Appreciate the Complexities Involved
in Decision-Making & Problem Solving
- Develop evidence to support views
- Analyze situations carefully
- Discuss subjects in an organized way
- Predict the consequences of actions
- Weigh alternatives
- Generate and organize ideas
- Form and apply concepts
- Design systematic plans of action
A 5 Step Problem
- Specify the problem - a first step to
solving a problem is to identify it as specifically as possible. It involves
evaluating the present state and determining how it differs from the goal state.
- Analyze the problem - analyzing the problem involves learning as much as you
can about it. It may be necessary to look beyond the obvious, surface situation,
to stretch your imagination and reach for more creative options.
Formulate possible solutions - identify a wide range of possible solutions.
- seek other perspectives
- be flexible in your analysis
- consider various strands of impact
- brainstorm about all possibilities and implications
- research problems for which you lack complete information. Get help.
Evaluate possible solutions - weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each
solution. Think through each solution and consider how, when, and where you
could accomplish each. Consider both immediate and long-term results.
Mapping your solutions can be helpful at this stage.
Choose a solution - consider 3 factors:
- try to think of all possible solutions
- be creative
- consider similar problems and how you have solved them
- compatibility with your priorities • amount of risk
Keys to Problem Solving
- Think aloud - problem solving is a cognitive, mental process. Thinking aloud
or talking yourself through the steps of problem solving is useful. Hearing
yourself think can facilitate the process.
- Allow time for ideas to "gel" or consolidate. If time permits, give yourself
time for solutions to develop. Distance from a problem can allow you to clear
your mind and get a new perspective.
- Talk about the problem - describing the problem to someone else and talking
about it can often make a problem become more clear and defined so that a new
solution will surface.
Decision Making Strategies
Decision making is a process of identifying and evaluating choices. We make
numerous decisions every day and our decisions may range from routine, every-day
types of decisions to those decisions which will have far reaching impacts. The
types of decisions we make are routine, impulsive, and reasoned. Deciding what
to eat for breakfast is a routine decision; deciding to do or buy something at
the last minute is considered an impulsive decision; and choosing your college
major is, hopefully, a reasoned decision. College coursework often requires you
to make the latter, or reasoned decisions.
Decision making has much in common with problem solving. In problem solving you
identify and evaluate solution paths; in decision making you make a similar
discovery and evaluation of alternatives. The crux of decision making, then, is
the careful identification and evaluation of alternatives. As you weigh
alternatives, use the following suggestions:
- Consider the outcome each is likely to produce, in both the short term and the
- Compare alternatives based on how easily you can accomplish each.
possible negative side effects each may produce.
- Consider the risk involved in
- Be creative, original; don't eliminate alternatives because you have not heard
or used them before.
An important part of decision making is to predict both short-term and long-term
outcomes for each alternative. You may find that while an alternative seems most
desirable at the present, it may pose problems or complications over a longer
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