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Toolkit: Solving a Work Problem
Law School Transparency
Introduction 00Back to Table of Contents
This report covers the basics of improving problem-solving and decision-making skills. It also includes a model for you to apply to work-related problems that can help you achieve resolution.
Problem Solving 01Back to Table of Contents
How you can improve on your problem solving and decision making skills.
HOW Problem Solving is based on the two middle letters in the type code – ST, SF, NT or NF, which are of great importance to focus, motivation and interests when solving problems and making decisions.
Logical & Ingenious - NT
”Are we using the right strategy?”
Problem Solving Strengths
- Strategic: Is good at handling ambiguous, complex tasks where it is necessary to conceive new strategies to address the challenges – a ”chess player”.
- Innovative: Likes to solve problems without prior experience to draw on. Is rarely “stuck” and finds a way forward. Thinks out many different options. Is innovative and creative.
- Long-term perspective: Contemplates the long-term consequences of the different solutions. Seeks an ambitious, visionary and future-proof solution that does not hinder flexibility.
- Analytical: Remains objective and analyses and criticises to ensure no mistakes can be found in the logic. Looks for patterns and connections. Applies theory and principles to the problem in order to bring clarity and a broader view.
- Independent: Works independently. Has a strong focus on own and others’ competence. Wants to be challenged mentally. Relies on own analysis.
Problem Solving Development Areas
- Be realistic: Examine the mundane factors which may be necessary to bring a solution to life, including human relations. Be careful not to overlook important details or facts. Match ambitions with what is possible in terms of time and resources.
- Use experience: Do not reinvent the wheel every time. Establish if there is experience to draw on. Initiate only necessary changes – do not change for the sake of change. Be careful not to overthink or complicate things unnecessarily. Accept that also routine tasks need to be done.
- Focus: Hold back generating possibilities until you have collected more facts about the task at hand. Do not ignore specific conditions and data which may argue for solutions that generate results in the short run.
- People focus: Involve the human aspects, the values, and how people will perceive the solution. Remember to show consideration for people in the process. A bad process can lead to a bad result – even though it may be a ”correct” result. Cooperate.
Z-Process Problem Solving 02Back to Table of Contents
Explains the Z-Process model of problem solving work problems in the context of Visual Type™
What is the Z-Process
It is a decision making framework based on the Jungian cognitive functions. The Z-Process focuses on working through the four ways people gather information and the four ways they make decisions. The Z-Process aligns with Visual Type™.The relative size of the boxes in Visual Type™ can be a good representation of how much time a person is likely to focus on the complementary questions and often skipping questions in the smallest boxes
Why Use The Z-Process
- Because you have an important decision to make
- You are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses
- To make sure and fully consider the problem from key perspectives
- You dont' want to overlook critical aspects to the situation
- You want to communicate to others of different perspectives
- You want to persuade others...
- that their perspective will be taken into account
- that you have really considered the problem
- to address the problem with your solution
How To Use The Z-Process
- Be clear about what problem or decision you are addressing
- Go through each of the 8 perspectives in order
- Answer any suggested questions that apply and are relevant to the situation
- Add more questions for each perspective that are specific to the problem
- It is more important when working through the process to get all the key questions than answer them immediately
- Get feedback from others
The more important the decision the more important it is the get feedback from others with different experiences or perspectives
- When collaborating with others it can be useful to show your Z-Process work.
Show them the work done to develop questions and get answers across all 8 perspectives. Four ways to gather information and four ways to make decisions.
Additional Resources on Decision MakingThere are a lot of great resources available on making better decisions using a variety of frameworks. The Z-Process framework is most valuable when you need to take into account personality conflicts or different ways of seeing a problem and making decisions.
- Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time by J. Edward Russo and Paul J.H. Schoemaker
The Z-ProcessDownload Double-Sided Reference Sheet for Print
Download Worksheets for Print
Look to the present and immediate needs and explore what is currently available
Experiencing the immediate context; noticing changes and opportunities for action; being drawn to act on the physical world; accumulating experiences; scanning for visible reactions and relevant data; recognizing “what is”
- What is the current situation?
- The key facts as they stand right now.
- What are the available resources?
- What are the current constraints?
- Who are the people?
- What are the current deadlines?
- What is the financial status?
- What are the time constraints?
- Does more information need to be gathered?
- Have the involved parties been interviewed?
- Has someone visited the location?
- What additional locations are available?
- What additional resources could be acquired?
