Study Guide by Barbara Allen

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Applied Problem Solving in theWorkplace.Study GuideModule Co-ordinator:Dr. Olanrewaju Olaoye (a.k.a. Larry)Version 12016/17
Credits and acknowledgementsInitially developed by Barbara Allen this guide was further developed in 2014 by Michael Howitt, TraceyWhite, Amy Pearson, Tony Johns and Neil Gammon.Updated in 2003Michael HowittUpdated and revalidated 2008Michael HowittUpdated in 2011Michael HowittUpdated in 2012Michael HowittUpdated 2014Michael Howitt / Tracey White / Amy Pearson/Tony Johns / Neil GammonUpdated 2015Amy Pearson and The APSU TeamUpdated 2016 Dr. Olanrewaju Olaoye and The APS TeamFirst published 2000 byCentre for Access and Lifelong LearningUniversity of Lincolnshire and HumbersideCottingham RoadHull HU6 7RTUpdated and revalidated 2014 byLincoln Business SchoolUniversity of LincolnBrayford CampusLincoln LN6 7TS© University of LincolnAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system ortransmitted in any form or by any means, without prior permission of the publisher.
ContentsCredits and acknowledgements2Section 1 Welcome6Introduction to the student guide............................................................................................................6What do you need to do next?...............................................................................................................6The module and its aims........................................................................................................................7Working through the module..................................................................................................................7Teaching and learning methods.............................................................................................................7Resources and materials........................................................................................................................8Support...................................................................................................................................................9Assessment..........................................................................................................................................10Assessment and assessment criteria...............................................................................................10Module learning outcomes...................................................................................................................11Structure and content of the module....................................................................................................11Contact time.....................................................................................................................................12Academic Referencing and Plagiarism.............................................................................................12Section 2Learning programme13Theme A Approaches to problem solving.............................................................................................13Introduction.......................................................................................................................................13Learning outcomes...........................................................................................................................13Preparation.......................................................................................................................................13Guidelines.........................................................................................................................................13Topic 1 Introduction to complex problem solving.................................................................................14Suggested Activity One Reading - Identifying Complex Problems...................................................14Activity 1a Identifying complex problems..........................................................................................15Activity 1bIdentifying complex problems in your organisation..........................................................16Topic 2 Systems thinking technology and organisational change........................................................17Activity 2 Summarise your understanding of systems thinking.........................................................18Suggested Reading Activity Two – Systems Thinking......................................................................18Topic 3 Models of problem solving.......................................................................................................19Activity 3 A model for complex problem solving................................................................................20Suggested Reading Activity Three - A model for complex problem solving......................................20Topic 4 Different approaches to problem solving.................................................................................21Activity 4 Innovative and unusual models.........................................................................................21Suggested Reading Activity Four - Innovative and unusual models.................................................21Follow up work from the Theme A topics..........................................................................................22Theme B Working on a real life problem..............................................................................................23Introduction.......................................................................................................................................23Preparation.......................................................................................................................................23Learning outcomes...........................................................................................................................23Topic 5 Identification of a complex problem to work on........................................................................23Activity 5 Choosing your problem.....................................................................................................24Suggested Reading Activity Five - Choosing your problem..............................................................24Topic 6 Identifying problem boundaries................................................................................................29Activity 6 Identifying the boundaries to the Problem.........................................................................29Suggested reading Activity Six - Identifying the boundaries to the Problem.....................................30Topic 7 Identification of a range of potential solutions..........................................................................32Activity 7 Potential solutions to your problem...................................................................................33Suggested Reading Activity Seven - Potential solutions to your problem.........................................33Topic 8 Constraints..............................................................................................................................35Activity 8 Identify the likely constraints..............................................................................................35Suggested Reading Activity Eight - Identifying the likely constraints................................................35Topic 9 Evaluation of potential solutions..............................................................................................36Activity 9 Evaluation of potential solutions........................................................................................36Suggested Reading Activity Nine – Summary Matrix........................................................................36Summary matrix...............................................................................................................................37Follow up work for the Theme B topics.............................................................................................38Theme C Evaluating progress and dealing with operational issues.....................................................39Introduction.......................................................................................................................................39Page3
