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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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Problem Solving Exercise: If Time Was Not an Issue

Problem Solving Exercise: If Time Was Not an Issue
Exercises, Problem Solving, Goal Setting, Brainstorming, Resource Management

Article Rating:::: 6 Ratings :::: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When solving problems, it is sometimes easy to dismiss new ideas straight away by worrying about lack of resources or lack of time. A new idea is usually very fragile and cannot stand much scrutiny. Thinking of limitations can seriously stop you from coming up with novel ideas as you may kill them off before they have a chance to prosper.

To avoid this, a useful technique is to artificially eliminate these resource limitations and instead freely think about the long-term benefits of a given idea.

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Branding Exercise: What is My Company Like?

Branding Exercise: What is My Company Like?
Exercises, Problem Solving, Marketing, Brainstorming, Branding

Article Rating:::: 29 Ratings :::: Monday, March 18, 2013

Companies develop different cultures. It is important to know how the company is seen both internally and externally. Internally, it helps to bind the team and make everyone coordinate their efforts so they can produce consistent results. Externally, it leads to a solid brand where customers know exactly what the company represents and how the company’s products and services are provided. Customers can relate how a company conducts with their own specific character which in turn forms the brand identity.

In this exercise, delegates get to analyse their company on a number of categories and choose a specific style for each type. They can then analyse this data to see if this is indeed how they want the company to be seen and what may need to be changed.

It is ideal to run this exercise for delegates who are from the same organisation. If not, you may need to adjust the exercise accordingly by putting delegates from a company in the same group.

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Problem Solving Exercise: Look at the Problem from a Kid’s Point of View

Problem Solving Exercise: Look at the Problem from a Kid’s Point of View
Exercises, Problem Solving, Large Group, Marketing, Brainstorming

Article Rating:::: 15 Ratings :::: Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A particularly useful problem solving technique is to see a given problem from the point of view of a 10 year old. This view point usually helps to simplify both problems and solutions and as a result creates clarity. It is also a form of devil’s advocate analysis; if you cannot describe your products or problems to a 10 year old, you may need to work harder to increase your understanding of the problem.

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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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Creativity Exercise: Introducing Random Associations

Creativity Exercise: Introducing Random Associations
Exercises, Problem Solving, Brainstorming, Art, Creative Writing

Article Rating:::: 35 Ratings :::: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This is a template for a problem solving exercise that help generates a variety of solutions. The technique can be used in brainstorming or any creative thinking activity. It aims to bring randomness into the activity to stimulate thinking and inject non-obvious ideas into the process. You can also use random visual content. This can be particularly useful for brainstorming on design and artistic values of a product or service.

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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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Brainstorming Exercise: Brain Sketch

Brainstorming Exercise: Brain Sketch
Exercises, Problem Solving, Brainstorming, Art, Illustration

Article Rating:::: 34 Ratings :::: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In this exercise, delegates practice a visual brainstorming technique known as Brain Sketch (VanGundy 1988). The aim of this technique is to encourage visual solutions in isolation and also facilitates systematic exchange of ideas for creative problem solving.

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