When someone mentions problem solving, I think of a math problem or a major decision we make in life. I never really stopped to think how we use problem solving skills in everyday life. After reading the Gestalt approach to problem solving, I was really able to see how we use problem solving for a lot of our everyday tasks (Goldstein, 2011).
Solving some everyday problems is easier if they are able to be represented on paper and some problems are easier to just figure out in your mind. For instance, some of the problems I face at work are easier to figure out in my mind verses seeing them on paper. Those problems involve thinking about who may or may not be effected by software changes and trying to decide who will benefit from those changes. It does help to brainstorm on paper if the problem is too complex but for the most part, no written representation is needed.
We do have times at work when seeing the problem on paper really helps figure out a solution. There are two processes we use for problem solving. One is called root cause analysis and the other is called Lean Six Sigma. The difference in the two processes is that root cause analysis traces the problem in reverse to figure out where the system failure occurs where as Lean Six Sigma looks forward to figure out how to make the current processes better. I enjoy working with both of these processes but I like the Lean Six Sigma process better because it uses different diagrams, charts, and graphs to help with the visualization of problem solving.
I feel that having diagrams, charts, and graphs really helps with the problem solving process. Looking at those really helps me visualize a solution. The examples that the Gestalt psychologists used in our readings not only had directions but also diagrams to show the problem or its components (Goldstein, 2011). Those two things combined make it easier for me to try and figure out the problem. I’ve always had to draw diagrams with word problems in math because I need the visual as well as the written piece to figure some of the problems out. This is probably why I enjoy the Lean Six Sigma approach to problem solving.
These are just two examples of problem solving processes I use on a regular basis at work. There are so many other ways I use problem solving techniques on a daily basis but these two are the most complex methods that I use. Now that I’ve taken the time to sit down and really think about how many times I problem solve in a day, I am amazed at how often this happens. I guess it’s just one of those things that happens in life that we don’t really stop to think about.
Cognitive Psychology Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. Goldstein, E. Bruce. 2011. Third Edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.