- By Ian Bradley
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Here are the final five tips
Tip VI Testing out Hypotheses
After creatively generating multiple hypotheses, it’s time to test them out. Developing, testing through data collection and then refining the hypothesis is the cornerstone of science and perhaps of our own central nervous system as first explained in Pribram’s TOTE system.
This process requires a certain toleration for ambiguity best described in the following note from McKinsey.
“When we think of problem solvers, many of us tend to picture a poised and brilliant engineer. We may imagine a mastermind who knows what she’s doing and approaches a problem with purpose. The reality, though, is that most good problem solving has a lot of trial and error; it’s more like the apparent randomness of rugby than the precision of linear programming.
Test requires above all requires an embrace of imperfection and a tolerance for ambiguity—and a gambler’s sense of probabilities.
Tip VII Cognitive Biases in Problem Solving:
Research into cognitive biases has been a hot topic, visit one of the pioneers at the decision Lab, https://thedecisionlab.com/biases
Here are some common ones:
#1 Confirming rather than testing-out:
Too often when faced with a problem, we seek to confirm what we know rather than to test-out a hypothesis.
#2 Defining a problem in a way that limits solutions
In his book, Conceptual Block Busting, James Adams talks about traps in defining the problem,
Specifically, he cautions us not to define the problem in a way that limits the solutions, be willing to remove even unconscious constraints
The more broadly a problem can be defined, the more room there is available for potential solutions.
#3 Functional fixedness
Gestalt solution: the variables to solve the problem are embedded in the actual problem, therefore the s olution rests in restating the problem. What impairs creative PS is what the gestalts psychologists call “ functional fixedness” involving the tendency to perceive objects only according to their common functions or to perceive objects only in the way in which they are presented to you,
The famous candle box problem( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candle_problem) illustrates this perfectly.
Tip VIII Emotionality surrounding Problem-Solving:
In real life problems come with emotional urgency, there is a demand, pressure, and competing interests. Under stress, our natural range of response options narrows as danger loom.
Therefore, recognize your own emotion, slow things down even to the point of taking up the challenge the next day.
Tip IX Who does the problem-solving?
#1 Leverage your team’s collective wisdom
Elicit feedback from your teammates in the form of additional ideas, intuitions, and perspectives. This is incredibly valuable, because you can now leverage their past experiences and pattern-matching skills, the information and context they have that you may have missed, and the creativity that they bring to the table.
Take things a step further by actively encouraging them to challenge or even disagree with your ideas. Asking team members about things that you might not have thought about.
#2 . Tap into collective intelligence and the wisdom of the crowd, from McKinsey
Chris Bradley, a coauthor of Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, observed that “it’s a mistake to think that on your team you have the smartest people in the room. They aren’t there. They’re invariably somewhere else.”
Here’s an interesting story from McKinsey’s report:
Nor do they need to be there if you can access their intelligence via other means. In an ever-changing world where conditions can evolve unpredictably, crowdsourcing invites the smartest people in the world to work with you. For example, in seeking a machine-learning algorithm to identify fish catch species and quantities on fishing boats, the Nature Conservancy (TNC) turned to Kaggle and offered a $150,000 prize for the best algorithm. This offer attracted 2,293 teams from all over the world. TNC now uses the winning algorithm to Rod Carnegie was CEO of Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA), he was concerned about the costs of unscheduled downtime with heavy trucks, particularly those requiring tire changes. He asked his management team who was best in the world at changing tires; their answer was Formula One, the auto racing competition. A team traveled to the United Kingdom to learn best practice for tire changes in racetrack pits and then implemented what it learned thousands of miles away, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The smartest team for this problem wasn’t in the mining industry at all.
Tip X Presenting your solutions vividly
Even the best problem-solving requires an audience to hear the solutions. McKinsey write about how an “show and tell” approach might be very effective persuasive tool.
“The show-and-tell mindset aims to bring decision makers into a problem-solving domain you have created. A team from the Nature Conservancy, for instance, was presenting a proposal asking a philanthropic foundation to support the restoration of oyster reefs. Before the presentation, the team brought 17 plastic buckets of water into the boardroom and placed them around the perimeter. When the foundation’s staff members entered the room, they immediately wanted to know what the buckets were for. The team explained that oyster-reef restoration massively improves water quality because each oyster filters 17 buckets of water per day. Fish stocks improve, and oysters can also be harvested to help make the economics work. The decision makers were brought into the problem-solving domain through show and tell. They approved the funding requested and loved the physical dimension of the problem they were part of solving
Rookie problem solvers show you their analytic process and mathematics to convince you that they are clever. That’s sometimes called APK, the anxious parade of knowledge. But seasoned problem solvers show you differently. The most elegant problem solving is that which makes the solution obvious. The late economist Herb Simon put it this way: “Solving a problem simply means representing it so as to make the solution transparent.”
Here’s to better problem-solving!