Thinking Skills And Problem Solving Business Essay

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Each and every day, humans make decisions. Though most decisions (such as breathing and blinking) are made subconsciously, humans often take an active role in the decision making process. Humans decide what shoes they are going to wear, what radio station they are going to listen to, and how they are going to get to work each day just to name a few.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary the term decision making means - the process of deciding about something important, especially in a group of people or in an organization. Trewatha and Newport (1982) defines decision making process as follows, "Decision-making involves the selection of a course of action from among two or more possible alternatives in order to arrive at a solution for a given problem"

Every organization needs to make decisions at one point or other as part of managerial process. Decisions are made in the best interest of the organization. For that matter, decisions made by the organization are to lighten the way forward. Be it strategic, business activities or HR matters, processes of making decisions is complex, involves professionals of different genre. While small organization involves all levels of managers, complex organizations largely depend on a team of professionals specially trained to make all sorts of decisions. Decision making process is cumulative and consultative process. The process, on the whole, bears its pros and cons and would by and large emanate results and consequences in the organizations' overall growth and prospects.

Decisions are taken to support organizational growth. The whole fabric of management, i.e. its day to day operation is rightly built on managerial decisions. Top notch companies, as evidenced by their functions, effective communication tools are utilized in addition to normal consultation process to make decisions that would have large scale implications on the company's prospects.

Discussions and consultations are two main tools that support and eventually bring out decisions. For instance to take a decision on how to embark on new business activity suggested by strategic management team must have developed through series of consultative process, which is now available with implementation team. Here we see the cumulative effect of decision taken at one point by a different body of affairs. Decision taken by strategic managers is to push new and innovative business line or initiative. At this point the decision taken by such team becomes consultative point for discussion for implementation professionals.

Thus, the final decision to roll out a product or service is through cumulative interim decisions taken by various internal and external parties. And also the final decision is reflective and founded on researches and consultations. Whole process is a chain affair where one decision taken at one point and at one level shall have far reaching implications in the way an organization moves forward.

As a matter of fact, capable of taking critical decisions are one of the many attributes that every manager should have, be it top level or middle or entry level. By nature a human being during his existence and by virtue of his instinct makes decisions for his survival, as social psychologists put it. By and large, managers are polished individuals to take decisions to affect others, i.e. the organization's existence and growth thus is annotative with human endeavor to live and succeed. Success succeeds on the decisions taken, be it by an individual or an organization.

Same goes to RoMystar College (RMC) which is a private educational institution, specialize mainly in engineering programs to cater the highly emerging students who have interest in this particular field.

2.0 Importance of Decision Making In Management

RoMystar College (RMC) has to implement these steps to improve their decision making from top to bottom, meaning from leaders to employers following the chain of command to make management to be more efficient in future.

2.1. Better Utilization of Resources

Decision making helps to utilize the available resources for achieving the objectives of the organization. The available resources are the 6 M's, i.e. Men, Money, Materials, Machines, Methods and Markets. The manager has to make correct decisions for all the 6 Ms. This will result in better utilization of these resources.

2.2. Facing Problems and Challenges

Decision making helps the organization to face and tackle new problems and challenges. Quick and correct decisions help to solve problems and to accept new challenges.

2.3. Business Growth

Quick and correct decision making results in better utilization of the resources. It helps the organization to face new problems and challenges. It also helps to achieve its objectives. All this results in quick business growth. However, wrong, slow or no decisions can result in losses and industrial sickness.

2.4. Achieving Objectives

Rational decisions help the organization to achieve all its objectives quickly. This is because rational decisions are made after analyzing and evaluating all the alternatives.

2.5. Increases Efficiency

Rational decisions help to increase efficiency. Efficiency is the relation between returns and cost. If the returns are high and the cost is low, then there is efficiency and vice versa. Rational decisions result in higher returns at low cost.

2.6. Facilitate Innovation

Rational decisions facilitate innovation. This is because it helps to develop new ideas, new products, new process, etc. This results in innovation. Innovation gives a competitive advantage to the organization.

