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Handout: Problem Solving Questions

Handout: Problem Solving Questions
Exercises, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 14 Ratings :::: Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The following is a series of questions presented under a number of categories that help to analyse a given problem. The set of questions can be used in a handout for people who want to explore a given problem. The questions help delegates to consider different aspects of the problem and create a structured approach in asking the right questions.

You can also use this handout in problem solving exercises or as an extra training resource that can be made available to delegates while going through another exercise when addressing problems.

Instructions: For each question, consider the contrasting opposites and see where your problem lies. Then add more details as necessary to define the problem further in relation with the opposites mentioned in the question.

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Brainstorming Exercise: Dialectic Inquiry

Brainstorming Exercise: Dialectic Inquiry
Exercises, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 12 Ratings :::: Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sometimes it is important to scrutinise a plan to make sure it is valid. A common method used is known as Devil’s Advocate. This is basically an individual who has been given the role of an adverse critic. The aim is to look for problems, issues and anything that is inconsistent in a given plan.

The role is mainly negative and the danger is that the negativity can come to seriously undermine a potentially good idea. For this reason, an alternative method has been developed by Mason and Mitroff known as Dialectical Inquiry (Mason and Mitroff 1981).

In this exercise, delegates get to practice brainstorming using this particular method.

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Bullet Proofing Your Ideas: What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

Bullet Proofing Your Ideas: What Can Possibly Go Wrong?
Exercises, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Questioning Skills, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 17 Ratings :::: Monday, March 11, 2013

Most brainstorming sessions revolve around problem solving and coming up with new solutions. This is useful in generating ideas, though it does not provide many opportunities to find out what happens if certain actions are missed or if things go wrong.

This brainstorming technique helps groups to focus on evaluating the feasibility of solutions in practice. This is known as bullet proofing technique which is a form of negative brainstorming.

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Crisis Management: Brainstorm a Solution

Crisis Management: Brainstorm a Solution
Exercises, Team Building, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 88 Ratings :::: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This exercise combines crisis management and brainstorming. You can use it as a template for a series of exercises on problem solving using different methods depending on what you are covering in your course.

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Goal Setting Exercise: Challenge Assumptions

Goal Setting Exercise: Challenge Assumptions
Exercises, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Goal Setting, Questioning Skills, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 153 Ratings :::: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sometimes we take things for granted. We assume certain conditions are true and remain true until it is too late. This happens often in industries that evolve very quickly or markets that change rapidly due to social or political instabilities.

As an example, the mobile phone industry evolves quickly. The earlier leaders in the industry such as Nokia took their position for granted and focused primarily on adding Mega Pixels and rings tones generation after generation until a new competitor, namely Apple, entered the market with a much more superior product. The customers responded by dishing their old phones and getting the new feature-rich smart phones. Nokia lost the market and their shares crashed as much as 90% within several short years. The moral of the story is simple. If you assume and don’t question your assumptions, before long you are bound to make critical mistakes that could endanger your project, your market or even the very existence of your organisation.

In this exercise, delegates learn to systematically challenge assumptions. This exercise is ideal for a group of people that work for the same organisation.

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Time Management Exercise: Identify Time Wasters

Time Management Exercise: Identify Time Wasters
Leadership, Exercises, Team Building, Productivity, Decision Making, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 20 Ratings :::: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This exercise encourages delegates to think about workplace issues that could potentially reduce their productivity. It is an ideal exercise for delegates who work together as a team and aim to increase their team productivity. This exercise is simple in nature as it encourages people to think of the most important productivity issues from their own specific view. The power comes from habitual use of this exercise when productivity issues are addressed regularly, collectively and something is done about them.

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Brainstorming Exercise: The Shifting Technique

Brainstorming Exercise: The Shifting Technique
Exercises, Creativity, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 14 Ratings :::: Monday, October 29, 2012

In this exercise delegates learn about an effective brainstorming technique that aims to take advantage of personal and group creativity. In classic brainstorming sessions, some members might feel too shy or threatened to present their ideas or to challenge bad ideas. Another common problem is group think; the group can end up exploring a particular area for solutions and ignore all others by remaining too focused on the current ideas. The Shifting Technique helps you to systematically avoid these issues.

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Reverse Brainstorming and Negative Brainstorming

Reverse Brainstorming and Negative Brainstorming
Exercises, Team Building, Creativity, Decision Making, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 93 Ratings :::: Monday, July 30, 2012

You can extend classical brainstorming and double brainstorming with the following techniques to get more results:

  • Reverse brainstorming. With this technique participants are encouraged to look at the problem from an opposite angle. This is particularly useful in situations where it is difficult to identify solutions to a problem in a direct way.
  • Negative brainstorming. With this technique participants look at how things go wrong and identify problems to solutions.

To carry out these two types of brainstorming sessions, use the following exercise.

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Classical Brainstorming and Double Brainstorming

Classical Brainstorming and Double Brainstorming
Exercises, Team Building, Creativity, Decision Making, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 11 Ratings :::: Monday, June 18, 2012

Brainstorming is one of the most widely used techniques to generate ideas. If it is carried out systematically it can do wonders and can lead to innovation and a huge amount of creativity. Classical brainstorming involves a small group of people, a well–trained facilitator and a clear problem to explore.

Brainstorming is about two fundamental areas: idea generation and idea evolution. In a brainstorming session, three principles must be followed:

  • Aim for quantity. Quantity would lead to quality through the evolution of ideas.
  • Defer judgement. New ideas can be fragile. If all ideas are recorded and given a chance, they can grow legs and stand on their own feet. Otherwise they can be lost without been given a chance.
  • Go for associations. Even if an idea is not suitable, it can open up the search to reach another idea which can be much more useful. This is why no idea should be killed and judgement should be deferred. It allows you to maximise the search efficiency and lets you come across more novel ideas.

In this exercise, delegates get to practice classical and double brainstorming. Also see reverse brainstorming and negative brainstorming for other techniques.

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Management Exercise: 6 Levels of Delegation

Management Exercise: 6 Levels of Delegation
Leadership, Exercises, Team Building, Decision Making, Delegation Skills

Article Rating:::: 357 Ratings :::: Monday, April 9, 2012

Delegation is a great way to save time. Apart from saving time, delegation helps motivate your staff by giving them responsibility. Your team will benefit by participating in activities and the decision making process and therefore becomes more capable and autonomous over time. The organisation will benefit from having a pool of staff that can cover each other, take more responsibility and resolve issues on their own.

As a result, a manager must constantly think about delegating tasks to others not just to save time but also to help the team grow and become more capable.

Depending on how much control you want to have over a delegated task, you can choose from one of the six levels of delegation to control the outcome and also how much time you want to save.

In this exercise, participants will learn about these six levels and will participate in an activity to better understand them.

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