Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Identifying the Problem ...

We have all come across problems and situations that seem out of control, people going around in circles trying to resolve something that seemingly is unresolveable .... notice that in real life problems do not emerge in neat packages that say solve me ... thus, the introduction to the system must at the core realize that these problems are nearly always made up of individual pieces or chunks that are somehow related and need to be put into their place in the answer to the problem. Whether the problem is to solve an organizational nightmare or take a product from idea to market ... it is at the very core an exercise in identifying the parts to the problem and connecting them in a way that leads to the solution ....

The book takes the process of this identification and allows that the chunks of information should fit nicely on a normal Post-it note. The ability of the note to be placed on a board and then moved and rearranged allows for the integrity of the piece but yet the ability to mobilize it to its proper place in the grand scheme of things. Thus emerges the beauty of the method to take Post-its and create novel solutions to seemingly unsurmountable problems ... kind of like examing the trees and creating the forest ....

Straker identifies six tools in his method:
1) Post-up - evolved from brainstorming, brainwriting, brain dump
2) Swap Sort - prioritization matrix, paired comparisons or bubble sorts
3) Top-down Tree - tree diagam, process-decision program chart, cause effect diagram
4) Bottom-up Tree - Affinity diagram, Set Theory
5) Information Map - relations diagram, Mind Map
6) Action Map - Process flowchart, data-flow diagram

He brings up another interesting distinction in information chunks .. he calls it FOG for Fact Opinion or Guess ... be sure to somehow distinguish your chunks for additional clarity. It will be the aim of the process to eventually create nothing buy Facts to have the most relevance.

Describing methods of discerning solutions ... you practice divergent thinking to chunk as much into possible solutions ... divergent thinking is easiest if you let your mind flow and associate freely .. no matter how ridiculous this seems or how outside the box it goes ... chunk to your hearts content ... then comes the critical distillation of the process ... convergence, let the framework leading to the solution dictate the convergent path to the solution ... in the next installment I will make the leap to computer driven processes and how to implement this ....

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