I’m sure we’ve all reached a point in a project or task and had the “OK, now what? I’ve recently taken up some carpentry projects as a functional hobby, and I have developed a great respect for the importance of advanced planning.
It’s frustrating to get to a crucial point in building or fixing something only to realize that you have to unscrew a support board that you already screwed in, have to drive back to the hardware store to get something that you didn’t think to get earlier, or have to completely start over.
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Although a group should attend to each step of the process, group leaders or other group members who facilitate problem solving should be cautious not to dogmatically follow each element of the process or force a group along.
Such a lack of flexibility could limit group member input and negatively affect the group’s cohesion and climate.“How can citizens report suspected ethical violations of city officials and how will such reports be processed and addressed?” As you can see, the problem question is more complex than the problem statement, since the group has moved on to more in-depth discussion of the problem during step 2. It is perfectly OK for a group member to question another person’s idea by asking something like “What do you mean? ” Discussions at this stage may reveal a need to return to previous steps to better define or more fully analyze a problem.Although the steps of problem solving and decision making that we will discuss next may seem obvious, we often don’t think to or choose not to use them.Instead, we start working on a problem and later realize we are lost and have to backtrack.Whereas the first step involved exploring the “what” related to the problem, this step focuses on the “why.” At this stage, group members can discuss the potential causes of the difficulty.Group members may also want to begin setting out an agenda or timeline for the group’s problem-solving process, looking forward to the other steps.This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.Normally, the author and publisher would be credited here.How did we come to know that the difficulty exists? Avoid wording in the problem statement or question that hints at potential solutions.A small group formed to investigate ethical violations of city officials could use the following problem statement: “Our state does not currently have a mechanism for citizens to report suspected ethical violations by city officials.” During this step a group should analyze the problem and the group’s relationship to the problem.