Perhaps the most misunderstood area in any organization is the understanding
and selection of a problem-solving methodology. It is misunderstood because
there are so many options to choose from and depending on whom you ask,
the answer of the best approach is quite different. However, all organizations
in the modern world must have a method—preferably standardized—across
their facilities whether local, national, or international.
What is a problem-solving methodology? Problem-solving methodology
is a strategy with specic steps that one would use to nd the problems that
are in the way to getting to one’s own goal. Another way of saying it is that
problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc methods, in an orderly
manner, for nding solutions to problems. Others may have different deni-
tions, for example, calling it a problem-solving cycle (Bransford and Stein 1993).
In this cycle, one will recognize the problem, dene the problem, develop a
strategy to x the problem, organize the knowledge of the problem cycle,
gure out the resources at the user’s disposal, monitor one’s progress, and
evaluate the solution for accuracy. Although called a cycle, one does not have
to do each step to x the problem. In fact, in some cases if the problem is
simple, not all steps may be necessary. However, the reason it is called a cycle
is that once one is completed with a problem, usually another will surface.
Blanchard-Fields (2007) looks at problem solving from one of two facets.
The rst is looking at those problems that only have one solution (like math/
engineering problems, or fact-based questions), which are grounded in
psychometric intelligence. The second is addressing socioemotional issues
that are unpredictable with answers that are constantly changing (like your
favorite color or what you should get someone for Christmas). To show the
diversity of problem-solving strategies, we provide the reader with a sample
of techniques that are available. By no means is this an exhaustive list.
• Abstraction: Solving the problem in a model of the system before
applying it to the real system
• Analogy: Using a solution that solves an analogous problem