PROBLEM SOLVING

Post 439 – by Gautam Shah

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Archimedes bath

Decision making involves some degree of problem solving. Alternatively it can be said that problem solving itself is a decision making process. In decision making some intuitive and alogical processes are operative, but problem solving occurs in a more realistic situation. Problem solving can be defined as an exercise of observing situations, vis a vis change causing elements.

A Bonobo at the San Diego Zoo fishing for termites

To solve a problem, it is necessary to separate it, as a unique entity or event. The issue is seen by severing its connections and dependencies with other entities and happenings. To make such a dissection, one has to define the level and intensity of various connections. This can be done by raising questions.

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Garden Maze at the St. Louis botanical gardens Wikipedia Image by Bachrach44

  • What is the problem?
  • Is the problem due to (external) multiple opinions or ideas?
  • Is the problem due to possible subjective assumptions?
  • Is the problem due to doubtful evidence?
  • Is the problem related implications and consequences of its outcome (decision)?

Perry Mason fictional detective Hopper Hale 1958 Paul Drake (William Hopper) and Della Street (Barbara Hale), with cop Frank Sully

We have read Sherlock Homes, Agatha Christie, Perry Mason and other characters raising-solving problems. Some problems are stated at the start, the book discovers ‘How the issue occurred’, and only in the last chapter or page one finds ‘Who caused the problem and How?’ In another scenario, one is first told ‘How and, Who causes the problem’, but one find later, ‘Why the happening was circumstantially caused?’ In still another setup, one is shown the event and the circumstances Which caused it. Here one is led to believe some false truth, or several conflicting possibilities. The author wants you to get involved in the process of investigations. The truth (at least in fiction) always is a surprise.

Honda Robot learning Step climbing

Assignments are simplest of problems as these are enforced exercises. There is a party which assigns the work and there is another, who undertakes the task. It is like a contract, where in goals or tasks are neatly defined, resources allocated, and delivery standards specified. Assignments deal with known things, but involve application of skill and management techniques. Students, employees (clerical) and jobbers (workers) are assigned such problems. It may lack a creative effort but productivity and sincerity are important factors.

Random Learning FD image

Difficulties occur for two reasons, either, we do not know, How to manage a situation, or feel that we lack the resources. Difficulties are subjective or objective. In the first case, the problem lies within the person. The person has the capacity, but is unable to accomplish a task. In the second case, the problem lies outside the person. A person may not have the talent, know how, motivation, resources etc. Difficulties, if subjective in nature, require training, exposure, motivation, etc. whereas objective ones need other physical inputs.

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Mystery is an unexplained deviation from what is expected. Our efforts are in finding out what has caused the deviation. But for a mystery to happen it is necessary to understand as to what is a deviation (size, scale, measure, range etc.) and what forms a standard. A deviation is not necessarily a bad or foul thing, it may be an advantage or even a gain. Mysterious problems get tackled as soon as deviation causing elements are identified.

And Then There Were None is a 1945 film adaptation of Agatha Christie_s best-selling mystery novel

Opportunities self presumed or situational offerings. A person or group defines a condition as the problem or a larger environment (social, political, academic) poses a specific situation worthy of a rethink. The specific situation is looked upon as consisting of opportunities. Evaluation of opportunities in terms of the potential benefit or loss leads to solution of a problem. Opportunities are time related, and so need to be perceived early.

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Giant Star Burr Puzzle

Puzzle is a situation where one knows a correct solution exists, but sufficient efforts are necessary to discover it. Puzzles are of Three types: Soluble, currently insoluble and ever insoluble. Soluble puzzles can be tackled with current knowledge. Currently insoluble puzzles will be hopefully solved, when resources and information are adequately available. Puzzles, however, remain insoluble, when certain important sections are irretrievably lost. Puzzles have such inbuilt solutions that in real sense, there are no need to solve any thing, but locate the solution and identify the way to reach it. Puzzles are solved as soon as the end itself, or the means to the end are in sight.

Texas Hold em Hole Cards

Dilemmas offer multiple choices, each of which seems equally fitting. Dilemmas remain in-force only for a particular time span, situation or value judgment. Dilemmas, if handled by a different person, attended at another time, or dealt in another situation, may not be a problem at all. Dilemmas pose as twin offering, of which only one need be appropriate. So if the problem is probed further and deeper and separated from its dependencies one of the solutions is likely to be just slightly more superior or less inferior.

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The problems in life relate to what one may want to gain or possess, and forget or dispose something. Situations are known, but need some support to make it better managed. The support may be different attitude, and additional knowledge, resources or time. Situations seem to strange because one needs to realize that a problem does exist.

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DECISION MAKING

Post 369 –by Gautam Shah

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Design processes involve Decision Making. Decisions are taken on factors that are essentially part of the project itself, and also on various presumptions, which may or may not become part of the project. In the first case the decisions are made on factors that are internal, through a process of selection, confirmation, elimination, etc. While in the later case, the decisions are made from external factors, where not only the relevance, but the entire range of their effects needs to be forecast.

Actknowledge_people_in_process_and_action

Decisions are primarily taken when an action is required, or when further decisions are due. Decisions are taken at: conscious level (intellectual) and subconscious level (intuitive). Actual time and exact place of a decision cannot be identified. However, the context within which certain decisions are made can be known.

Decisions are taken through:

Analysis: Dissecting a whole into parts so to understand it better.

Synthesis: Combining several things to form a whole to see if it is pertinent.

Holism: Conceptualizing the whole thing.

Expedition_36_flight_engineer_Chris_Cassidy

The quality of decision is governed by the decision makers’ (design professionals’) state such as: physiological fitness, mental alertness, personality traits (daring, fear), information, training, experiences, opportunities, time, resources (human, equipment, finance, circumstances), etc.

The gut-feeling (Forbes)

Decision making helps a designer with an analytical base to affirm a belief (intuitive or ‘gut-feeling’) and select a course of action from several nearly equal alternative possibilities. Decisions do not have mathematical sharpness or uniqueness. There is never a perfect decision. There usually are many different ways of achieving the same goal. A decision is a subjective process that offers the best course for a given situation. The situation here could be the mental condition, exigency or compulsion. Actualization of a decision may include course corrections. Because the original decision making moment and its conditions change by the time actualization occurs. Efficiency of a decision is judged, on how much it accomplishes and in what time. A reasonable decision always takes one closer to the goal, however, slightly.

PBL_group_at_Gadjah_Mada_University

Decision makers ask questions like:

Is the objective defined ?

Is sufficient information available ?

How many options are available ?

Have these options been evaluated ?

Are all risks identified and provided for ?

Does this decision feel right, now that actions are being taken on it ?

Simons_3_stages_in_Decision_Making

Decision making and consequences thereof (actions or further decisions) are often so interlaced that it is not possible to view them separately.

Decision making comprises of:

1   forecasting the most opportunity moment and the most obvious context, for the consequences to occur or even not to occur.

  determination of probabilities of occurrence or follow up actions.

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Another article (detailed) on same subject >> https://designacademics.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/decision-making-and-problem-solving-22-design-implementation-processes/

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