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This page contains typical challenges you may face when solving a problem, along with various tips that may be useful during the problem solving process.
Stuck in the problem solving process
- General tips for problem solving
- Problem statement word play
- Visual Connections for coming up with new solutions
- Invite someone
- Change the process
Not sure how to find and use relevant information resources
The problem solving work is getting messy and unorganized
Problems with bias / not being objective
Problems with how to judge problems and solutions
General tips for solving problems
- Switch from a "problem to fix" mindset to a "new opportunity to be discovered" mindset.
- Instead of focusing on symptoms, try to tell a story. The analysis tells us that...
- Play the devils advocate by taking the opposite position of what seems to be the current position. If there is a preferred hypothesis or solution try to advocate for the oppsosite.
- Go sleep on it.
- Look for exceptions.
- Do not follow Koios blindly. Look for new programs, methodologies, techniques etc.
- Concentrate the effort on what at the moment seems to the most plausible cause and the best solution.
- Talk to anyone. You might learn something or get new ideas or perspectives.
- Iterate the process. Go back and revisit previous steps.
- Remember there will be good, better and good enough solutions.
- Don't be sloppy. Do extensive and thorough research.
- Go to the library to find relevant books.
- Attend a relevant seminar or conference.
Problem statement word play
- Write a simple version of the problem statement (description of the problem).
- Draw a circle around the verb and enter other verbs that might replace it.
- Draw a circle around the object or outcome words, and generate possible substitutes.
- Repeat again for the subject.
Mix the words and see what you get. Choose the statements that best describe the problem.
Go somewhere, either alone or with some of the problem solvers or others who are affected by the problem. Taking the people outside of the context of the problem helps to get new ideas.
This can also be a virtual place. Participants can close their eyes while the facilitator talks them through a journey or story. Record the ideas.
Visual connections for coming up with new solutions
- Start with gathering 5 completely different objects/artifacts or use your environment to look at.
- What do you see? What do you feel? What memories does this recall? What might this feel, sound, taste or smell like?
- Write down a list of answers to the questions above or just write whatever enters your mind for each object you look at.
- Try to come up with solutions for the problem based on the list you created in the previous step.
Invite someone to the problem solving
A invitation form will come here.
You might also want to try peer review by inviting someone to read the information registered about the problem.
Brainstorming may be used in several of the stages of the problem solving process. It may be used for coming up with new problems, to decide problem statements, to come up with sub problems and to find causes and solutions.
How to do a brainstorming session
- A warm-up session, to expose novice participants to the criticism-free environment.
- The facilitator presents the problem and gives a further explanation if needed.
- The facilitator asks the brainstorming group for their ideas.
- If no ideas are forthcoming, the facilitator suggests a lead to encourage creativity.
- All participants present their ideas, and the idea collector records them.
- To ensure clarity, participants may elaborate on their ideas.
- When time is up, the facilitator organizes the ideas based on the topic goal and encourages discussion.
- Ideas are categorized.
- The whole list is reviewed to ensure that everyone understands the ideas.
- Duplicate ideas and obviously infeasible solutions are removed.
- The facilitator thanks all participants and gives each a token of appreciation.
List taken from brainstorming at Wikipedia.
Change the process
Changing the process can be an effective way to come up with new solutions. Koios has a fairly fixed process and this will affect the type of solutions you arrive at.
Some examples of how you can change the process:
- Find a different process framework for solving social problems. Then later on review the differences of information and knowledge.
- Change or set a deadline for the project.
- Have someone else (half of your team perhaps?) start another challenge on Koios. Do not look at each other’s problem space until later.
- Change the mode of how you work (who, when, what and where)
- Change important elements of the process such as scope, problem definition, indicators etc.
- Change the makeup of the people involved in the process.
- Get a facilitator or assign someone to this role and have offline sessions as the main process. Let these meetings steer the process rather than the fixed Koios steps steering the process. Feed all the new information and insights back into Koios.
Assign a facilitator
Assigning a facilitator can make the process more clean and effective. Less noise will help the paticipants to be more focused on what is important.
The role of the facilitator is not to provide answers, but to serve as a guide to good thinking.
A facilitator is usually more relevant in large projects with many participants, but it may also be fruitful for your self to take such a role from time to time in order to take a few steps back to get an overview of the process. You may also facilitate an other person. In this case you may take on the role of a coach.
Responsibilities of the facilitator
- Make process-related decisions.
- Guide the process and see to that there is progress.
- Manage the problem solving group and recruite new participants.
- Make plans and assign tasks.
- Know Koios to provide tool support for the participants.
- Arrange meetings/brain storming sessions etc. (Might not be possible with a distributed group)
Important reminders for a facilitator
- The facilitator must be neutral. Only work on process, not on content.
