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Assignment 2: Problem Solving
When faced with a problem, what do you do to solve it? This assignment asks you to apply a six-step to problem solving process to a specific problem scenario. You will write a paper that presents a synthesis of your ideas about solving the problem using this systematic approach. As Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”
Scenario 1: You have worked at your company for eleven (11) years. You have returned to college to earn a Bachelor’s degree in order to increase your chances for a promotion. You are nearly finished with your degree, when a supervisor’s position in a competing company becomes available in another state. The start date is in two (2) weeks, during your final exam period for your courses. The position offers a $15,000 per year salary increase, a car allowance, and relocation expenses. Your former supervisor works for the company and is recommending you for the position based on your outstanding job performance; if you want the job, it’s yours. All of the other supervisors at this level in the company have Master’s degrees, so you know that you would be expected to earn your Bachelor’s degree and continue on to a Master’s degree. Your present company offers tuition reimbursement, but the new company does not.
Review the six-step problem solving process outlined in the webtext, based on the article “The Problem Solving Process” located at http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html:
- Step One: Define the problem
- Step Two: Analyze the problem
- Step Three: Generate options
- Step Four: Evaluate options
- Step Five: Make your decision
- Step Six: Implement and reflect
Write a four to five (4-5) page paper in which you:
- Define the problem in the scenario that you have chosen.
- Analyze the problem in the scenario.
- Generate options for solving the problem in the scenario.
- Evaluate the options for solving the problem.
- Decide on the best option for solving the problem.
- Explain how you will implement the decision made and reflect on whether this option was the most effective.
The paper should follow guidelines for clear and organized writing:
- Include an introductory paragraph and concluding paragraph.
- Address main ideas in body paragraphs with a topic sentence and supporting sentences.
- Adhere to standard rules of English grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and spelling.
Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:
- Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA Style format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.
- Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.
People often face various problems in life that often call for the application of effective solutions in a process known as problem solving. As defined by Robbins (2014), problem solving refers to the process of generating solutions to issues that are complex or difficult. When faced with a problem, there would be need for one to put into practice the necessary problem solving skills that would help generate the most appropriate solution to the problem. It should also be noted that problems vary and as such, methods of reaching their solutions may vary. However, there is a general problem solving process that cuts across all problems. This process consists of six steps: problem definition, problem analysis, generating possible solutions, analysis of the solutions, selecting the best solution(s), and planning the next action course (“The Problem Solving Process,” 2016). This paper sets out to discuss and show, through a problem scenario, that the six steps can be successfully applied in generating the best possible solution to a problem.
Problem definition involves diagnosing the problem by looking into the symptoms, background, and context of the issue at hand. Once some understanding is developed into what the problem may be, its wider symptoms are investigated so as to discover its implications. In the second step, problem analysis, the root cause(s) of the problem is/are determined. After understanding of the cause(s), alternative solutions are developed. The alternatives should be as many as possible as this would enhance the development of the most effective solution (“The Six Step Problem Solving Model,” 2020). Fourth, the generated solutions are analyzed to determine the ones that are close to solving the problem at hand. In the fifth step, the best solution among the ones picked from the original list is decided upon. This solution is then implemented with a view to comprehensively solving the problem.
If I find myself in scenario 1, I would first of all diagnose and define the problem that I would be facing. In this particular scenario, I would be facing the problem of making the best decision out of a dilemma. The situation puts me in a dilemma because I have two companies to choose from. One is my former company while the other is a competing company. The competing company has a tempting offer as it offers a better pay package as compared to my current position in my current company. It also offers other benefits. The offer comes at a time when I am almost done with my bachelor’s degree. I will however need to go for my master’s degree so as to be at par with the other supervisors at my level should I choose the new company. On the other hand, my current company requires my services and it offers tuition reimbursement. Therefore, the problem before me is, do I go for the newer attractive position or do I just stay with my current employer and expect to be promoted?
After the problem definition, I would set down to analyze the problem. In this step, I would check my current position and situation and try to figure out what really makes it a problem (Robins, 2014). I would consider the benefits I am receiving at my current company and compare them with what is in the offing at the new potential employer. I would view the benefits on the basis of both long term and short term. This would enable me to decide whether it would be prudent to move or to retain my position. Staying with my current employer would give me an opportunity of being promoted to a higher rank. I would also benefit from the tuition reimbursement that the company offers. Moreover, I would still have the chance to continue with education at the master’s level. However, if I choose to go for the new job, I would have such benefits as salary increment, covering of the relocation expenses by the company, and the provision of a car allowance by the company. The prospects of getting the new job are even made higher by the fact that my former supervisor who now works with the competing company is at hand to recommend me. However, the commencement date for the job coincides with my examination period.
