When faced with a problem, what do you do to solve it? In this SLP assignment you will apply a systematic approach to problem solving. SLP 1 is divided into two (2) parts. In Part I, of the assignment, you will read three (3) articles that present variations on step-by-step problem solving strategies and then select one (1) of these strategies; you will engage in pre-writing to develop a solution to a problem scenario. In Part II of the assignment, you will present a synthesis of your ideas about solving the problem. As Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”
Preparation and Pre-writing: Follow the steps below to explore a problem through reading and writing –
1. Choose one (1) of the problem scenarios as a topic choice for your paper
Scenario 1: You have worked at your company for eleven (11) years. You have returned to college to earn a Bachelor’s degree in order to increase your chances for a promotion. You are nearly finished with your degree; a supervisor’s position in a competing company becomes available in another state. The start date is in two (2) weeks, during your final exam period for your courses. The position offers a $15,000 per year salary increase, a car allowance, and relocation expenses. Your former supervisor works for the company and is recommending you for the position based on your outstanding job performance; if you want the job, it’s yours. All of the other supervisors at this level in the company have Master’s degrees. You know that you would be expected to earn your Bachelor’s degree and continue on to a Master’s degree. Your present company offers tuition reimbursement, but the new company does not.
Scenario 2: Your child comes home from school with an assignment sheet for a school project. He / she is very excited about the project and begins work immediately, doing research on the Internet and gathering materials. You read over the assignment sheet and notice that your child is not including all of the required items in the project, and you have some ideas for how to improve the quality of the presentation. You recently read an article in a parenting magazine about the importance of a child developing responsibility for his / her own learning. You recall the many ways in which your parents took over your school projects. You, on the other hand, want to encourage your child’s confidence in his / her ability to complete a project independently. The next day, you are at the grocery store when you see a parent of a student in your child’s class. That parent has spent over $30 in supplies for the science project and is taking a day off of work to put the pieces of the project together.
Scenario 3: You have two jobs—one during the week from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and one on Saturday from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. You are taking two classes—one that meets from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, and one class online. You have two kids—one who plays soccer, and one who is in band. You have two elderly parents who no longer drive. You have two siblings—one who lives two (2) miles away, and one who lives in another state. You have two (2) papers due in your classes the same week that one (1) of your children has a soccer tournament, and the other child has a band concert. You are coaching the soccer team, and you are in charge of fundraising for the band. You have a goal to complete your degree in two (2) years. Your doctor tells you that your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and your weight are too high and recommends several medications that cost you nearly $200 per month after your insurance co-pay.
Scenario 4: You are a sales representative for a company that encourages staff to log time in the field and away from the office. You are expected to begin and end your day at the office. You notice that each day when you arrive and return another co-worker is already there, and you wonder whether this person spends most of his / her time at the office. At your weekly sales meeting, you are informed of your co-workers’ outstanding sales performance. You suspect that this co-worker is spending more time flattering the boss instead of working leads in the field, and as a result is getting the best client referrals. Your own sales numbers have steadily decreased since this other sales representative was hired.
2. Read the following articles:
· “Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It),” located at http://litemind.com/problem-definition/
· “The Problem Solving Process,” located at http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html
· “Interpersonal Conflict and Effective Communication,” located http://www.drbalternatives.com/articles/cc2.html
3. Select one (1) of the step-by-step problem solving strategies outlined in one (1) of the articles. Using the chosen problem solving strategy as a model, brainstorm ideas for each of the steps to develop a solution to the problem scenario you chose.
Part II Synthesizing and Writing: Now that you have developed a solution to the problem by pre-writing about your ideas –
Write a paper in which you:
1. Analyze the problem scenario that you have chosen, and organize your analysis into sections that correlate to each step in the selected problem solving strategy.
2. Apply each step within the selected problem solving strategy to related elements of the scenario that you have chosen.
3. Suggest alternative actions to the situation(s) within the scenario that correspond to each of the steps within the selected problem solving strategy.
4. Speculate on whether or not the same problem-solving strategy would be effective if used with different scenarios.
The paper should follow guidelines for clear and organized writing:
· Write at least one paragraph for each of 1-4 above using complete sentences.
· Address main ideas in body paragraphs with a topic sentence and supporting sentences.
· Adhere to standard rules of English grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and spelling.
