Conventional Problem Solving

  • Alan Miller
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)

Abstract

The term problem solving is applied to a variety of activities ranging from puzzle solving, such as cleaning up a toxic spill, to the more complex and uncertain tasks of planning and policy making. In all cases, the typical problem-solving process is less rational than some would like to see.1 Consequently, practical problem solving strays far from the rational-comprehensive ideal so revered by technical professionals. According to this latter way of thinking, problem solving should pass through a number of discrete stages arranged in a logical sequence, with each step building on the previous in a coherent manner (Figure 4.1). It is assumed, for instance, that it is possible to begin the problem-solving sequence by achieving consensus on the basic nature of the problem in question, which allows subsequent development of a comprehensive picture of it during the problem definition stage. Once this exhaustive understanding has been achieved, a variety of possible solutions are generated in some unspecified, but rational, way. A logical, often computer-assisted, decision process allows the most promising solution to be selected for implementation. Once choices have been made, the policy is implemented as planned by managers and other operational experts, closely following the policy guidelines laid down. After a suitable interval, the impact on the problem of the chosen alternative is carefully evaluated against some establishedcriteria of effectiveness. The results of this evaluation are then used to modify the original conception of the problem, and new routes to its solution may be explored, thereby starting the problem-solving cycle rotating once again. On the whole, however, given the rational and comprehensive nature of the earlier phases, it is assumed that redirection of efforts at such a late stage would most likely be unnecessary.2

Keywords

Nova Scotia Concern Parent Forestry Community Forest Industry Forest Insect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

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