Look to the past, traditions and what worked and focus on consistency
Reviewing past experiences; “what is” evoking “what was”; seeking detailed information and links to what is known; recalling stored impressions; accumulating data; recognizing the way things have always been
- What lead to the situation?
- What has been tried before?
- The history.
- What has lead to the current status?
- What has been done in the past?
- How has this problem been solved before?
- Why are we in this spot?
- Why did things happen as they did to end up here?
- What is repeatable?
- What precedents have been set?
- What is different than before?
- What was done well?
- What was done poorly?
Look to the new and different ideas and explore many possibilities
Interpreting situations and relationships; picking up meanings and interconnections; being drawn to change “what is” for “what could possibly be”; noticing what is not said and threads of meaning emerging across multiple contexts
- What outside solutions can be used?
- What new ideas might be applied?
- What are the patterns involved?
- Are there solutions from similar industries?
- Are there ideas from other areas of the company?
- Are there patterns to the situation challenges?
- What commonalities exist?
- What other areas might solutions come from?
- What can be changed?
- What are the business trends?
- What are the trends of the problem?
- What options are not being considered?
Look to how things connect, the future and predict possible outcomes
Foreseeing implications and likely effects without external data; realizing “what will be”; conceptualizing new ways of seeing things; envisioning transformations; getting an image of profound meaning or far-reaching symbols
- Where do we want to be?
- What fits the long-term strategy?
- Visualize the future.
- How do all the elements fit together?
- What solutions address all issues?
- Is it in line with our long term strategy?
- What are the long term implications of the problem?
- What new perspectives can be used?
- What does a long term solution look like?
- What is the essence of the problem?
- What is the core need that should be addressed?
- What is a one year solution?
- What is a five year solution?
Decide based on measurable goals and drive towards objectives
Segmenting and organizing for efficiency; systematizing; applying logic; structuring; checking for consequences; monitoring for standards or specifications being met; setting boundaries, guidelines, and parameters; deciding if something is working or not
- What is the measurable goal?
- What are the core action steps?
- Is there a step-by-step action plan?
- What do people have to do to reach the goal?
- What are the measurable objectives?
- What intermediate objectives need to be met?
- Which measurement is most important for the goal?
- What are the deadlines?
- How long do core actions take?
- When do tasks need to be started?
- What are the priorities of metrics and objectives?
- Who is responsible for each step?
- Which steps require more detail?
Decide based on logically correct or incorrect and evaluate the best approach
Analyzing; categorizing; evaluating according to principles and whether something fits the framework or model; figuring out the principles on which something works; checking for inconsistencies; clarifying definitions to get more precision
- Do the goals and steps logically fit the problem?
- Are there more efficient methods?
- Will the steps logically reach the measured goals?
- What are the probabilities of success and failure?
- What anomalies exist in the info and plan?
- How should the information be categorized?
- What parts of the plan are inefficient?
- Are all parts of the plan clearly understood?
- Which steps have the greatest risk?
- What other factors will logically impact results?
- What is the logical implication of the actions planned?
- What are the unforeseen consequences of the plan?
- What can be altered to make it more effective?
Decide based on people's needs and empathize with others
Connecting; considering others and the group—organizing to meet their needs and honor their values and feelings; maintaining societal, organizational, or group values; adjusting and accommodating others; deciding if something is appropriate or acceptable to others
- How will people react?
- What is the best way to explain it to them?
- What is the "Customer Experience"?
- How will people feel about this?
- Does it show that we care?
- Are others personal needs met?
- How do we avoid conflict/frustration?
- Are we using the right words?
- Are we providing immediate motivation?
- How will customers see this?
- How will employees sees this?
- How well do people understand the steps/process?
- Do the instructions cause confusion?
Decide based on ethically right or wrong and sync with individual values
Valuing; considering importance and worth; reviewing for incongruity; evaluating something based on the truths on which it is based; clarifying values to achieve accord; deciding if something is of significance and worth standing up for
- Will this build trust/loyalty/commitment?
- Does this align with company/brand values?
- Is it ethically right or wrong?
- Is this the right brand for the company?
- How do we engage intrinsic motivation?
- Will this be perceived positively in the future?
- Which of people's needs is being addressed?
- Will people feel they are contributing to something important?
- Will people feel the communication is authentic and truthful?
- Is the tone correct?
- Is this believable by customers and builds trust?
- Is this believable by employees and builds trust?
- How will this affect longer term connection and engagement?