2.7. Motivates Employees

Rational decision results in motivation for the employees. This is because the employees are motivated to implement rational decisions. When the rational decisions are implemented the organization makes high profits. Therefore, it can give financial and non-financial benefits to the employees.

3.0 PROBLEM SOLVING TOOLS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

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3.1. BRAINSTORMING

Brainstorming is a technique used in a group situation to enable participants to generate as many ideas about a situation as possible, in a short time as possible. A successful brainstorming session will promote creativity, create excitement and motivation, reduce 'boundaries' and help develop commitment. There are two ways in which a brainstorm can be used, either Structured or Unstructured. Structured is where everyone in the team is asked to contribute an idea in turn, passing if they dry up, until everyone has exhausted their mind out of ideas. Unstructured is where everyone in the team just shouts out their ideas as they occur to them, again until everyone has exhausted their ideas. Either way, the basic rules and guidelines are the same. Firstly, clearly state the issue under consideration. Next is, identify one person to record all the ideas on a flipchart and keep the flip charted comments visible to all. A group of four to ten people is optimal because it can avoid judgment or criticism of the ideas either verbal or non-verbal, encourage complete freewheeling and ideas association, 'silly' ideas are just as valid, all ideas are recorded without interpretation, generate as many ideas as possible and everyone should have an equal opportunity to contribute. For example, all the head of departments can sit together and brainstorm all the possible way to tackle the students' interest in learning using technology. All possible answers or solution can be done collectively and the best one can be chosen by all without bias because all ideas are given by the member and supported by them also.

3.2. CHECKSHEETS

A Check sheet (Tally Chart, Tick Chart) is one of a variety of tools used to simply record data, usually in the form of the number of times something happens, helping to detect patterns in the occurrences. Checksheets are particularly useful when more than one person is involved in the collection of the data, ensuring consistency in the data recorded and its presentation.

The exact design of the chart used will be specific to the type of data being gathered and the purpose for which it is being gathered.

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The steps involved is that we have to decide on what data needs to be gathered to be able to show up any patterns, and if the data can be analyzed to give any useful information. Next, design a form which will make the collection of the data easy and clear. After that, test the sheet with someone who was not involved in the design to check that it can be used, and modify it if necessary. Design a separate master tally chart to combine all the data from all the other tally charts being used to gather the data. An important tips is that, talk to those doing the job when designing a chart to gather data about it. Make sure all data collectors are clear about what data is being collected and why

For example, this tool can be used to gather data about the number of programs offered in RMC and come up with strategies to focus on the highest collection of data, so that more ideas can be channeled to improve the particular program.3.3. FLOWCHARTS

A Flowchart is a pictorial representation of the steps involved in a particular process. It can be as simple or as detailed as you like, depending on the reason for drawing in the first place.

2A

2B

Steps:

There are a number of standard symbols used in a flowchart to represent particular parts of the process:

Lines with arrowheads are used to link the elements, to show the flow of the process.

Although a flowchart may be drawn up by an individual, it is best used as a team activity.

The team should consist of those people who really know the process being analyzed, i.e. those actually involved in doing it, regardless of hierarchy. You begin by defining the boundaries of the process, i.e. where you are going to start from and where you will finish. Secondly, identify all the tasks or activities which constitute the process - to a level of detail which makes sense for the understanding you need. Thirdly, place the activities in chronological order, with concurrent activities next to each other and finally, ensure all feedback loops to previous parts of the process are in place.

A small tip which can be used is that we should define the boundaries of the process very clearly and keep the symbols very simple. Next, draw the process as it is in reality, not how you think it would be. If more than one arrow comes out of a 'task' box, consider using a 'decision' diamond and check the validity of the flowchart at regular intervals with others involved in doing the process.

For example, flowchart can be used in identifying students' welfare problems and solving it creatively. The management can use this tool by introducing a problem and come up with various solution and at the end they can get the desired answers as the flow goes. For instance, students' education loan problem can be easily solved by using this tool.

