Problem Solving Toolkit

Problem Solving Toolkit-61
When faced with a difficult decision, the problem solver, Bendor says, is better off turning to “a toolkit of heuristics that can be deployed separately and combined in various ways.” Bendor’s research shows we actually have more options when it comes to solving hard problems than “Muddling Through” suggested.“There aren’t just two fixed methods of decision making like Lindblom thought,” Bendor says, referring to disjointed incrementalism and the synoptic method.“This plan will get us from A to G,” explains Bendor. And then from G we’ll look around and think again and figure out how to get from G to R.

When faced with a difficult decision, the problem solver, Bendor says, is better off turning to “a toolkit of heuristics that can be deployed separately and combined in various ways.” Bendor’s research shows we actually have more options when it comes to solving hard problems than “Muddling Through” suggested.“There aren’t just two fixed methods of decision making like Lindblom thought,” Bendor says, referring to disjointed incrementalism and the synoptic method.“This plan will get us from A to G,” explains Bendor. And then from G we’ll look around and think again and figure out how to get from G to R.

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Using the “decomposition” concept, the team could break down the problem into more manageable pieces, while also using the idea of “imitation,” in which the team seeks to answer the question: How have other hospitals and clinics dealt with this issue?

In this case, the group breaks into subcommittees with each focusing on a different aspect of the problem.

To clarify, Bendor recommends an approach that uses basic building blocks.

Consider Duplo blocks, the little sibling to Lego building blocks.

“You can have a problem that’s too big for anybody’s mind, but if you break off a piece of it, it’s more manageable,” Bendor says.

Evaluating something that’s radically different from the status quo is bound to be fraught with error.Through “recombination,” the problem solvers design a solution.They implement on-site childcare borrowing from the exercise club model: Parents can drop off their children without an appointment.And, they introduce an automated notification system that lets patients decide when and how they would like to be reminded of their appointments.Lindblom’s crucial move in his 1959 essay “The Science of Muddling Through” and partner papers was to challenge the conventional prescription to problem solving.He introduced the idea of disjointed incrementalism, a package of heuristics that could be used to make small, incremental changes along the way.Disjointed incrementalism rang true for several generations of scholars and problem solvers.When faced with a tough problem, Bendor recommends choosing among these methods.Carve off part of a big problem and disperse its subcomponents to different groups.Bendor recommends including “multiple minds.” For example, the initial team would likely include a health administrator, a statistician, a doctor, and maybe a nurse.Later, team members might add a patient and a front desk receptionist to provide “cognitive diversity,” or wide-ranging perspectives.

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