Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Apply Multidimensional Thought Processes to Problem-Solving Scenario

Multidimensional thinking is important to understand, frame, and solve today’s multilayer, interdependent, and over-complex business problem and directly impacts the intellectual sophistication of problem-solving capability.

With the overwhelming growth of information and an unprecedented level of uncertainty, there is known unknown and unknown unknown. Many problems become so complex, fact-finding and prototyping are crucial steps in discovering premium solutions. Digital leaders and professionals must keep their minds open, enhance interdisciplinary understanding of the problem, and take the step-wise approach to solve them smoothly.

Apply critical thinking to problem-solving: Critical Thinking is an important skill to make logical reasoning for digging into the root causes of problems and understanding the problem from different perspectives by asking: What is the problem? Why? What seems to be the constraints? Which factors or aspects of the problem seem most critical? What are the enablers? Where is the weakest link or the strongest constraint? Can you apply the Theory of Constraints? Etc. Be skeptical about the conventional understanding of issues so that you examine everything before accepting it for the real truth or advising it to others. You think critically when you begin to focus and delineate the factors associated with the problem.

In the real world, problem-solving in the majority of organizations today is woefully inadequate, people lacking the real critical thinking usually never question what is exactly the problem because "it's the way things should be." Often, events and patterns are observed on the surface, and then the action is taken to fix the symptom, but that is too early. As a result, trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem will waste time and resources, increase anxiety, and reward mediocrity, even create more problems later on.

 It’s a strategic imperative to leverage critical thinking for determining why problems happened; how problems escalated; which areas of the organization were affected; as well as why the problem started. You will need to take a few steps back trying to get the real picture of what happened based on facts and figure out the best next move toward solving the problem smoothly.

Apply holistic thinking to problem-solving: The digital era upon us means information flow, hyper-connectivity, and interdependence. Holistic thinking concerns the whole system in question, enables understanding “patterns of change” which is important for dynamic problem-solving, and continues pondering: What is the problem? Is that the right problem? Has the problem been fixed permanently? Does the solution cause any side effects, or cause more serious issues later on? Who are the real problem-solvers? What are methodologies and practices to solve problems holistically (observable input-process-output result) of the whole? Etc.

The opposite of holistic thinking is silo thinking which is the root cause of many business problems today. Overly restrict boundary setting will cause silo thinking and create obstacles to effective problem-solving. The digital nature of hyper-connectivity and interdependence makes it inevitable to break down large problems into smaller pieces and solve them efficiently. Holistic thinking helps to understand the interdependence of issues, integrates diverse viewpoints into holistic perspectives without enlarging cognitive gaps and causing too many side effects, offers a better and more accurate understanding of the overall situation and problems, and hence, better defining the problems and subsequently solving them and in what sequence.

Apply Systems Thinking to problem-solving: Systems Thinking is about understanding the interconnectivity between parts and whole. Systematic problem-solvers should ask themselves and others: How are all of the components in the system related? What are the components? How do they affect (enable/constrain) each other? How strong is each individual effect? How to measure the outcome of problem-solving systematically. Etc. There is also a philosophical connection between wholeness and partness. "Partness" means all things are linked together in the cosmos through their interdependent relationships. Always remember that problems exist not in isolation, but as an interacting system of problems. A systematic problem solver is able to peel back the layers to discover the root cause by asking “WHYs,” or take other system analyses to discover the real cause and address it, as well as understand the interdependence of problems.

In today’s hyper-connected and interdependent business world, solving problems really matter could mean that there is the opportunity you can take care of a chain of problems, not just an individual problem. Systems Thinking provides insight into emergent issues, both the positive emergent issues required and the negative emergent issues that come about, particularly due to the combination of parts and the interactions within the system and between the system and its environment. For those who are trying to solve problems, they may find the problems evolving as they try different solutions. Systematic problem-solvers encompass the ability to address the systems, processes, emerging properties, and human elements to improve problem-solving effectiveness and maturity.

We are living in a complex world with continuous changes and disruptions, which makes it impossible to have complete knowledge and understanding of many issues. There is as much critical thinking, strategic thinking and system thinking that go into problem identification as well as solution discovery. Multidimensional thinking is important to understand, frame, and solve today’s multilayer, interdependent, and over-complex business problem and directly impacts the intellectual sophistication of problem-solving capability.


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