on the basis of a limited amount of data and the need to consciously analyze every problem encountered is eliminated ◦ Prevents individuals from viewing a problem in novel ways  When individuals receive an initial cue regarding the definintion of a problem, all subseqyent problems are frequently framed in terms of the intial cue Ignoring Commonalities  Failure to idenify similarities among seemingly disparate pieces of data  Means that a person becomes committed to a particular point of view, to the fact that elements are different and becomes unable to make connections, identify themes, or perceive commonalities  The ability to find one definition or solution for two seemingly dissimilar problems is a characteristic of creative individuals  To test your own ability to see commonalities, answer the following two questions: ◦ 1. What are some common terms that apply to both the substance water and the filed of finance? ◦ 2. What is the name of the larger ship? 3. Compression  Looking too narrowly at a problem, screeing out too much relevant data, and making assumptions that inhibit problem solutions are commmon examples  Two especially cogent examples of compression are artificially constraining problems and not distinguishing figure from ground Artifical Constraints  Such constraints arise from hidden assumptions people make about problems they encounter  People assume that some problem definitions or alternative solutions are off limits, so they ignore them  Artificially constraining problems means that the problem definition and the possible alternatives are limited more than the problem requires  Creative problem solving requires that individuals become adept at recognizing their hidden assumptions and expanding the alternatives they consider – whether they imagine, improve, invest or incubate Separating Figure from Ground  It is the inability to constrain problems sufficiently so that they can be solved  Problems almost never come clearly specified, so problem solvers must determine what the real problem is  Must filter out inaccurate, misleading or irrelevant information in order to define the problem correctly and generate appropriate alternative solutions  The ina
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