3.4. PROBLEM DEFINITION SHEET

The Problem Definition Sheet is a tool for developing your understanding of the problem that is to be addressed.

In essence it is a simple table requiring the team to outline their understanding of the who, what when, where, how of the situation, both for how it is now, and how they want it to be in the future. By driving down to specifics, the Problem Definition Sheet does much to drive out basic misunderstandings and hidden agendas. The actual layout of the Problem Definition Sheet is shown below: 1

There is four steps involved in this process. Firstly, start with the left hand column. Secondly, outline clearly the teams understanding of, the current problem and who is affected by it, quantification of how they are affected, where the problem arises and the cost implications of the problem. Thirdly, the team should seek to reach common agreement on all these points, and should gather data to resolve disagreements. Every attempt should be made to depersonalize the data in order to keep the process objective. Finally, the team should then work through the right hand column and outline their vision for solving the problem of what the final situation should be and who will benefit from it, how they will benefit, when they will benefit, where those benefits will arise and the financial expectations of those benefits.

For example, this tool can be used to address the weakness and try to overcome the weakness in future by writing about the possible solution which can be taken. RMC can definitely use this to determine their weakness in certain sectors as employment and recruitment, and also intake of students enroll in RMC.

Furthermore, RMC can take account on managing big groups by implementing de Bono's 'six hats'. For example, meetings or group sessions frequently get bogged down in arguments when people take firm positions and defend them to the death. The 'six hats' strategy is a co-operative, rather than an adversarial tool. In a team or meeting context, it can be easy for someone not to see the positives of an idea or initiative they don't support, but the 'six hats' technique challenges participants to see all sides of a problem. de Bono describes the 'six hats' as a 'game', but despite its simplicity, his method is very powerful and is used extensively in industry and the professions. This is how it works. Each of the six hats has a different color, with each hat representing a perspective, or way of thinking. Ask each student in the group to 'put on' different hats in a sequence to encourage them to adopt different perspectives. It is important that the hats do not categories or label people. Rather than limiting people, the aim of this strategy is to get the thinker/problem solver to use all six hats and broaden their horizons.

4.0 CONCLUSION

All this tools can clearly help RMC to overcome the problem, survive and excel in this fast growing world where they can compete with other institutions competitively. All told, organizations should strive to develop a comprehensive problem-solving and implementation strategy that increases the speed and likelihood of resolution and allows everyone within the organization to assume successful problem solving responsibilities. This problem-solving strategy should be balanced and flexible and include multiple structured method options so as to increase effectiveness and speed to resolution. Effective problem solvers appreciate the importance of having organized approaches for problem solving.

Orderly methods contribute positively to efficient and timely problem resolution and increase the odds of a successful implementation. Equally important as having a set process empowered and inspired people are critical to problem-solving success. Without positive interpersonal interaction, problem-solving is usually fruitless. Together, high-performing people and an effective process combine to create a problem solving environment that produces results.

Without attention to the needs of people, problem-solving efforts can fall short. With collaboration as an essential ingredient for effective problem solving, creating a supportive environment for problem solving becomes a critical element for success.

In summary, problem-solving culture:

â- Builds trust

Lack of trust compounds any problem through hidden agendas, poor communication, and widespread suspicion. Where trust prevails, people find it easier to work together and approach problems objectively. As a result, people are more willing to make the collective effort necessary to solve shared problems.

â- Leverages what people do well

It's rare to encounter a problem that no one on your team has seen before. Every team has untapped strengths-skills, talents, experience, contacts, and access to resources. Leveraging those strengths and building on past success can reveal shortcuts to solutions, as well as prepare a team to take on more and bigger problems.

â- Encourages innovation and measured risk

Real breakthroughs rarely occur in an organization that punishes sincere but failed attempts at innovation. When people are encouraged to try new things and when earnest mistakes are treated as opportunities to learn, then creative problem solving becomes the rule and not the exception. By attending to stakeholders' needs and developing effective relationships, the organization can develop a culture that builds trust, leverages what people do well, and encourages innovation and measured risk.

(2922 words)

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