Friday, June 12, 2009

Problem Solving

Nature of the problem


Common characteristics are:

  • Defined boundaries
  • Very specific in an area of knowledge
  • Easy to recognize the solution
  • Few exogenous factors

Ex. Develop a faster microprocessor


Common characteristics are:

  • Undefined boundaries
  • Broad area of knowledge
  • No single solution
  • Results are difficult to measure
  • Many exogenous factors

Ex. Develop a new sales campaign



An Exogenous factor is what is outside of us.

Very rarely can we control the exogenous factors. More often than not we can control which exogenous factors we are affected by, by changing our endogenous factors.

Ex. a problematic investor, instead of trying to fix this exogenous factor, it can be more productive change it, looking for a different investor or a different way to finance your operations.


An Endogenous factor is all that is inside of us.

This is where our power lies.


Divide your problem into smaller pieces, we are best a taking several small steps, instead of a giant leap. Giant leaps can be a morale boost for the entire staff, however they are extremely inefficient and there are many other ways to achieve the same appearance without the inefficiency.

Ex. Instead of taking on the problem of poor sales, divide it into small pieces, find where the problem is, and attack the problem of poor market knowledge of your product.

Visual Maps

Visual maps are cool, not only that, but they help to understand the problem.

There are some things to avoid when making a visual map:

  • Information overload
  • Complexity
  • Redundancies
  • Mixing an action plan with a problem plan
  • Not contributing anything new

A good Visual map will help to make the problem tangible.

The right team

Creativity, expertise, experience, teamwork, imagination are some of the skills to look at your problem solving team.

Every man has their place, so make sure the management is looking at the big picture while the rest of the team focuses in the details.


If you can't measure, you can't manage. Throughout your process always keep in mind the importance of having a feedback system, so you'll know if the solution is working or not. A good feedback system can separate all the variables and the steps of the solution.


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