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IDEAL Problem Solving Template

Credits The IDEAL problem solving strategy in this map is adapted from "The IDEAL Problem Solver" by John D. Bransford and Barry S. Stein. W. H. Freeman and Company, New York 1993. Some of the other problem solving tools are taken from "101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques" by James H. Higgins. New Management Publishing Company, Winter Park 1994.

How to use this map


identify problems and opportunities


describe the problem

take different points of view

collect questions

what?. why?. how?. ....

draw a figure

analyse causes

why-why technique. The why-why technique is used to find out the causes of a problem. Start with the initial problem. Ask "Why is this so?" and collect a number of causes. For each of these causes (or at least the most imporatnt ones) ask again "Why is this so?". This way, you quickly get a good impression of the root causes of the problem.. fishbone diagram.



define alternative goals. TOOLS. RESULTS. best thing to do?. Napoleon technique. The somewhat grand name "Napoleon technique" means simply this: Ask yourself what a person like Napoleon would do with your problem or in your situation or which goals he might set for himself. Of course, you may want to replace Napoleon by any historical figure or fictional character that might deal with your problem in a useful way.. visualize outcome. Imagine the state of things when you have reached a certain goal. Imagine a "mental movie". Make a drawing.. double question. The question "how to make it OK n o t to solve the problem" directs the view to solutions outside your initial concept of your problem. (Some problems don't have to be solved.). how can I solve the problem?. how can I make it OK not to solve the problem?.


explore possible strategies. TOOLS. RESULTS. brainstorming. Main idea of brainstorming: Separate the stages of idea collection and idea evaluation. Do not criticize ideas in the collection phase.. explore analogies. Look for areas where problems similar to yours have already been solved. Don't hesitate to borrow good ideas. Example: You want to construct an revolutionary new automatic toothbrush. One way to look at it is via the question "How can dirt be removed?" So start with brooms, rags, lawn mowers, water hoses and see where these ideas may lead you.. forced relationship. Take an area that is more or less unrelated to your problem. Take for example "music" when you are faced with a technical problem. Then collect concepts from music - orchestra, instruments, score... Transfer these concepts to your problem.. reversal - dereversal a.k.a. flip-flop. First ask: "How could we make things even worse?" (This is usally fun.) The ask what the opposites of these deteriorating measures are.. look for information. morphological analysis. SCAMPER. literature. internet. mail to experts. substitute something. combine things. adapt things. magnify / minimize things. put things to other use. eliminate things. reverse / rearrange.

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thomasteepe, 22.11.2009. Thiss is a sample comment..


assess and act. TOOLS. RESULTS. assess. act. ETHOS analysis. pros and cons. weighted ranking. how-how?. use "Getting Things Done" system. economic. technical. human. organisational. social.


look back and learn. TOOLS. RESULTS. distance. improvements?. criticize. talk to others. sleep on it.