Problem Solving And Decision Making In Organization
Techniques of Problem Solving. 3
Techniques in Decision Making. 4
In any business, problem-solving and decision making are very vital skills. This is because every step made and action taken is after a problem has been solved and a decision made. Problem-solving and decision making are inseparable because one leads to the other, solving a problem and not making a decision is an incomplete work.
The performance of any business is based on the techniques used to solve the problems and the tactic used in making the decisions. Different techniques and tactics are used for different businesses based on the structure, work culture and ethics and also the expected results (Brightman, p33). At the same time different people, especially in the management position make different decisions. This is the reason as to why one company can be crumbling under a specific management regime and can flourish when management is changed. A good analysis is that of Apple Inc when the co-founder Steve Jobs left the company, it underperformed however when he returned ten years later, he was able to bring the company back to its former glory. It was termed as the business turnaround of the 21st century.
Being in a group means that there are different personalities. There are some people who are natural decision makers; these are the people who work on making better quality decisions however people who are not natural decision-makers have to work on actually making the decisions confidently. Equal chances should be given to all personalities because the natural decision makers are known for making very many mistakes which they are expected to learn from. At the same time, those who are not natural decision makers are known for making a quality decision. This is true because Steve Jobs being the great decision maker he was, he left Apple Inc, in 1986 because he had made several decisions that had cost the company a lot of financial loses and he had to be stripped off of all his power and authority in the company.
Problem-solving is termed as a process of using methods and techniques in a systematic and organized manner so as to find a solution (Brightman, p40). It is basically a step that is followed by the identification of a problem that is in existence and there is a need to have it solved.
This is an all rounded analysis of the problem in an effort to come up with a solution. However, it focuses on the strengths and opportunities of the company or the group of people versus the threats (Fox, p19). It looks at both the external and internal environment as a problem can be as a result of poor interaction of the external and internal factors.
When all these factors are established the source of the problem can be determined and the solution can easily be found. When the problem is internal, management can be able to devise a method of ensuring the source is eradicated (Fox, p27). When the source of the problem is external, the group can make a decision that allows the business to go round it or reduce the effect it has on the business.
PEST focuses on the potentials and suitable opportunities of the market. Focusing on the external structure and dynamics can aid in coming up with a solution that is comfortable for all parties involved. In problem-solving, PEST analysis aids in showing the correlation between the external environment and the opportunities available for the firm. PEST analysis is used by groups in making decisions on the viability of a project.
Some problems are very difficult that finding the solution at times can prove to be very difficult. Some of the characteristics of difficult problems include;
- Lack of transparency – this means there is a problem but it cannot be detected especially the source. Once the source cannot be tracked, then the solution cannot be found because there is nothing to be diagnosed (Brightman, p56).
- Lack of agreement- this is especially when the parties involved have different goals and objectives. The solution suggested by one party does not seem like the correct one for the other team. Coming to a unanimous decision by the group becomes the greatest problem in finding the solution.
- Increased dynamics- when there are many constraints as to the solutions to be embraced, the problem is termed as complex and difficult. Some of these constraints include time, money and lack of personnel.
- Complexity and unpredictability- when the factors are too interrelated that a change in one has immense effects on the other then the problem is complex. When the effect on one factor has no clear results on the other factors then the problem is unpredictable (Fox, p41).
Even though difficult problems always exist, they are also always solved by using the necessary strategies.
Techniques of Problem Solving
- Abstraction- this basically involves conducting a small experiment to find out if the problem will be solved, before employing the solution to the real problem.
- Brainstorming- this is very applicable in groups as people will be allowed time to think and give their opinions as per the best way out of the problem. The different suggestions are brought together and developed until the best and appropriate solution is reached (Robson, p67).
- Hypothesis testing- this is assuming that there is a correlation between factors and that there is a solution to it. The solution is predetermined and proved later on.
- Reduction- this is mostly when the problem lacks transparency, most of the time the problem is turned into another problem that has an already existing solution.
Decision Making Process
Group decision making is based on the opinion of several people that usually leads to a choice in the end. The decision cannot be attributed to a single person because it is as a result of the discussion, however, a group should have a leader who will be able to control the different individuals (Hwang, p112). Group decision making is highly encouraged because it has more loyalty. This is because people feel they are more involved in the outcome. At the same time, it creates a sense of responsibility and accountability to all involved.
Techniques in Decision Making
- Democracy- this is where all the parties in the group have an equal chance of having their opinion heard. However it is based on a voting system where the group generally agrees on a number of choices and individuals are asked to vote (Groopman, p78). The method is used when making very important decisions that affect all those involved. However, it requires a lot of time and other costs as well before the decision is made.
- Delegation- this is when a group of people are chosen, mostly a committee, to make a particular decision. It is mostly when the decision requires some form of technical qualification that only a few members have. In this case, they are allowed to make the final decision. However, the final decision is usually subject to perusal by the larger group before it is passed on. A good example is when a constitution of a business is being passed; it has to be accepted by all the major stakeholders before it is passed (Hwang, 1987). The method is very effective because it saves on time and is gives fruitful results because those assigned are qualified. The only drawback to this process is that it can lead to resistance by those who feel their needs have not been properly addressed.
- Averaging process- this is when the members involved will make a private decision and averages are doing. Based on the conditions set beforehand, the decision is made. For instance, people are allowed to have their opinions and the one with the most proponents will be the one to be implemented. The only drawback, in this case, is that the decision is usually based on popularity and not on the best option, more often than not the decisions made are the opinion of the many but they are not the best and the choice does not lead to optimum results.
- Unanimous decision-making process- it is based on the premise that people in a group have several factors in common and eventually after proper discussion and analysis they all members will come to a unanimous decision. This means that during the time, cost-benefit analysis and strength and weaknesses are properly reviewed (Groopman, p200). The main advantage is that the decision is based on a proper evaluation of all the choices and the best one is picked. The drawback is that the process is time-consuming as it requires people to be convinced by their opinions. Most often than not, a unanimous decision is a rare occurrence.
- Random decision making- this is based on chance and it can be done by flipping a coin. It is usually done when there are two alternatives that offer the same results but require different implementation processes. It is a deal breaker because it is allowed when the people in the group cannot decide on which alternative is better than the other. The main advantage is that it is time and resource saving. The main drawback is that poor decisions are likely to be made because there is no analysis of the cost against the benefits.
Group decision making and problem-solving techniques, all have one major advantage that there is a large pool of information that can be used to do a better analysis of the problem as opposed to if it was a single person. At the same time, it offers the liability of disagreements and time consumption. The best way for a group to deal with making the proper decisions is to first have a leader that will be able to ensure that there are proper communication and coordination among the members. The leader should play the following roles; decide, facilitate, consult individuals, consult the entire group and finally delegate (Robson, p96). Once there is a good structure for the way forward, a solution will be easily found.
Brightman, J. H. Group Problem Solving: an Improved Managerial Approach, (1988), McGraw Hill Publishers
Fox, M. W. Effective Group Problem Solving, (2000), Oxford University Press, New York
Hwang, L. C. Lin, J. M. Group Decision Making under Multiple Criteria: Methods and Applications, (1987). Pauline’s Publishers
Robson, M. Problem Solving in Groups, (2002), Random House Publishers
Groopman, J. E. Effective Meetings: Improving Group Decision Making, (1996), Orthodox Publishers, New York
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