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Most problems can be categorized according to how much structure they possess. For instance, if your problem is well-structured, you will have a clear idea of how to solve it. You would know your current state, the desired state, and how to close the gap. The previous problem, running out of gas, is clearly a well-structured problem.
In a manufacturing organisation, the work days lost to injuries would be another example if you know how many days are lost for a time period, how many days should be lost (a realistic goal), and how to reduce that gap. If you don’t know with certainty how to reduce this gap, then the problem would be more “fuzzy” or ill-structured.
Ill-structured problems provide relatively little guidance or structure on how to solve them. An example would be a problem of generating new product ideas. In this case, there are many possible options, but no clear-cut way to proceed (that is, no way to guarantee a new product home run). Or a non- profit organization might have an ill-structured problem on how to recruit new volunteers.
The type of problem will determine the approach to use. In general, you should hope that all of your problems are well-structured. According to Nobel Prize winner, Herbert Simon, the goal of all problem solving is to make problems well-structured. Such problems are the easiest to solve, because you can use a routine response. Fuzzy problems with less structure require creative responses. For these problems, you must devise custom-made responses that require more time and effort.
Problem Solving
If you accept a problem as a gap between a current and desired state, then the problem solving can be defined as the process of making something into what you want it to be. That is, when you solve a problem, you transform “what is” into “what it should be” This means you have to figure out how to do something different. You have to change that status quo into another status. How you do this is the trick.
The more ideas you generate, the closer you come to transforming an existing problem state into another one. For instance, suppose you currently possess a 12 percent market share of a product line and your objective is to capture a 15 percent share. If so, you will need options to reduce the 3 percent gap. Every idea you generate increases the overall probability of reducing the gap and achieving your goal. The more idea you can spew out, the easier it will be to resolve your problem. Thus, the more activities you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to do problem solving

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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