Problem Solving Process
To analyze a problem accurately, it is important to understand its origins: an erroneous perception of circumstances in the minds of people interested in accomplishing a mission. The main elements of perception are written in the blocks of the model. When the model is built, it becomes clear what needs to be achieved, what mission should be completed, what is hindering it. The essence of the mission, the contradiction, and the task become clear.
The issue can be resolved only by changing the situation:
Revise the meaning of key points, the information contained in the blocks, transform the content of situation.
Reconsider the relationships between key points, modify the structure of circumstances.
This refers not so much to a “physical” impact on situation, but rather to revision of perceptions of interested parties. To accomplish a “physical” transformation of circumstances, one needs first to understand them in a new way.
Therefore, the solving process mainly comes down to a review of perception.
Perception and Value System
Persons interested in accomplishing the mission perceive what is happening through the prism of their value system. Their idea of any important issue is very difficult to reconsider. This is how the tendency to confirm one’s point of view and the resistance to any attempt to revise it work. This phenomenon is called by many "psychological inertia."
The value system includes only meaningful concepts. Values reflect the perception of the content.
What could be done? To accomplish the “Mission: Impossible,” it is necessary to modify the interested parties' understanding of what is happening. But perception is difficult or almost impossible to reconsider. Is it really impossible to find a solution that does not violate anyone's values? Yes, it is impossible, but only in our imagination. Let's try to revise or at least slightly adjust our understanding of ways to resolve the problem.
We need to “overcome” our own psychological inertia, change our thoughts about the fact that perception can be modified only by reconsidering the understanding of what is happening. The key word here is "only." There is another way to revise the situation: to transform the relationships of the basic elements of circumstances-at-hand.
What's the difference?
Perception of links between the issues is not included in the human value system, in contrast to the perception of the issues themselves. The value system includes elements of content, but not the structural ones.
This fact provides us with opportunity to resolve the problem-at-hand, without affecting the values of those concerned: to change the way they understand the relationship between the important issues, while preserving the content of situation.
But how to realize this opportunity? Each relationship between the main issues is a chain of events that is understandable to interested parties, but not linked to their values.
By changing this chain of events, one can modify the relationship. Thus, one can review the whole situation, while preserving the values and interests of involved parties.
"Mission: Impossible" Accomplishment: Case Study
We continue to consider the rice drying case study. The model developed earlier describes the content of situation (texts inside blocks) and its structure (arrows between blocks). We have already found out that it is necessary to search for ways to accomplish the mission through modification of links:
It is recommended to modify the structure of problem situation as follows:
I. Ensure profitable farming, despite the fact that the noise suppressor is very expensive.
II. Find another way to ensure good relations with your neighbors, instead of installing a noise suppressor.
III. Ensure good relations with neighbors, despite the fact that the noise of the dryer annoys other farmers.
IV. Provide long-term storage of rice without drying it with cross-flow of hot air.
Link: How It Works
Let's consider the possibilities suggested by the first recommended modification.
It is necessary to understand the relationship of the obstacle “silencer is very expensive” with requirement “profitable farming”. In other words, why the high cost of the noise suppressor interferes with profitable farming. The relation of interest to us can be described as follows:
Noise suppressor is very expensive. The farmer incurs large costs for its purchase, spends time and effort to install it.
A farmer sells rice and earns revenue from his sale. After installing a noise suppressor, the amount of grain sold and its price will remain the same. Then the farmer’s income will remain the same.
Aerodynamic drag will increase, but the flow will remain the same. The cost of electricity will increase slightly.
The energy consumption for heating the air and the calorific value of the fuel will remain. Therefore, the required amount of kerosene and its costs are unchanged.
Profit is the difference between income and expenses. Profit from the sale of rice is below the price of silencer. The incomes are the same, but the costs increase, the profit decreases. Thus, profitable farming is hindered.
Italicized phrases are the events comprising the link in question.
Selection of Events for Modification
While solving the issue, we should take into account the important requirements:
The amount of rice remains unchanged.
Selling rice on the market does not depend on drying technology, but only on product quality.
The drying process and its parameters should remain the same: they determine the quality of drying and the duration of storage.
Therefore, events that are associated with the above requirements should be excluded from further consideration. Here are the events we can modify:
energy consumption for heating air is unchanged
heat of combustion is unchanged
the required amount of kerosene is unchanged
fuel costs is unchanged
profit from the sale of grain is less than the price of the silencer