Learning Outcomes..........................................................................................................................39Topic 10 Implementation process........................................................................................................39Activity 10 Developing and using your implementation plan.............................................................40Suggested Reading Activity Ten- Developing and using your implementation plan.........................40Topic 11 Risk Analysis and Management............................................................................................41Probability and Impact Grid..............................................................................................................42Risk Management Grid.....................................................................................................................43Activity 11 Assessing and managing the risk in your implementation plan.......................................43Suggested Reading Activity Eleven- Assessing and managing the risk in your implementation plan.........................................................................................................................................................43Topic 12 The External Environment.....................................................................................................44Activity 12 An Evaluation of the External Environment.....................................................................45Suggested Reading Activity Twelve – An evaluation of the external environment............................45Topic 13 A critical evaluation................................................................................................................47Activity 13 Producing a critical evaluation.........................................................................................47Suggested Reading Activity Thirteen – Review/Critical Evaluation/ Critical Steps...........................47Follow-up work for the Theme C topics............................................................................................48Theme D Values and ethical issues.....................................................................................................49Introduction.......................................................................................................................................49Learning outcomes...........................................................................................................................49Topic 14 Values...................................................................................................................................50Activity 14 Identifying values and their impact..................................................................................50Suggested Reading Activity Fourteen - Identifying values and their impact.....................................50Your own values...............................................................................................................................50Values of the organisation................................................................................................................51Topic 15 Corporate responsibility and ethics........................................................................................52Activity 15 Ethical Issues..................................................................................................................52Suggested Reading Activity Fifteen - Ethical Issues and Approaches..............................................52Topic 16 Applying Ethical Approaches.................................................................................................52Activity 16 Applying ethical approaches............................................................................................53Suggested Reading Activity Sixteen – Ethical Approaches..............................................................53Follow-up work for the Theme D topics............................................................................................53Theme E Review of learning................................................................................................................54Introduction.......................................................................................................................................54Learning outcomes...........................................................................................................................54Topic 17 Review of thinking and decision making strategies...............................................................54Decision-making inventory................................................................................................................55Activity 17 Reviewing your thinking and decision making strategies.................................................57Suggested Reading Activity Seventeen - Reviewing your thinking and decision-making strategies.57Topic 18 Review of the problem-solving process.................................................................................58Activity 18 Reviewing the complex problem solving models and their application............................58Suggested Reading Activity Eighteen – Reflective report.................................................................58Portfolio Preparation.............................................................................................................................59Section 3 Assessment criteria60Section 4 Learning resources63Resource 1 Review of Problems and problem solving.........................................................................64Resource 2 McWhinney et al (1997) model of problem solving...........................................................67Resource 3 Modes of change, directional methods and tools for problem solving...............................69Resource 4 Different tools for problem solving.....................................................................................72Resource 5 Learning Organisations.....................................................................................................73Resource 6 Values...............................................................................................................................77Resource 7 Ethics................................................................................................................................79Appendix One88Page4
