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Holistic Approach to Problem Solving1

Holistic Approach to Problem Solving1



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Published by drkvsubramanian
the paper highlights the importance of adopting a holistic approach to analyse and evolving a solution to a problem situation
the paper highlights the importance of adopting a holistic approach to analyse and evolving a solution to a problem situation

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: drkvsubramanian on Dec 25, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Holistic Approach to Problem SolvingWhat is holistic approach?
Organisations engage consultants to assist them in coming up with objective solutions,to their sporadic problems, of a non repetitive nature. Consultants have the advantage of being an outsider and hence disinterested in the outcome of their involvement, in arrivingat the problem solution. Consultants follow certain formal methodologies which have thepower of rigour and tested methods, can foresee problems before they occur and hencehave the power to preempt undesirable / unintended outcomes. One such method
Holistic approach to problem solving 
is discussed, to follow.In the holistic approach, the intervention starts with in a participatory mode. It isrecognised that in an external intervention scenario, with long term strategic implications,close participation of the client and all stake holders, during the vision and objectivesetting for the solution, strategy formulation phase, solution design and their feedback, isessential. This will substantially contribute to the quality of the output, acceptance of recommendations and speedier implementation. This approach will ensure ownership othe output, which will enhance level of participation, and active involvement of stakeholders, during the implementation. This will considerably reduce rework andrevisit to the course of action formulated, and address queries raised (if any), by theparticipants, during the implementation. Active stakeholder participation during the initialphases of the intervention, contributes to success and speed of implementation, highlevel of utilisation and reduced need for post implementation support.The systems (holistic) approach is a unique methodology, to meet the challenges of understanding and analysing a complex system. It is a practical and proven approach toanalyse a decision oriented inter disciplinary problem situation, and aiding theinvestigator in complex problem solving, under uncertainty. This methodology enablesinteraction with all stakeholders, who may be unstructured in their thinking and the wayin which they communicate, and also enables understanding and integration of technicaland behavioural aspects, which makes this approach holistic and unique.
Why holistic approach?
The systems approach is most suited to analyse and understand a complexmultidisciplinary problem, which does not have the advantages of a sound theoreticalbase of its own, tested body of knowledge and proven methodologies, to apply. Thesemostly fall under the category
societal problems,
which by their very nature are complex,as their boundary of influence is open. Societal and organizational problems areproblems of handling open systems, where the system boundary is amorphous,influencing variables are many, their nature of influence are contextual, making theproblem scenario highly complex to handle. The same is the reason why, we are notable to apply any conventional methodologies, that work in controlled environments(closed systems which could be controlled), to this problem scenario. The influence of human factor adds to the complexity. Complex / open systems also have a character, of being heterogeneous in terms of their stakeholders, problem context, their relationships,how they influence each other, the nature and impact of their influence and how theyrespond to external stimuli. This character of the problem situation, itself makes itamenable, only to define the approach to handle, and not the specifics of arriving at asolution, as these unfold as we move forward. This generic approach is ideally suited tohandle unstructured problems which are not benefited by a proven body of knowledge tohandle.The systems approach attempts to recognize the real world realities of an open system,subject to the influence of the happenings in the environment, and therefore poorlycontrolled. This framework provides a structured approach to study and comprehend anunstructured problem.The approach recognizes the existence of an underlying structure even in an apparentlyunstructured situation. This approach to a problem situation ensures the conceptual andstructural validity of solution to the problem. It enables a detailed solution arrived at byany means, to be tested against this template of the structure, and therefore its structuralvalidity. Typical examples of applicable problem situations in the Indian context would beto analyse unemployment, poverty, urban growth, and even in a mundane softwaredevelopment / e governance project. The value derived from this approach is its holism,identifying and capturing all relevant factors / variables, triggers the process of identifying their interrelationships, and thereby a focused debate, and an examination of 
apparent / conventional wisdom. The methodology provides an excellent platform for comprehension of the problem, discussion and debate on relevant variables and their interrelationships, and an effective communication tool, to interact with a heterogeneousaudience, typical of any open system.
A Typical illustration
An apparently straight case of a software development project for process automation inan organization (business / government) is illustrated below, to bring to surface, theunique value derived, through application of this approach, to unravel latent relationshipsand influencing factors, which could become critical at the time of its implementation,and usage during its life time.The project being illustrated is Computerisation of an examination Processing system,which is under the umbrella of the state government in a typical state. The problemstatement goes something like this.The state X conducts its 10
standard and other diploma / trade related courses’examination, by the Secondary Education Examination Board (SEEB). The no. of courses for which SEEB is responsible would be 25, spread over the whole 12 months ina year. 60 % of these examinations take place during the months of April June, andabout 90% of the candidates also appear during this period. The process of conductingthe examination involves receiving the list and other details of candidates appearing for the examination, from the various participating schools, in a prescribed format, by aparticular date for each exam, which has to be verified, corrected, entered in the systemin a predefined format and securely stored for retrieval. Currently the data from schoolsentered manually in predefined forms, reach the SEEB through the postal system. Thedata are entered by data entry operators engaged through an agent. They are notpermanently employed by the SEEB. The proposed computerized examination systeminvolves electronically collecting the data on students, getting all marks scored by eachstudent on each subject in the data base, deciding cut off/grace marks, depending onthe pass percentage and other factors, which could change for each course and exam.

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