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The Basic Problem Solving Model.

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There are many approaches to problem solving, depending on the nature of the problem and the people involved in the problem. The more traditional, rational approach is typically used and involves, eg, clarifying description of the problem, analyzing causes, identifying alternatives, assessing each alternative, choosing one, implementing it, and evaluating whether the problem was solved or not. Another, more state-of-the-art approach is appreciative inquiry. That approach asserts that "problems" are often the result of our own perspectives on a phenomena, eg, if we look at it as a "problem," then it will become one and we'll probably get very stuck on the "problem." Appreciative inquiry includes identification of our best times about the situation in the past, wishing and thinking about what worked best then, visioning what we want in the future, and building from our strengths to work toward our vision. I. The Basic Problem Solving Model A. A. Recognizing and defining the problem should include: 1. Recognizing there is a problem 2. Information collection: Identifying the information needed to understand the problem; collecting information from multiple souces; identifying missing pieces of information. 3. 3. Information sorting: Distinguishing between information relevant to understanding and defining the problem irrelevant or tangential information; distinguishing between viewpoints/opinions and facts; Identifying the biases and assumptions of each viewpoint. 4. Diagnosing the problem: identifying the discrepancy between actual and desired performance; understanding the causes and effects of the problem; understanding the components of the problem and related problems B. B. Generating alternative solutions should include: 1. 1. ...read more.


Phase 5: Action The planned activity occurs. This phase may involve the delegation of authority to one or two people to manage the planned activity. These people are then responsible to monitor the day-to-day activities and problems, to make adjustments as necessary, and to report progress to the planning group. Phase 6: Assessment and Monitoring of Effects The assessment of effects of the planned activity are reported back to the people, both during and following the time of the planned activity. Shapes Exercise Number of people: 5 to 6 in a small group Minimum time: 30 to 45 minutes Materials: thirty 3 x 5 cards with situation statements on them, felt pens, newsprint Setting: space for small group divisions Purpose This exercise helps members to develop a better awareness of the phases of problem solving in a community or within a group. It can help members outline phases of an action plan. The Shapes exercise stimulates communication among members and facilitates group bonding. It also gives members an opportunity to practice consensus decision-making. Process 1. Leader introduces the overall Shapes Model and explains the six phases. (Refer to Shapes Model) 2. Members break into small groups (5 to 6 people). 3. Each small group selects a chairperson. 4. Each group then divides the newsprint into six sections and numbers each section to represent each of the six phases. Do not write in phases. 5. ...read more.


Requirements or conditions imposed that apply to the solution should be listed under the situation dimension. Targets are always more general than the proposed solution, since the same target may be achieved by different proposals. * The Proposed Plan Dimension. Specific action proposals and steps aimed at changing the current situation and solving the problem are listed. Who will do what when becomes the focus of this part of the model. See Table 3 for some of the common conditions, situations, expressions and terms that fit into the three dimensions. Putting Thought Into Action Once the group has chosen the most desired solution, the next step is to list sequenced action steps that will lead to the accomplishment of the goal. This phase can be the most frustrating. The plan should specify who does what at what time. In developing a plan, the group might consider some of the following questions: 1. Does the plan specify sequenced tasks which must be completed if the goal is to be reached? 2. Does the action plan identify clearly who does what and when? 3. Are all the needed resources for completing each of the tasks clearly identified? 4. Does the action plan, when relevant, include times for getting the required authorization from those in authority and/or from constituents? 5. Does the plan clearly assign responsibilities for carrying out each of the tasks, and then provide a means of coordinating the process? 6. Does the plan define the roles and responsibilities of all persons involved? 7. Does the plan provide for evaluation and revision if needed at some future date? ...read more.

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