Problem Solving and Decision Making by sofiaie

VIEWS: 102 PAGES: 59

									Problem Solving and
Decision Making
   Problem solving involves making a series of
       deciding that something is wrong,
       deciding what the problem is, and
       deciding how to solve it.
   Successful problem solving depends on good
       Decision: A choice from among available
   Much of the supervisor’s job is making decisions.
       In many cases, decisions are made without giving any
        thought to the process of deciding.
           Supervisors will automatically decide something
               because it feels right or
               because a decision has been made on a similar issue in the past.
           Decision making can be improved by understanding how the
            decision-making process works in theory and in practice.
Rational Model

   The rational model of decision making
       a. identify the problem
       b. identify the alternative solutions
       c. gather and organize the facts
       d. evaluate the alternatives
       e. select and implement the best alternative
       f. get feedback and take corrective action.
   The importance of understanding and using a
    model is that the decision will be the result of
    facts and analysis rather than of opinions and
   Identification of the real problem is extremely
   If the wrong cause and solution for that cause
    is selected, the problem will still be there.
   Deming says that most problems are
    unknown or unknowable.
   There are two basic types of problems:
       simple, or acute and
       long-standing, or chronic, problems.
   Simple problems occur suddenly, and the cause of
    the problem may be obvious.
       An example is when the electricity goes off because a fuse
        is blown.
   The chronic, or recurring, problem is usually more
    complex, and it is difficult to determine the causes
    and solutions.
       This type of problem can benefit from the conscious use of
        a problem-solving or decision-making model.
Bounded rationality

   Choosing an alternative that meets minimum
    standards of acceptability.
       Solutions that meet minimum standards will likely
        result in a return of the problem, since there is no
        margin of safety that will allow for slight changes
        and desirable outcomes.
Recency Syndrome

   The tendency to most easily remember
    events that have occurred recently.
       To test this concept, try to remember what
        happened yesterday.
       Now try to remember eight or ten days ago with
        the same kind of detail.

   Rigid opinions about categories of people.
   Supervisors often have neither the time nor
    the desire to follow all these steps to make a
    good decision.
       They may have trouble thinking of all the
        alternatives or
       gathering all the facts they need.

   Given the human and organizational limitations,
    supervisors tend to make compromises most of the
   If the supervisor is aware of the kinds of
    compromises people make, he or she is more likely
    to be aware when using them.
    Some kinds of compromises are useful in some
    situations, others are to be avoided as much as
Reasons for compromises

   Sitnplicity.
       Usually what we do is think over our experiences
        and consider some of the ways similar problems
        have been handled in the past.
           The downside of this approach is that it tends to bypass
            new and innovative solutions that may deliver better
Bounded rationality

   When it seems impossible or unreasonable to find
    the best alternative in the universe, decision makers
    settle for an alternative they consider enough .
       The process is also known as bounded rationality, that is,
        the decision maker places limits, or bounds, on the rational
        model of decision making.
       The decision maker considers alternatives only until he or
        she finds one that meets his or her minimum criteria
Subjective rationality

   This considers alternatives that are the result
    of intuition and instincts, rather than impartial
       Even when the process for arriving at the decision
        otherwise rational, the numbers used in the
        process may be subjective.
       As a result, they may be less than completely

   People tend to favor solutions that they
    believe they can justify to others.
Personal perspective

   People may assume that everyone sees
    things the way they do.
       They think if something is clear to them it is also
        clear to everyone else.
       Decision makers must find out what other people
        are thinking and take those views into account.

   Rigid opinions about categories of people distort the
    truth that people offer a rich variety of individual
    strengths and viewpoints.
       The cure for stereotyping is not to assume that everyone is
       The supervisor should be aware of what his or her
        stereotypes about people and situations are.
       In making a decision, the supervisor should consider
        whether those stereotypes truly describe the situation at
Consider the Consequences

   When the consequences of a decision are great, the
    supervisor should spend more time on the decision.
       He or she should try to follow the rational model of decision
        making, collecting information and including as many
        alternatives as possible.
   When the consequences are slight, the supervisor
    should limit the time and money spent in identifying
    and evaluating alternatives.
Respond quickly in a crisis

   In a crisis, the supervisor should quickly
    select the course of action that seems best

       This is an application of satisficing.