Generating possible solutions to the problem would be the next step in this problem-solving process. As stipulated by Hicks (2013), I would come up with a number of possible solutions without evaluating them. This is because at this stage, I would need to exploit all my ideas concerning how the problem could be solved. One of the solutions would be to stick to my current position at my current company and expect to be promoted accordingly. The next solution would be to apply for the new post and ask to be allowed to resume my duties after my examinations. In this case, I would resign from my current position. The third possible solution would be to apply for the new position but not resign from my current position. In this third solution too, I would ask the new prospective employer to allow me start working after completing my final examinations for my degree. These are the three possible solutions I would generate for the problem.
The fourth step would be to analyze the solutions one by one. This is where I would consider and note down the positive and negative sides of every possible solution generated in the preceding step (Whimbey, Lochhead & Narode, 2013). Deciding to stick with my current employer at my current position would be advantageous in that I would have the hopes of being promoted given the acquisition of my Bachelor’s degree. I would also be assured of exploiting the provision of tuition reimbursement by the organization to further my education. It would however mean that I would miss out on the benefits that are at stake at the new company such as salary increment and car allowance. The second solution would see me work at the new company and enjoy all the mentioned benefits. However, I would be doomed if the company does not give in to my request of commencing my duties after the completion of my examinations given that I would have already resigned from my current position. I would be rendered jobless! Another disadvantage with this solution is that I would miss out on the tuition reimbursement provided by my current employer. The third solution would see me either work at the new company or retain my current job. In case my request of commencing after exams fails to be successful, I would go back to my current company. However, if the contrary happens, I would grab the new opportunity.
In the fifth step, I would select the best solution from the three analyzed solutions. In doing the selection, I would consider the weight of the stated pros and cons of every solution (Watanabe, 2010). This would help me choose the most appropriate idea as a solution. As per my analysis of the possible solutions, I would choose on the first solution: sticking with my current employer. This is the solution that I find to be the most ideal in addressing the issue at hand. It would ensure that I am guaranteed the job because as it is, I would already be an employee of the company. In this case, I would not apply for the new position even if the supervisor who also happens to be my former colleague tries to coerce or advise me for the same.
After arriving at the most appropriate solution, I would then implement it. I would go on and duly complete my final examinations and report back to my current company at the required date. I would politely but firmly decline any approaches that would be directed towards me by the competing company should there be any. I deem this particular decision to be the best option because of a number of factors. First, I like the idea of reimbursement of tuition fees by my current company. Second, applying for the other position would not be wise because chances of missing out on it would be there in terms of the commencement date. I would not want to be jobless. Moreover, applying for the new post and not resigning from the current one would be dangerous. The current employer would likely get to know that I would be seeking to leave and this would soil my relationship with the company. The situation would thus worsen if I fail to get the new job. Further, though the new job has many benefits, it would require me to go for my master’s degree and this would require finances. This would further be complicated by the fact that the company offers no tuition reimbursement.
As discussed above, it is evident that the six steps of problem solving would be effective if well applied. All one needs to do is to pay attention to every step and go through it in the most effective manner. A problem should be well diagnosed and defined so that it would attract the most workable possible solutions. Moreover, as many possible solutions as possible should be generated for a problem. It would be helpful in choosing the most ideal one. This way, even the most complex of problems can be easily solved.
The Problem Solving Process (2016). In GDRC. Retrieved February 23, 2016 from http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html
Hicks, M. J. (2013). Problem solving in business and management: Hard, soft and creative approaches. New York, NY: Springer.
Robbins, S. K. (2014). Problem solving: Techniques, strategies & skills for solving problems. Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace Independent Pub.
The Six Step Problem Solving Model. (2020). In Free Management Books. Retrieved May 31, 2020 from http://www.free-management-ebooks.com/news/six-step-problem-solving-model/
Watanabe, K. (2010). Problem solving 101: A simple book for smart people. London, UK: Ebury Publishing.
Whimbey, A., Lochhead, J. & Narode, R. (2013). Problem solving & comprehension. New York, NY: Routledge.