Problem Solving Process In Management

In general, the situation is one not previously encountered, or where at least a specific solution from past experiences is not known.

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The purpose of this paper is to relate a model of the problem-solving process to a theory of personality type and temperaments in order to facilitate problem solving by focusing on important individual differences.

Specific techniques that can be used in the problem-solving/decision-making process to take advantage of these differences are also identified.

Most models of problem solving and decision making include at least four phases (e.g., Bransford & Stein, 1984; Dewey, 1933; Polya, 1971): 1) an Input phase in which a problem is perceived and an attempt is made to understand the situation or problem; 2) a Processing phase in which alternatives are generated and evaluated and a solution is selected; 3) an Output phase which includes planning for and implementing the solution; and 4) a Review phase in which the solution is evaluated and modifications are made, if necessary.

Most researchers describe the problem-solving/decision-making process as beginning with the perception of a gap and ending with the implementation and evaluation of a solution to fill that gap.

Recent research has identified a prescriptive model of problem solving, although there is less agreement as to appropriate techniques.

Separate research on personality and cognitive styles has identified important individual differences in how people approach and solve problems and make decisions.They will exhibit a tendency to develop new, original solutions rather than to use what has worked previously.Individuals with a thinking preference will tend to use logic and analysis during problem solving.This paper relates a model of the problem-solving process to Jung's theory of personality types (as measured by the MBTI) and identifies specific techniques to support individual differences.The recent transition to the information age has focused attention on the processes of problem solving and decision making and their improvement (e.g., Nickerson, Perkins, & Smith, 1985; Stice, 1987; Whimbey & Lochhead, 1982).That is, individuals and organizations must have a problem-solving process as well as specific techniques congruent with individual styles if they are to capitalize on these areas of current research.Mc Caulley (1987) attempted to do this by first focusing on individual differences in personality and then by presenting four steps for problem solving based on Jung's (1971) four mental processes (sensing, intuition, thinking, and feeling).By contrast, individuals with a feeling preference are more likely to consider values and feelings in the problem-solving process.They will tend to be subjective in their decision making and to consider how their decisions could affect other people.The steps in both problem solving and decision making are quite similar.In fact, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

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