Problem Solving & Decision Making

Problem Solving:

What to do When Initially Faced with a Possible Problem  |  Ensure you Understand the Problem  |  General Approaches to Problem Solving  |  Looking for Possible Solutions  |  Assessing Possible Solutions  |  Once we Have a Solution

Decision Making:

The Approach to Making Big Decisions  |  Personal Decisions  |  The Timing of Decisions  |  Judging Decisions  |  Overturning Decisions  |  General Considerations when Decision Making

Useful or interesting Links  |  Quiz/Tests


“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking”


“If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes defining it, and 5 minutes solving it.”

Albert Einstein


Problem Solving> What to do When Initially Faced with a Possible Problem



Problem Solving> Ensure you Understand the Problem



Problem Solving> General Approaches to Problem Solving



Problem Solving> Looking for Possible Solutions



Problem Solving> Assessing Possible Solutions



Problem Solving> Once we Have a Solution



Decision Making> The Approach to Making Big Decisions


Decision Making> Personal Decisions


Decision Making> The Timing of Decisions



Decision Making> Judging Decisions


Decision Making> Overturning Decisions


Decision Making> General Considerations when Decision Making



Useful or interesting Links




Reminder on taking tests: It’s not about trying to prove you already know it, it’s about learning.
Question 1

You have a problem. List some of the questions you should ask yourself before you spend much time trying to fully understand or try to solve the problem itself.

Question 2

When a problem is being addressed we can think of there being 5 states of mind or stages that we and those involved can and should switch between. The first of these is “Data Gathering Mode”. What are the other 4?

Question 3

Complete the following phrases or sentences:

a. For every complex problem there is a simple and obvious solution – and … .
b. It is better to have a solution that is roughly right than one … .
c. A decision without … is for the most part hypothetical thinking.
d. It’s often not what you don’t know that is a problem when making decisions, it’s … .

Question 4

In practice, left to their own devices, people rarely choose the most logical solution or explanation, but usually choose solutions or explanations which are what? List out some of the characteristics of solutions which people often arrive at, reasons that are other than an objective and rationale assessment of the problem and potential solutions.

Question 5

When making a decision as to whether to do or not to do, ask yourself:

• What will happen if I do?

What are the 3 other questions in a similar vein you should ask yourself?

Question 6

A decision was made and the consequences turned out to be bad, very bad. The decision was clearly bad and the person responsible should be held to account. Is this reasonable?

Question 7

The outcome of a decision is always likely to be judged based on hindsight. What action can you take when arriving at a decision to reduce the likelihood of you being unfairly criticised afterwards for factors which could not reasonably have been foreseen at the time the decision was made?

Question 8

In decision making you need to ignore what has already been spent or invested, and make the decision based upon current circumstances. What term is used to refer to spends that have already been made?

Question 9

If you can’t decide between two choices list out some ways of getting to a decision.

Question 10

If in facing a decision none of your options are good, what should you do?


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