Section 1 WelcomeIntroduction to the student guideWelcome to the Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace module of the Work Based Distance Learning(WBDL) Degree. This core module in the degree programme builds from the Management of Changemodule (please note previous assessments cannot be copied from). It is an important module that will helpyou develop the knowledge and skills you need to tackle complex problems at work.The purpose of this guide is to provide you with:background information to the modulesuggested reading and resourcesdetails about each topic covered in the moduledetails about the module assessmentThe background information to the module is summarised in Section 1.Section 2gives you an outline guide to the module topics (which are grouped together into five generalthemes) and the order in which you will study them.Section 3gives details of the assessment criteria that will be used. (It will be important to refer to thissection when preparing your assessment submissions for the module).Section 4contains detailed supporting materials for the module.Section 5contains the reading list.What do you need to do next?You will need to read and become familiar with the module and guide; you will find additional resources onthe module site on Blackboard. You are advised in particular to read the information about Theme A(Approaches to problem solving) and Theme B (Working on a real life problem). Then complete Topic 1and submit to your tutor so that he / she can be sure that you are on the right track.Page5
The module and its aimsThe module will help you develop your problem-solving skills. It is expected that you have anunderstanding of different models of problem solving, a range of skills needed to solve workplace problemsand experience of applying problem-solving models, techniques and skills in the workplace.This module aims to give you:an understanding of the nature of complex problems which include problems with unknown and/orunpredictable featuresa range of advanced skills to equip you to solve complex problems in the workplaceapplied experience of more complex problem solving in the workplace.Working through the moduleAt the start of this module you will identify an example problem in your own workplace on which to work asyou complete the module. This means that you will have the opportunity to develop, integrate and applythe new ideas and techniques you learn about as you progress through the module. You do not have toimplement the solution but you will need to plan its implementation The module is presented through fivethemes and as you work through each you will be guided through the problem-solving process for your ownexample problem. Because each theme builds on the knowledge and skills developed in its predecessors,it is important that you study the themes in the order set out in this guide.Teaching and learning methodsYou will experience a range of learning strategies during the module, including:working independently on a series of learning activitiesundertaking a complex problem solving project in your workplacedifferent modes of communication with your tutor, e.g. e mail, telephone, video chat.using open learning materials, both paper-based and onlineaccessing individual support and guidance from your tutorAs this module is worth 30 CATS points you need to assign about 300 hours of study time to it.Page6
Resources and materialsTo work through this module, you will need the following resources:Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace– the student guide (this document)Internet access so that you can use the University’s Blackboard and its facilitiesThe Library and Electronic Resources Guide and further guides located on Blackboard, theUniversity of Lincoln Harvard Referencing Handbook (2013) and the Submission Sheet. Theseguides are located on the learning material site of Blackboard, within the Applied Problem Solvingsite.The reading list located on BlackoardAccess to journals (such as viafind it at Lincoln)You will also need to use the Section 5 reading list in this guide as a starting point for relevant reading andexploration of current ideas on complex problem solving.The reading list includes resources which you can save as PDF’s and print if required. If you have anunstable internet connection or online access may be hindered, it is advisable to save or print the availableresources from the reading list. While resources have been linked to the activities, this is by no means anexhaustive list. You will be required to undertake reading which is specific to your problem or industrycontext; equally you may find some suggested reading is not relevant to your chosen problem.As a degree level student you are expected to identify which resources are appropriate for your chosenthemes. Resources need to be appropriate in terms of subject, reliability and validity. Additional guidance isavailable at:http://guides.library.lincoln.ac.uk/content.php?pid=396210&sid=3244437Page7
SupportPlease remember that your tutor is very interested in supporting you and helping you to succeed. Yourtutor is available to deal with any queries about completion of the Module and you are encouraged to seekyour tutor’s assistance whenever you need it either by phone, via e-mail or in person, with email being theprimary and predominant mode of contact. It is essential to contact your tutor, submit drafts of your workand respond to feedback so that you both can be aware of the progress that you are making.Many of you will have had experience as a student in other learning institutions around the world. Eachinstitution will have its own ideas and approaches regarding student/tutor contact. This University,especially The Work Based Distance Learning Department, actively encourages student- tutor contactwhether it is to submit drafts of your work or final submissions but also as a means to explore ideas andissues. Please be assured that your contact is welcome whether it is regarding course content or toaddress any other issues or concerns, including issues relating to personal circumstances. The sooner youengage with your tutor and submit drafts of your work the more positive and rewarding your learningexperience will be.Appendix Onelists Additional University Services which you might find helpful to yourstudent experience.As you will almost certainly have completed earlier core modules in the WBDL programme, you will alreadybe familiar with the University’s Blackboard and its role in the delivery and support of the programme. Thissystem is available only to registered students and staff of the University and is accessed via the Internet orvia a PC connected to the University network.Essential support services enabled by Blackboard for this and other modules include:electronic distribution of course documentation and support materials that can be viewed on-line,downloaded or printed out as requiredelectronic transmission of files attached to messages between students and tutorsformal assessments and discussion boards (via Blackboard)direct links for students to external web-pagesAs for earlier WBDL modules, you will receive individual tutorial support during this module via e-mail,phone or Skype call. If you have any problems, your tutor will be able to advise you and sign post you asnecessary.Page8
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