Problems are part of daily life. These serve as challenges and tools in the various actions and situations that people experience. In an organizational setting, problems at work are inevitable. Work issues can be experienced by any employee, but the bulk of the problem-solving and decision-making falls in the hands of supervisors and managers. Deciding for a choice that would benefit everyone in the team is a crucial role of a manager. Yet, for individual problems, autonomous approach must be practiced.
The steps involved in solving a problem and making a decision are pretty much similar. The process starts out with identifying the issue or the problem, and the same procedures follow after that. A rational approach is followed when making a decision as a solution to a problem. However, there are also distinctions between problem analysis and decision making, which will be further discussed in this article.
Differences between Problem Analysis and Decision Making
Not all decisions required are brought about by problems. There are situations wherein an opportunity needs to be seized, so a decision has to be made. But in cases wherein problems arise, one must be able to analyze the problem first before a decision is achieved. Below shows the differences between problem analysis and decision making:
- The performance must be studied in order to compare the ideal from the actual results
- Problems exist as a digression of the performance requirements
- Problems should be accurately identified
- Problems may be caused by an alteration of a feature
- The problems caused may be reduced after changes are identified during the problem analysis
- Goals must be identified
- Goals must be properly prioritized
- There must be alternatives available
- Each alternative must be gauged against the criteria
- The alternative that meets all the requirements becomes the most feasible option
- The most feasible alternative is evaluated again for possible consequences
- The decision is implemented and monitoring is required
Steps in Problem Solving and Decision Making
1. Identify the problem
All existing problems have root causes, so the initial step is to determine what causes the problem or where it is rooted from. Learning the possible causes is important in order to fully understand why the problem came up. Some people fail to understand the problem because of the manner of reacting to the existence of it. Make sure to complete the following steps in identifying the problem:
a. Determining complex problems
b. Confirming complete understanding of the problem
c. Prioritizing the problems
d. Finding out your role in the problem
2. List the potential alternatives that may solve the problem
In a workplace setting, everyone involved in dealing with the problem has to brainstorm for the possible choices for resolution. With brainstorming, ideas are gathered and evaluated for probability.
3. Choose a feasible approach for resolving the problem
In doing this step, a few considerations should be:
a. The longevity of the approach
b. The resources available
d. Possible risks for each alternative
4. Implement and choose the most promising alternative
This step involves the action plans for the chosen alternative.
5. Monitor and evaluate the implementation
A good tool to use in monitoring would be a set of criteria for gauging whether the decision made is good or bad. Part of this step is to confirm if the problem has been resolved or not.
The Pros and Cons Method
This approach is very useful and effective to both problem solving and decision making. It is a simple method of identifying the advantages and disadvantages of the problem or the cause for the decision. There are decisions that only require simple choices of selling something or not, getting that job or not, buying that item or not, getting the career promotion or not, and the like. Complex decisions require laying out the options for a wider selection of alternatives. The same thing is true when dealing with complex problems or issues.
The pros and cons method makes the resolution and decision making process more objective in approach instead of simply relying on intuitions and instincts, which can sometimes be faulty.