   Rather than waiting to evaluate other
    alternatives, the supervisor should begin
    implementing the solution and interpreting
    feedback to see whether the solution is
   Supervisors should be careful in identifying
    crisis situations.
       Sometimes it is easy to define more and more
        situations as a crisis or pseudo crisis using crisis
        decision-making methods.
Inform the manager

   The supervisor’s boss doesn’t want to hear about
    every minor decision, but the boss does need to
    know what is happening in the department.
       The supervisor should inform the boss about major
           These would include decisions affecting
               the department,
               meeting objectives,
               responses to crises, and
               any decision that might be controversial.
   When the boss needs to know about a decision, it’s
    usually smart to discuss the problem before
    reaching and announcing the decision.
       The boss may have some input to the decision-making
        process that may modify the supervisor’s decision.
       In a crisis, the supervisor may not have time to consult with
        his or her boss and has to settle for discussing the decision
        as soon as possible afterward.
Be decisive yet flexible

   Sometimes it is difficult to say which alternative
    solution is best.
       Perhaps none of the choices looks good enough.
           In this case, it may be difficult to move beyond studying the
            alternatives to selection and implementation.
   However, avoiding a decision is just another way to
    decide to do nothing.
       Being decisive means reaching a decision within a
        reasonable amount of time.
           The supervisor should pick the best alternative or at least an
            acceptable one, and then focus on implementing it.
   A decisive supervisor clears his or her desk
    of routine matters when a problem arises.

       The supervisor
           refers the question or problem to the proper people,
            delegates appropriately, and
           keeps work moving.
   He or she takes complete responsibility for
    getting the facts needed.
   A decisive supervisor keeps his or her employees
    informed of what they are expected to do and how
    they are progressing relative to their objectives.
   Being decisive should not mean that a supervisor is
    blind to signs of a mistake.
   If the feedback indicates the solution is not working,
    the supervisor must be flexible and try another
Avoid decision-making traps

   Avoid making a major issue out of each
       Good planning can avert many crises, and life-
        and-death issues are not the usual stuff of the
        supervisor’s job.
       Put each issue into perspective so that
        alternatives can be evaluated and an appropriate
        amount of time can be devoted to finding the
   Avoid inappropriate responses to failure.
       Acknowledge mistakes, but do not dwell and
        agonize over them.
           It is more important to learn whatever lesson the mistake
            can teach, and then move on.
   Remember to draw on easily available
       Have some of the alternatives been tried before?
       If so, what was the outcome?
       Also consult with other members of the
        organization or with outside experts.
   Beware of promising too much.
       Don’t make promises you can’t keep to your
        employees or your boss.
Probability Theory

    A body of techniques for comparing the
     consequences of possible decisions in a risk
Decision Tree

   A graph that helps in decision making by
    showing the value of expected outcomes of
    decisions under varying circumstances.
   Decision trees can be used to present a
    variety of conditions to help familiarize others
    who are involved in the decision-making
Decision-making Software

   A computer program that leads the user
    through the steps of the formal decision-
    making process.
       Software programs can construct the tree diagram
        and other decision-making tools, such as matrices
        that consider multiple factors.
   The decision tree is a graph or picture of all
    alternatives under consideration.
       Decision-making benefits from a logical process that will
        present alternatives in a format that displays the
        alternatives and consequences of selecting each of the
        possible alternatives.
           It is useful to the supervisor because it can show relationships
            and potential outcomes of each step of the decision-making
            process, and allows mathematical calculations by including
            probability factors or risk involved in each decision.
   In constructing the decision tree, the consequences
    for each alternative are considered.
   The decision tree can also be used to inform and
    communicate with the supervisor’s boss.
       A decision can be selected with a fair amount of certainty.
       However, with the decision tree, if the selected alternative
        not working as anticipated, another alternative has already
        been considered with its consequences.

   The failure to think independently and
    realistically as a group because of the desire
    to enjoy consensus and closeness.
Symptoms of Groupthink

   An illusion of being invulnerable
   Defending the group’s position against any objections
   A view that the group is clearly moral--”the good guys”
   Stereotyped views of opponents
   Pressure against group members who disagree
   Self-censorship, that is, not allowing oneself to disagree.
   An illusion that everyone agrees (because no one states an
    opposing view)
   Self-appointed “mindguards”--people who urge other group
    members to go along with the group.
   Some organizations allow or expect
    supervisors to work with others in arriving at
    a decision
       Supervisors might encourage employees to come
        up with a solution themselves.
Advantages of Group Decision
   Group members can contribute more ideas for
    alternatives than an individual working alone.
   The group will have a broader perspective since the
    experience of the group is broader than an
    individual’s experience.
   People involved in the decision will better
    understand an alternative selected and also be
    more likely to support the decision.
   Involvement by employees in decision
    making provides an opportunity for improving
    morale and employee self-esteem.
       Recognition of the contributions of groups is a
        powerful motivator.
Disadvantages of Group Decision
   Group decision making is slower than
    individual decision making.
   There is an opportunity cost to the
    organization when employees spend time in
    meetings rather than producing or selling.
   If one person dominates the decision-making
    process, the value of multiple inputs is lost.

