Thursday, February 18, 2021

Inferential Problem-Solving

Digital leaders and professionals today need to be in a continuous learning mode with inferential logic, interdisciplinary knowledge, strategic reasoning skills, challenge existing thoughts, standards, rules, seeking additional knowledge and experience, handle “complex problems or rewrite the rules of the competitive game" to overcome the challenge.

Problem-solving is about seeing a problem and actually finding a solution to that problem, not just the band-aid approach to fix the symptom. With “VUCA” reality, the problem-solving thought processes and practices will not be simple for many of today’s complex issues or vexing problems. Therefore, it’s important to figure out the logic behind the problem solving. 

Because trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem or fix it in the wrong way will waste time and resources, decrease productivity, and even worse, cause more problems later on. Until the underlying problem is addressed, the symptom or result will continue to return.

Logic is the ability for examining inference via analyzing, evaluating, and producing coherent argumentation: Many of today’s problems are complex, it might be a good idea to first split problems into different categories and to assess the relative importance of the different categories for them and what could be done about it. To frame the right problems, it’s important to listen to a wide range of opinions and multidimensional viewpoints in order to make sound judgments based on unbiased fact. An argument opens a new perspective, evokes paradoxical thinking, you don’t need to agree completely with the other side of viewpoint, but you can always gain empathy, insight, and new perspective to see things from the other angle.

In many cases, there are more than one way to solve problems. Make a deep analysis, take the identification of the facts and root cause and mold into a solution based on the objectives and other extenuating circumstances. Take a structural way to identify and prioritize alternative solutions, and test every assumption if possible. Evaluate which alternatives might work better than others based on reasoning, logic, calculation, and conscious weighing of expected outcomes, etc. Fact-finding and prototyping that cycling back through the process might be necessary so the best solution is found in overcoming the challenges. That is the realm of logical analysis within systems understanding in problem-solving.

Logic is perhaps the very clue hidden in varying circumstances and the abstract across disciplinary domains horizontally for systematic problem-solving: Many problems do exist because they are either ill-defined or the concept cannot be adequately captured contextually. Problems often do not exist in isolation, but as an interacting and interdependent system. Nonlinearity is an important ingredient in the systematic problem-solving formula because problem-solving based on linear logic or analytics only can sometimes cause more problems later on. The more complex the situation is, the more important it is to apply logic via multidimensional thought processes and cross disciplinary boundaries to see underneath the symptoms and dig into root causes of the problem.

The nonlinear problem solving logic comes through different characteristics such as hyper-diversity, volatility, ambiguity, unpredictability, and increased flux. Often, some critical bits and bytes of information are the missing pieces in innovative problem-solving. What exactly the problem is depends on perspectives of varying shareholders. Thus, ask for their feedback on what they believe the problem to be but also be prepared to hear something you might not like or agree with. In this way, you have better chances to see around corners without ignoring some pieces of important information, understand the problem with context, connect dots horizontally, identify the leverage points of the systems and then choose the decisive factors for effective problem-solving.

Logic enables us to dig underneath the surface or look uphill, and unpuzzle the myth of problem-solving vertically: The most important capability of the cognitive mind with strong logic is the willingness and ability to question the unknowns, identify problem areas, seek out knowledge, gain an in-depth understanding to get the heart of the matter, and dig into root causes. Besides macro and large-scale problems, there are also the intermediate and micro levels of problems. Either from top down or bottom up, lubricate the organizational hierarchy to streamline information flow and feedback-feed forward cycle for clarifying problem-solving logic and expediting problem-solving processes.

The assumption that there is a single cause to a "problem" in a complex adaptive system is unhelpful. You need to be looking for patterns rather than isolating causes. There are multiple, inter-related dynamics, you have to really dig beneath the superficial layer, see around the corner and transcend the interdisciplinary knowledge, to get to the real problem. The well-defined “CAUSE & EFFECT” relationships allow you to uncover the deeper causes, in order to make sound decisions and choose solutions and move forward.

With hyper connected and over-complex digital new normal, balance is a leverage for the problem-solving and gaining an in-depth understanding of economic and social systems, to overcome the common challenges and advance the human race. Digital leaders and professionals today need to be in a continuous learning mode with inferential logic, interdisciplinary knowledge, strategic reasoning skills, challenge existing thoughts, standards, rules, seeking additional knowledge and experience, handle “complex problems or rewrite the rules of the competitive game" to overcome the challenge.


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