Problem- Solving [Part-II]

Thinking patterns

Problem solvers should choose appropriate patterns, responding to situations. Hence, the problem-solvers should adhere four universal patterns to make good decision which is discussed below:strategic thinking, emotional thinking, realistic thinking, and empirical thinking.


  • Strategic thinking: Focus, or bias, is the criterion for strategic thinking. If you judge whether a situation is right or wrong based on whether the situation is focused or not, your judgement is strategic. A strategy is not necessarily strategic. Historically, many strategists such as Confucius in ancient China, Naplon, M. Porter proposed strategic thinking when they develop strategies.
  • Emotional thinking: In organizations, an emotional aspect is essential. Tactical leaders judge whether a situation is right or wrong based on the participant’s emotional commitment. They think that if participants can be positive to a situation, the situation is right.
  • Realistic thinking
  1. Start from what we can do
  2. Fix the essential problem first

These two criteria are very useful. “Starting” is very important, even if we do very little. We do not have to start from the essential part. Even if we start from an easier part, starting is a better judgement than a judgement of not-starting in terms of the first part of realistic thinking. Further, after we start, we should search key factors to make the Problem Solving more efficient. Usually, 80 % of the problems are caused by only 20 % of the causes. If we can find the essential 20 % of the causes, we can fix 80 % of problems very efficiently. Then if we try to find the essential problem, what we are doing is right in terms of the second part of realistic thinking.

  • Empirical thinking: When we use empirical thinking, we judge whether the situation is right or wrong based on our past experiences. Sometimes, this thinking pattern persists on the past criteria too much, even if a situation has changed. But when it comes to our daily lives, situations do not change frequently. Further, if we have the experience of the identical situation before, we can utilize the experience as a reliable knowledge data base.

Thinking patterns for thinking processes

Humans are different from animal because they have thinking ability and also have ability to solve their problems. During the course of problem-solving, we should have to think systematically which helps us to stick with the problem-solving attitude. The systematic thinking processes such as rational thinking, systems thinking, cause & effect thinking, and contingent thinking.

Rational thinking

Rational thinking is one of the most common Problem Solving methods. There are seven rational thinking method:

  1. Set the ideal situation
  2. Identify a current situation
  3. Compare the ideal situation and the current situation, and identify the problem situation
  4. Break down the problem to its causes
  5. Conceive the solution alternatives to the causes
  6. Evaluate and choose the reasonable solution alternatives
  7. Implement the solutions

Systems thinking

It is scientific Problem Solving approach. We set the system, which causes problems and analyze them based on systems functions. The following are the system and how the system works.


  • Purpose
  • Input
  • Output
  • Function
  • Inside cause (Solvable cause)
  • Outside cause (Unsolvable cause)
  • Result

In order to realize Purpose, we prepare Input and through Function we can get Output. But Output does not necessarily realize Purpose. Result of the Function may be different from Purpose. This difference is created by Outside Cause and Inside Cause. We cannot solve Outside Cause but we can solve Inside Cause. For example, when we want to play golf, Purpose is to play golf. If we cannot play golf, this situation is Output. If we cannot play golf because of a bad weather, the bad weather is Outside Cause, because we cannot change the weather. In contrast, if we cannot play golf because we left golf bags in our home, this cause is solvable. Then, that we left bags in our home is an Inside Cause. It is a very clear and useful method to solve problems.

Cause & effect of thinking

Traditionally, we like to clarify cause and effect relations. We usually think of finding causes as solving problems. Finding a cause and effect relation is a conventional basic Problem Solving method.

Contingent thinking

Game Theory is a typical contingent thinking method. If we think about as many situations as possible, which may happen, and prepare solutions for each situation, this process is a contingent thinking approach.

Thinking patterns for efficient thinking

In order to think efficiently, there are several useful thinking patterns. Here, we will discuss five patterns for efficient thinking such as hypothesis thinking, conception thinking, structure thinking, convergence & divergence thinking, and time order thinking.

Hypothesis thinking

If we can collect all information quickly and easily, you can solve problems very efficiently. But actually, we cannot collect every information. If we try to collect all information, we need so long time. Hypothesis thinking does not require collecting all information. We develop a hypothesis based on available information. After we developed a hypothesis, we collect minimum information to prove the hypothesis. If the first hypothesis is right, you do not have to collect any more information. If the first hypothesis is wrong, we will develop the next hypothesis based on available information. Hypothesis thinking is a very efficient problem-solving method, because we do not have to waste time to collect unnecessary information.

Conception thinking

Problem Solving is not necessarily logical or rational. Creativity and flexibility are other important aspects for Problem Solving. We cannot recognize these aspects clearly. This report shows only what kinds of tips are useful for creative and flexible conception. Following are portions of tips.

  • To be visual.
  • To write down what we think.
  • Use cards to draw, write and arrange ideas in many ways.
  • Change positions, forms, and viewpoints, physically and mentally.

We can imagine without words and logic, but in order to communicate to others, we must explain by words and logic. Therefore after we create ideas, we must explain them literally. Creative conception must be translated into reasonable explanations. Without explanations, conception does not make sense.

Structure thinking

If we make a structure like a tree to grasp a complex situation, we can understand very clearly. Upper level should be more abstract and lower level should be more concrete. Dividing abstract situations from concrete situations is helpful to clarify the complex situations. Very frequently, problem solvers cannot arrange a situation clearly. A clear recognition of a complex situation increases efficiency of Problem Solving.

Convergence & divergence thinking

When we should be creative we do not have to consider convergence of ideas. In contrast, when we should summarize ideas we must focus on convergence. If we do convergence and divergence simultaneously, Problem Solving becomes inefficient.

Time order thinking

Thinking based on a time order is very convenient, when we are confused with Problem Solving. We can think based on a time order from the past to the future and make a complex situation clear.

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