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Open-Ended Problems

 

First Steps in Solving Open-Ended Problems
From Strategies for Creative Problem Solving by H. Scott Fogler and Steven E. LeBlanc, 1995

  1. Write an initial problem statement.
    Include information on what you
    are to solve, and consider why you
    need to solve the problem.

  2. Make sure you are proceeding to solve the real
    problem as opposed to the perceived problem
    (chapter 3). Carry out one or more of the following:

    1. Find out where the problem came from
    2. Explore the problem
    3. Apply the Duncker Diagram
    4. Use the statement-restatement technique
    5. Apply Problem Analysis

  3. Generate solutions (chapter 4)

    1. Understand what conceptual blocks can occur
      so that you will be aware of them when they surface.

      1. Perceptual
      2. Emotional
      3. Cultural
      4. Environmental
      5. Intellectual
      6. Expressive

    2. Brainstorm
      1. Free association
      2. Osbornís Check List
      3. Lateral Thinking
        1. Random Stimulation
        2. Other People's Views

    3. Analogy
      1. State the problem
      2. Generate analogies
      3. Solve the analogy
      4. Transfer the analogy to the solution

    4. Organize the ideas/solutions that
      have been generated.
      1. Fishbone Diagram

    5. Cross Fertilize
      1. Draw analogies from other disciplines

    6. Futuring. Today's constraints (e.g. computing
      speed, communications) may be limiting the
      generation of creative solutions. Think to the
      future when these constraints may no longer exist.
      Remove all possible constraints from the problem
      statement and solution criteria.

    7. Incubate. Take a break. Let your subconscious
      work on the problem while you do something else.
      Sometimes all you need is a breather to achieve that
      final breakthrough!

  4. Choose best alternative from the ideas generated (chapter 5)

    1. Decision Making
      1. Musts
      2. Wants
      3. Adverse Consequences

    2. Planning

      1. Potential Problem
      2. Consequences
      3. Preventative Action
      4. Contingent Action

  5. Follow Through (chapter 6)
    1. Gantt Chart
    2. Deployment Chart
    3. Evaluation - Is the problem you are
      solving still relevant?

  6. Evaluate (chapter 7)

    1. Does the solution satisfy all the
      stated and implied criteria?
    2. Is the solution safe to people
      and property?
    3. Is the solution ethical?

 

See an example of the OEP Algorithm in action, as applied to the Cobra Problem from the Chemical Reaction Engineering Web Site.

 

Bloom's Taxonomy can help you classify your problem and determine a method of attack.

 


CRE > Thoughts > OEP > First Steps