BY: Muhammad Umar

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We are faced with a wide array of problem solving challenges everyday. Tasks span the range from easy to hard. They can also be straight forward and fast to extremely complex and time consuming. These challenges are also known as projects, objectives (or tasks). They come in all shapes and sizes.

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Here are just a few examples:
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Buying a car Doing a home project Reducing your electric bill Planning a great vacation Planning for an exciting future

.These 8 Problem Solving Steps are for doing projects and achieving objectives.

` ` ` ` ` Structuring a task can be challenging Structuring is to analyze what a blueprint is to build a house It is like a road map for a trip It focuses on one element at a time And allows us to compare and weigh one element against another .

talk with that person (or people) and get some advice on how to handle the problem. what did you do then to address it? ` Were you successful in your approach? ` What did you do right? ` What did you do wrong? Also ask: ` Do you know anyone who has had this problem before? If so.Have you encountered this type of task before? ` If so. book knowledge and help from others. what can you apply to do the task at hand? . ` Knowing what you know from past experiences.

By determining the desired results you can work backwards and determine the steps needed to get those results.` ` Visualizing the desired results helps you focus on what is needed to address your mission. Ask the following questions: ` ` ` ` ` What outcome do you want? Is this outcome realistic? Why? Why not? What steps (working backwards) can you take to get this result? .

To frame your mission you will need to consider the following: ` Investigation How much research will you have to do? Where will you find the information you need? x Will you use the Internet? x Will you use books? x Will you need expert help? ` Financial How much will it cost? ` Time How much time will it take? ` Resources How much help from others will you need? x Who? x When? x How much assistance? Will you need other materials or equipment? x What will you need? x How much will the material/equipment cost? x When will you need it? ` Consequences What are the consequences? Are the consequences large or small? .Framing means defining what you need to do.

Next. determine the resources you will need to investigate your task to collect facts and data. .

Review the good and the bad of each option. .Once you have collected the facts and data you can come up with several potential options.

` . Other times you have to do a comparison study.` After collecting and reviewing the facts and data and defining available options. Sometimes the solution is obvious. select a solution and implement it.

If it becomes obvious that you didn¶t make a good decision. Only after applying a solution you will know if the results are what you desired. The toughest part of changing any decision is the admission that we are human and make mistakes. rethink it and choose a different solution if possible. ³Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. Sometimes significant changes may be required.´ ~Albert Einstein . after implementing your solution you may need to modify it. Consequently.` ` ` You may require more than one attempt to get a good solution.

Ask yourself: ` What went right? ` What went wrong? ` What would you have done differently? ` ` Consider other ways you could have handled your task that would have given you similar or better results. You can study this information in the future for ideas if/when you encounter a similar task and then use the problem solving steps again. If this was a difficult task to do then consider writing it (and the solution) down on paper or in your computer. This experience is invaluable for future undertakings.` Each time you use these problem solving steps to do a new project or objective you gain more experience. . Think about the lessons you learned.

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will fully resolve the problem . not partially.The aim of the problem re-statement is to ` ` ` Broaden our perspective of the problem Help us identifying the central issues and alternative solutions Increase the chance that the outcome of our analysis procedures.

Initial Statement: How to make employees come to work on time? Why? Because if they are late they are not very productive .

Re-Statement: How can we make employees more productive? Why? Because they can meet deadline on time .

Re-Statement: How do employees meet deadlines on time? Why? Because if we are late the customer becomes dissatisfied .

Re-Statement: How can we satisfy our Clients? Why? Because if the clients are angry we cannot retain them . . The Principle Problem: How to meet deadlines and satisfy our clients? . .

Vilfredo Pareto discovered that approximately 80 percent of the wealth in European countries was controlled by approximately 20 percent of the population. This was later known as the Pareto Principle. . or the 80 20 rule.` ` ` The Pareto Principle is a powerful tool that can be used to save time and money when applied correctly to tasks. His name was Vilfredo Pareto. In the late 1800s an Italian economist was studying the distribution of wealth in European countries. He discovered a predictable imbalance in the distribution of wealth.

Eighty percent of the music listened to will be created by twenty percent of the artists. However they can be made without a great deal of research. and serve as useful guidelines when making general assumptions on how things work. These statements are clearly not exact. This is using Pareto logic. Eighty percent of the computers will be built by twenty percent of the manufacturers. ` ` ` ` ` ` . Eighty percent of the people who fly will be travelling with twenty percent of the airlines.` The Pareto Principle is an observable natural phenomenon. It governs many scenarios in life in which 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the inputs. Here are some examples of the 80/20 rule: Eighty percent of the work done at a company will be done by twenty percent of the people.

. Where should you put your energies? ` When beginning any task first ask yourself: ³Where should I put most of my energies to give me 80% percent of the desired results?´ ` ` This insightful question will help you take a seemingly overwhelming task to something that begins to be manageable.` The beauty and power of the Pareto principal is that it can frequently be used to help you determine where to begin. Select the parts of the task that will give you the greatest benefit for your time invested.

´ ` It is also a great tool for individuals to use. Tom Hopkins a famous sales trainer calls it: ` ³One of the most magnificent clauses that have ever come into the selling profession. .` The Ben Franklin Balance Sheet is used by some top sales people to help clients make a yes or no decision.

´ Underneath it write all the arguments for the decision. the decision becomes obvious. especially when one of the sides clearly has more arguments listed. count the number of arguments for the decision on the left side of the paper.´ Underneath it write all the arguments against the decision. . When completed. Frequently.` ` To use the Ben Franklin Balance Sheet take a clean sheet of paper and draw a line down the center. On the right side of the paper write the word ³No. Then count the number of arguments against the decision on the right side of the paper. On the left side of the line near the top write the word ³Yes.

Usually decisions are made in a soup of jumbled feelings. facts and data. However. it can be equally powerful when used by an individual properly.` ` The Six Thinking Hats is a simple but powerful method for decision making and improving communication. . It is typically used in groups. negative and positive effects and alternatives.

It is also very simple to use. ³The biggest enemy of thinking is complexity. it becomes more enjoyable and more effective. for that leads to confusion. When thinking is clear and simple.´ Edward De Bono . This helps put each aspect of decision making into a nice little compartment.` Edward De Bono explains that the thinking hats are about looking at issues from different perspectives² one at a time. The Six Thinking Hats concept is very simple to understand.

. * The green hat is for thinking about alternatives. * The black hat is for looking at the negative effects of the decision.Each of the thinking hats is used as follows: * The white hat only looks at the facts and data of the decision. * The yellow hat is for looking at the positive effects of the decision. * The blue hat is for clarifying which kind of thinking is going on. * Under the red hat feelings are expressed about the issue.

It can even be used for decision making.` ` ` ` Brainstorming is used to generate a large number of creative ideas when problem solving and achieving objectives. After some 80 years Brainstorming techniques are now firmly ingrained in many corporate cultures. . Brainstorming was first introduced in a book named Applied Imagination written in the late 1930¶s by Alex Osborn. Osborne proposed that groups could double their creative thoughts by using brainstorming.

Don¶t judge any of your ideas at this time--no matter how crazy they may seem at first. For big problems or projects it may be done several times and over days. Later you can use the affinity diagram. The more the better. weeks or months. Just jot them down when they come to you. These ideas help stimulate other useful and practical ideas later on.` Brainstorming take from a few minutes to a few hours. to sort out your ideas. Your ideas can be captured if you have a pen and paper (or Post It Notes©) by the bed. ` ` Come up with as many ideas as possible. ` . Note: Many great ideas come to people at 3:00am in the morning when the subconscious is working with full force. Some of the craziest ideas are the best.

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