   An idea-generating process in which group
    members state their ideas, a member of a
    group records them, and anyone may
    comment on the ideas until the process is
   Brainstorming is the process of coming up
    with as many ideas as possible.
       It may be structured, that is, each person takes a
        turn suggesting an idea.
       An unstructured session calls for individuals
        calling out whatever comes to mind. In the use of
        either method, no value judgments should be
        made about the suggestions.
   A brainstorming session can be held for
    generating ideas about problems to be
    solved, causes for identified problems, and
    alternative solutions for the problem.
        Individuals with knowledge about the issue
        should be included, although an “outsider” may
        also be useful.
           This person will help clarify and question why
            suggestions are or are not made.
   The supervisor is wise to involve employees in some
    but not all decisions.
       When a decision must be made quickly, like in an
        emergency, the supervisor should probably make it alone.
       When the supervisor needs to build support for a solution,
        such as in cutting costs or improving productivity, the group
        process is useful.
       When the consequences of a poor decision are great, the
        benefits of the group’s collective wisdom are worth the time
        and expense of gathering the input
   The supervisor may use the employees for
    input or they may be asked to make the
       Whenever supervisors ask for employee input,
        they should be sure they intend to use the
   Since a primary benefit of group decision making is
    the variety of opinions and expertise, a supervisor
    leading a decision-making meeting should be sure
    that everyone is participating.
       The supervisor should concentrate on listening and
        encouraging the input of others.
           If someone is not participating, the supervisor may have to ask
            for his or her opinion or thoughts on the matter at hand.
   Brainstorming is another way to generate ideas in a
       Group members state their ideas no matter how far-
        reaching they may seem.
       No one may criticize or even comment on an idea until the
        end of the process.
       All ideas are recorded on a flip chart or black (white) board.
       Evaluation or follow-up on ideas takes place after all ideas
        are suggested.
   Fifty to a hundred ideas may be generated in
    a single brainstorming session.
       The value of generating ideas in a free and open
        forum is to have group members build off each
        other’s ideas.
       Some ideas are likely to be only slightly different
        from others or a combination of previously
        mentioned ideas.

   The ability to bring about something
    imaginative or new.
   In decision making, creativity means being
    able to generate alternatives that are
    innovative or different from what what has
    been used in the past.
       Thinking outside the box
   There is a common notion that some people are
    creative and the rest of us are stuck with following
    routine and ordinary courses of action.
   A fundamental way to become more creative is to be
    open to your own ideas.
       think of as many alternatives as you can
       jot them down
       don’t evaluate them until after you have finished the list.
Five Step Technique for Generating
Creative Ideas
   Gather the raw materials by learning about the
    problem and by developing your general knowledge.
     Constantly expand your experience.

   Work over those materials in your mind
       As you think of partial ideas, jot them down so you can
        refer to them later.
       If you’re stuck on a problem, try leaving it for a while.
   Incubate
       Let your subconscious do the work.
       Stimulate your imagination.
   Identify an idea.
       Ideas often pop into your head unexpectedly.
   Shape and develop the idea to make it practical
       Seek out constructive criticism.
   The most important step a supervisor can take to
    establish a work climate that encourages creative
    thinking is to show that he or she values creativity.
       When employees offer suggestions, the supervisor should
        listen attentively and look for the positive aspects of the
       Then the supervisor should attempt to implement the
        suggestions and give the employee credit for the idea.
           Failure should be acknowledged as a sign that people are
           Help employees see what can be learned from failures as well
            as from successes.
   Creating an environment that fosters creativity is not simply
    listening to alternative solutions when problems occur.
     The environment is developed daily and by all levels of the

     The supervisor can nurture a creative environment by the

        way he/she treats people and their ideas on an ongoing
     Respect for all employees and appreciation of daily

        contributions will create an environment where employees
        feel valued and are willing to think about the problems of the
   Often supervisors and employees have difficulty
    being creative because they are afraid their ideas
    will fail.
       Focus on learning from failures
   Another barrier to creativity is being overly busy.
       Creativity requires time to think.
   Isolation also interferes with creativity.
     Get i

To top