- The facilitator must be flexible. Adapt the process to the situation.
- The facilitator must be organized and have a good overview.
- The facilitator must be sensitive to the needs of the participants. Be aware of group dynamics.
How to gather information
- Collect all the information you can on this situation; enviornment, people, issues etc.
- Collect pictures, illustrations, documents, do individual consultations, focus groups, polls, participant observation recordings, questionnaire surveys, structured, semi-structured or unstructured interviews.
- Bookmark relevant webpages in your web-browser.
- Find reports, historical and statistical records, policy documents, previous studies, interviews.
- You may also organize a search conference to collect more information. See also Search Conference Method for Participative Planning, or a speak out.
- If possible conduct group sessions to talk and learn about the problem.
- Gather stakeholders to get information. The Hexagon method may be used for a workshop.
- Gather different and complementary networks of people.
How to use and build on the information you have found
- Use Thinking maps or diagrams to get an overview of the things you have found.
- Systems map may be used. Blobs containing blobs showing structure.
- You might use a mindmap or spray map to organize your thoughts and ideas.
- You might use Affinity diagramming which can also be used collectivily and also as part of a branstorming session.
- Look for common themes.
- Use different perspectives. Try view the information as a scientist, a sociologist, a psychologist etc.
- View the information from different stakeholders viewpoints.
- Internal - external views. Top down - bottom up views.
- Investiagate further by themes such as biological/physical environment, organizations, infrastructure, legal, policy and political institutions, economic conditions and markets, social and cultural conditions.
- Think about the information in layers. High level - low level views.
- External view: Nature, State and government, regulations, complience, law, regulations, politics, welfare, natural resources, geology, climate, energy, sivil rights, trade.
- Organizational view: Management, business, finance, hierarchies, collaboration, competative environment, processes, reward system, norms, written and unwritten rules, education, art.
- Interpersonal view: Culture and society, community, relationsal skills, social, roles, diversity, values, moral, ethics, faith, discretion, privacy, discrimination, trends,language.
- Individual view: Psycology, How individuals think, identity, beliefs and assumptions, spirituality, motivations, health, cognition, feelings, attitudes, biology.
Involving stakeholders is usually the best way to build knowledge about the problem. However involving stakeholders can have pros and cons at particular times.
Things to think about when involving stakeholders
- Some stakeholders, especially leaders, may have little time. Make sure you do not exhaust the stakeholder as a resource.
- Plan your meeting with stakeholers well.
- Beware that involving some stakeholders too much can lead to bias and polarization when other stakeholders do not feel they are included just as much.
- Involving stakeholders too early can reduce the stakeholders perception of your legitimacy. In early phases of the problem solving you will be wandering in all directions to learn about the problem. This can be confusing and seem chaotic for the stakeholder and you might be seen as a person not knowing what you are doing.
Dealing with bias
Bias is inevitable in social problem solving. This is what you can do to mitigate the effects of bias:
- Identify all underlying assumptions.
- Make sure to use multiple sources of information.
- Document what is done and do not hide information.
- Make sure you have identified all formal and informal stakeholders.
- Address all relevant professional and ethical considerations.
Ethics and responsibility
Koios has a utilitarianistic view on problem solving. (Maximizing happiness and reducing suffering)
This means that Koios is designed to produce solutions that maximize the aggregate welfare of individuals.
Solving problems is about tolerating, connecting, learning, living, communicating, loving, relating, balancing, respecting, clarifying, discussing, caring.
Solving problems requires you to take a holistic approach carefully considering all aspects
- Aesthetics in the pursuit of beauty, cultural values, the arts and humanities, for the enrichment of our inner lives.
- Economics in the just use of resources and in the development of resources, integrated yet just for indigenous groups.
- Education in regard to the development of evolutionary competence and-the design of just use of systems for current and future generations.
- Ethics in regard to self-realization and integrity on persons and social levels in all dealings with others.
- Governance to encourage self-determination, peace development, and global cooperation.
- Science to provide a better understanding of conscious evolution, the evolution of society and the promotion of human and social betterment.
- Social action in our activities of cooperation and collaboration.
- Technology in the service of the design of just systems for the-improvement of the quality of life for human beings, and for life forms and habitats to ensure preservation and coevolution on the planet.
- and Wellness for physical, mental, and spiritual health of individuals, groups and communities.
You the Koios problem solver has responsibilities, to stakeholders of the problem situation, possible customers and clients, the self, the profession, the public interest, fairness, equity, law, justice, efficiency, effectiveness, and the practice itself. Who is to define what is good? Whose values or goals should be pursued? What is the right thing to do? Who or what is ultimately to be served?