Problem solving in the workplace (pdf)

Added on - 20 Sep 2019

Approaches to Problem Solving

This report is on "approaches to problem-solving".  Problem-solving have been defined as critical thinking skills for the employees as per the SCANS Report “What Work Requires of Schools”. Managers, engineers, and physicians are hired, rewarded, and retained for their problem-solving skills in the workplace. Especially in the case of engineering workplace where the employees are presented with a challenge of integrating their workplace real-world problems and issues with their curriculum studies. This report summarises your ideas on the model of problem-solving.

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Subject: Applied problem solving in engineering workplaceTopic: Applied Problem solving in the workplaceNameDateSubmitted to1
Applied Problem solving in the workplace2Table of ContentsIntroduction......................................................................................................................................3Description- AMEY Plc..................................................................................................................4Discussions......................................................................................................................................4Theme A- Approaches to problem solving..................................................................................4Activity 1a: Identifying complex problems.............................................................................4Activity 1b: Identifying complex problems in organization....................................................6Activity 2: Summarise your understanding of systems thinking.............................................7Activity 3:Summarise your ideas on the Model of problem solving......................................8Activity 4:Innovative and unusual models...........................................................................10Theme B.....................................................................................................................................12Activity 5: Choosing your problem.......................................................................................12Activity 6: Identifying the boundaries to the Problem..........................................................16Activity 7: Identification of a range of potential solutions....................................................18Activity 8: Identify the likely constraints..............................................................................20Activity 9: Evaluation of potential solutions.........................................................................22Theme C.....................................................................................................................................25Activity 10: Implementation process.....................................................................................25Activity 11: Risk Analysis and Management........................................................................27Activity 12: An Evaluation of the External Environment.....................................................36Activity 13: Producing a critical evaluation..........................................................................39Theme D....................................................................................................................................42Activity 14: Identifying values and their impact...................................................................42Activity 15: Ethical Issues.....................................................................................................44Activity 16: Applying ethical approaches.............................................................................46Theme E.....................................................................................................................................47Activity 17: Reviewing your thinking and decision-making strategies.................................47Activity 18: Reviewing the complex problem solving models and their application............49References......................................................................................................................................502
Applied Problem solving in the workplace3IntroductionFor decades, various reports have been beneficial in validating the need for problem solving inthe workplace. The problem solving have been defined as a critical thinking skills for theemployees as per the SCANS Report “What Work Requires of Schools”. Managers, engineersand physicians are hired, rewarded and retained for their problem solving skills in the workplace.Especially in the case of engineering workplace where the employees are presented with achallenge of integrating their workplace real-world problems and issues with their curriculumstudies. The engineers must stay abreast with the upcoming and new challenges along with theirchanging roles in the workplace. The understanding of problem solving in workplace along witheducational and instructional strategies for utilizing problems is required.With the emergence of competitive market in the industry and various businesses, the necessityof creative problem-solving models has emerged with a requirement for creative processes in theworkplace (Van Gundy, 1987; Rickards, 1990). Various firms and businesses are experiencingintense pressure for enhancing their products and systems so as to remain in the marketplacealong with the competition. With the emergence of competition, strategic planning, buildinglarger markets, team working etc., a need for new problem solving and related strategies hasemerged. Another reason for adoption of problem-solving methods especially for complexproblems is to discover efficient methods for solving the issues and problems. There are onlylimited number of tested manners for approaching the issues so as to reach the estimatedoutcome and employees and workplace must deal creatively with the problems by using variousproposed problem-solving models. Various structured, formal and highly efficient approachesare used for ensuring that the employees serving in the organization are equipped with anaptitude towards problem-solving and implementation in an optimal manner while maintainingthe ethical aspect of the organization.3
Applied Problem solving in the workplace4Description- AMEY PlcAmey Plc was found in 1921 and is considered to be the leading public services providers,supporting and managing vital public services and infrastructure across the United Kingdom.The company employs over 11,000 employees and works with private and public sector clientsin defence, aviation, education, central government, rail, local government, strategic highwayand helps these sectors to deliver services in an efficient and effective manner. Amey works withlocal authorities and aims to deliver highway infrastructure services to their clients whichincludes the Highways Agency, local authorities, Transport Scotland and Transport for London.Whole country is kept in track by Amey through whole-life asset and custom engineeringmanagement of the underground and over ground rail networks. Also a plethora of facilitiesmanagement services to the private sector, agencies, government departments and estate andnon-departmental bodies.DiscussionsTheme A- Approaches to problem solvingActivity 1a: Identifying complex problemsThe value of a structurally controlled and efficient problem-solving is beneficial in organizationfor promoting discipline and increasing the success percentage for the organization. The complexproblems can easily be characterized when a single team or expert does not have the expertiseand knowledge regarding its solution. The individuals have limited access to the information andrequire different area of expertise (Andreas Fischer, Samuel Greiff, and Joachim Funke, 2011).The various problems being faced by most of the organizations are listed below along with theircharacteristics:1.Surviving in a changing economy and marketplace: This issue leads to continuouschange in organization with repeated changing of tasks and missions so as to exist in the4
