Problem Solving & Decision Making

Why is it that some people find it easy to solve tough problems with simple solutions while others find this feat nearly impossible? You’ve no doubt looked at solutions to problems and said, “I should have thought of that.” But you didn’t. The answer is not just creativity, although that certainly helps. Rather, the power to find these creative solutions lies in our ability to search for and find facts that relate to the situation, and put them together in ways that work. As an individual, facts and knowledge can only go so far. By tapping into the knowledge of others (staff, colleagues, family, or friends), anyone can expand the range of solutions available. This two-day workshop will teach participants how to do just that.

Workshop topics include ways to:

    • Increase awareness of problem solving steps and problem solving tools.
    • Distinguish root causes from symptoms to identify the right solution for the right problem.
    • Improve problem solving and decision making skills by identifying individual problem solving styles.
    • Think creatively and work towards creative solutions.
    • Recognize the top ten rules of good decision-making.

Introduction and Course Overview
The instructor will spend the first part of the day getting to know participants and discussing what will take place during the workshop. Students will also have an opportunity to identify their personal learning objectives.

What is Problem Solving?
To begin, participants will explore just what problem solving and decision making means. We will also look at different types of decisions, the difference between facts and information, and common decision making traps.

Problem Solving Styles
This session will explore the four types of problem solvers. Then, participants will work in small groups to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and how to use that knowledge to become better problem solvers.

Earthquake!
This hour long exercise will ask participants to imagine that they are in a crisis situation. It will give them a framework to solve the problem and make decisions.

The Problem Solving Model
During this session, participants will learn about a three-phase model that they can apply to most problems. They will also have an opportunity to apply the model to two situations.

Six Ways to Approach a Decision
Next, participants will learn about Edward DeBono’s six thinking hats, and they will practice using the hats during a problem solving discussion.

The Problem Solving Toolkit
This session will look at eleven basic problem solving tools and two advanced tools (the gradients of agreement and fishbone analysis). Then, participants will apply these tools to a case study in a large group discussion.

Thinking Outside the Box
Participants will discuss ways to encourage creative thinking, including brainstorming and the random word method.

Decision Making Case Study
The afternoon of Day Two will be spent working on problems with the Peerless Data Corp. Participants will work in small groups to solve five different problems, and will be rewarded based on the quality of their decisions.

Workshop Wrap-Up
At the end of the day, students will have an opportunity to ask questions and fill out an action plan.

Shalane BowleyProblem Solving & Decision Making