Five Ways to Solve Tough Problems

Five Ways to Solve Tough Problems

Solving problems – the really tough problems – takes fortitude, insight and wisdom. Tough problems are tough because its difficult to think outside the box. It is often difficult to escape the current situation.

McKinsey provides us with 5 ways to solve tough problems, that they call flexons – “flexible objects for generating novel solutions.”  Stated more simply – flexons are methodologies for finding a solution.

  • Networks – engaging the broader social network to understand the social prestige and influence – excellent when problems involve people and social systems.
  • Evolutionary – systematically guessing allowing the fittest answer to survive – great when many small experiments can be conducted quickly such as A/B testing for website design.
  • Decision agent – applying game theory to stakeholder behavior models – good when stakeholders have different value systems
  • Systems dynamics – mapping the major components and their forces amongst themselves (i.e. creating a ecosystem or systems map) – geared towards physical systems
  • Information processing – mapping the flow of information into the problem solving process -the proverbial the solution is only as good as the data applies.

By getting the group to focus on the best methodology  suited to solving the problem, group think is mitigated and solutions become more easily found.

Picture from Martino! @ Flickr

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