Applied Problem solving in the workplace5competitive environment. The information takes time to be shared widely and forformulating the decisional alternatives. On deciding upon the change, implementation isseen to proceed at high speed.2.Emerging demands of the customers:With globalisation at its peak, the high demandsof customers are emerging. Therefore, the companies are in a pressure of designing newservices and products. There is a need to analyse the international cultures and marketsalong with better gathering and analysis of the information.3.Change in organizational culture:With the change in organizational structure orculture the internal and external environment are impacted as it influences the effortlevel, working hours, uniform, religious observance, and discipline acceptance. Theproblem is seen to be at its highest level when the organization is located to other countryas it changes the concept of on group loyalty, employment security, intergroupcompetition, emphasis on seniority, and group decision making.The listed problems are complex in nature and can easily be characterised from the simpleproblems due to existence of multiple perspective from the employees and stakeholders, multipleactors for analysing the situation, accompanied by important intangibles and key uncertaintiesand also include people with conflicting interests as opposed to simple problems which do notrequire technical or expert support (Rosenhead and Mingers, 2001).5
Applied Problem solving in the workplace6Activity 1b: Identifying complex problems in organization1.Implementation of new technology for increasing potential efficiency:Theorganization shifted to the paperless technology due to issues of various inefficiencies inthe paper-based approaches like duplicative site visits, reporting inaccuracies,inflexibility in the allocation of the job etc. Therefore, Amey deployed a mobile workingsystem for automating job allocation, standardising the process, safety checks, pre-workassessments and reporting to the government based highway contracts which led toconfusion among the employees. Even in a simple technical issues, a familiarity with thetechnical difficulties was seen to yield dividends.2.Lack of staff morale in a large organisation:Amey has, in past, conducted variousengagement initiatives for their employees which included self-nomination talent process,efforts towards retaining their people which led to reduction in loss of productivity hours,low training costs. However, the company has been facing these issues lately and agreesto the scope of improvement in employee engagement.3.Lack of communication among management:Communication has been posing anintense threat to Amey as more than 13,000 employees do not have any access to Ameyemail address or internet limiting the communication process of the company. This mightlead to ignoring of a large number of employees while decision-making process anddiscouragement amongst employee.These problems are highly complex as they require multiple frame of reference and an abstractreasoning. These are recurrent in nature and are well-structures with their resolutions beingsubjected to the stable rules (McWhinney).6
Applied Problem solving in the workplace7Activity 2:Summarise your understanding of systems thinking.System thinking has been defined as “a framework for seeing interrelationships rather thanthings, for seeing patterns rather than static snapshots. It is a set of general principles spanningfields as diverse as physical and social sciences, engineering and management“.(FifthPrinciples,68-69). With the emergence of system thinking, various industries have adoptedsystem engineering methods but the construction industry precisely has been facing difficultiesto deal with various complex infrastructure projects involving system of systems and innovativetechnologies. In the construction industry, the engineers are considered as a functional expert andare provided with greater leadership responsibility for considering all the implications of thedesigns and are recognizing the need for system thinking. It has been seen that when thefunctional design is produced without any consideration, it leads to inferior results. Therefore,the construction industry and its engineer leaders need to build shared vision with personalmastery and mental models for realising the potential. In order to develop the company and tosustain the increasing competitiveness among the complex world, there is a need for Amey toleverage the engineering capabilities of their engineers and adopt to the following principles asan application towards system thinking:1.Revising, debating and defining the purpose;2.Thinking in a holistic manner;3.Following a systematic procedure;4.Being highly creative;5.Taking people into account6.Managing relationships and construction projects7
Applied Problem solving in the workplace8A shared vision in construction projects will help in fostering commitment for long-termpurpose. And system thinking will help in integrating all the factors for the success of the projectand make the subtle aspects to be understandable by the learning organization. This will help theemployees and the companies to perceive themselves along with the competitive world. Theproblems being present in the company will be identified with the integration of shared vision,mind model, personal mastery and separate the industry from others.The conventional style of construction projects are complemented by the systems thinking invarious manner. Initially it helps in analysis and synthesising for various issues beingencountered in the while handling the construction projects. It will complement the reductionismby reducing the amount of work into individual sections, effect thinking, analysing and breakingdown complex construction projects into simpler part, circular casual effects by explaining theenvironmental factors and their influence on the construction project and indeterminism whereprobabilistic thinking for the work is required. Finally systems thinking will be beneficial insetting up a framework for utilisation of various construction theories, techniques and tools inorder to employ contingent perspectives and holistic construction practices.Activity 3:Summarise your ideas on the Model of problem solvingThis problem solving process, looks into account the McWhinney model of problem solvingwhich refers to the identification and solving of problem by taking into account different viewsand perspective and how to react on various techniques, problem solving and practices. Themodel takes into account four phases namely, unitary, mythic, sensory and social. Unitary phasein any organisation mainly defines the framework, policies, principles, theories, design,assumptions, clarification etc.Mythic means the organisation vision, ideas, opportunities,dreams, metaphors etc. Sensory refers to action, behaviours, resource, experience etc of theemployees and employers and social phase refers to values, feelings, purpose etc.Figure 1 Model of McWhinney8
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Importance of Problem Solving Skills in the Workplace

From the above report "approaches to problem-solving", we conclude that reviewing the complex problem-solving models and their application our organization deployed the McWhinney model of problem-solving which referred to the solving as well as identification of various perspectives. The model used four phases namely, unitary, mythic, sensory, and social. The unitary phase referred to how the policies, framework, theories, and assumptions were defined during the change process. Followed by mythic where the vision, dreams, and metaphors were discussed and the sensory referred to as experience and behavior of the employees, and finally, the social phase which reflected the values and purpose of the process. This model was seen to go beyond the traditional problem-solving techniques. This model was seen to include various phases and processes which is seen to move through various thinking frames (frames of reference) where all the processes had their own outcomes, language, and rules.