· After you have reread and edited your paragraphs, add an introductory paragraph and concluding paragraph.
· Your introductory paragraph should begin with a broad sentence such as “There are many approaches to solving any problems…” or “When faced with a problem I find…” Then continue with more specific information about what you will discuss in your paper.
· Your concluding paragraph should summarize your problem solving approach and reflect on the things you have learned from the assignment.
SLP Assignment Expectations
In addition to the above writing guidelines, your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:
1. Center the title, your name, and date on a separate page. Use Times New Roman, 14 point
a. Bold the title only
2. Set Left and Right margins at 1 inch
3. Number the pages
4. Include a References section using the guidelines from the Trident University Writing Style Guide (Mullen, Timothy. 2014. Trident University Writing Guide. Accessed on June 20, 2016 at https://mytlc.trident.edu/index.php). Include this site as a reference in addition to the three articles that you read on problem solving.
5. Upload your document as a Word .doc or .pdf into the Case drop box by the module due date.
Module 1 SLP: Problem-Solving Process Techniques
There are many approaches that can be used to solving a problem, but not as many as there are problems. Problems necessitate the need for decisions. It can be a challenging process especially in a case where the information required is limited. Different people have different approaches to problem solving, some more systematic than others. The method used could determine the solution arrived at, and the quality of that solution. This paper illustrates how to solve a problem systematically following a series of pre-defined steps.
Scenario 1 presents a dilemma on whether to move to a new job or to stay with the current employer. The current company offers tuition reimbursements and is in the home state. The new company offers a supervisor’s position and there is a high chance of getting the job since the former supervisor works there and is giving a good recommendation. Additionally, the position offers $15,000 salary increase, a car allowance, and a relocation allowance since the new location is in a different state. However, the position requires a Master’s degree in addition to a Bachelor’s degree, with no tuition reimbursement. The job in this new company starts in two weeks during one’s Bachelor’s exams. A decision needs to be made on whether to stay with the current employer or to take the new job.
There are various ways to approach this problem. These include using “Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving” (Litemind, 2015), “The Problem Solving Process” presented at www.gdrc.org (GDRC, n.d.), or “Interpersonal Conflict and Effective Communication” by DRB Alternatives, Inc. (DRB Alternatives, Inc., 2016). For this particular problem, the most suitable approach would be “The Problem Solving Process” since it presents a sequence of steps to solve a problem systematically. These steps include problem definition, problem analysis, generating possible solutions, analyzing the solutions, selecting the best solutions, and planning for the next course of actions.
There are a number of possible solutions to the above problem; stay with the old employer, take the new job with the current offer, take the new job and negotiate for tuition reimbursement, or stay at the old job and negotiate for car allowance and higher position.
The first step in the chosen problem-solving process is problem definition. The problem in this case is identifying how much there is to gain or lose if I move to a new job. It could be broken down into sub-problems such as: how long will it take to complete master’s program? Is the salary increment able to cover my living expenses? Do I have commitments that might hinder me from moving across states? This narrows the problem down and makes clear what factors should be considered.
The next step is analyzing the problem defined above. This will include, for instance, considering the benefits of the current job. Some of the benefits include the fact that it is in a home state. I already have friends in the current state and starting over will be a challenge. After analyzing the problem, the possible solutions are either to stay or leave. If I leave, I will be required to complete Master’s degree after my Bachelor’s degree.
The next step is to select the best solution. The advantages of staying are that are I will keep my friends and I will be reimbursed for the tuition expenses. The advantages of moving are that I will get an increase in salary, which will improve my standards of living. I will also have better benefits such as a car allowance and a relocation allowance. Similarly, this is a new position that presents growth in my career and the Master’s degree will be beneficial in the long term in that it will help develop my skills as a supervisor. The best solution will be to move to the new state and take the new job since it will help me grow in my career.
The next step after selecting the best solution will be implementation. This involves accepting the offer in the new state, finding a place to live, completing my Bachelor’s, and registering for my Master’s degree. I will need to resign from the current job. I will also need to specify timeliness for the implementation. For instance, within a three years, I should have completed my Master’s degree.
The problem-solving process used to solve this problem provides a systematic approach to tackle a problem. It encourages interrogation of the problem to enable the problem solver understand the issue at hand. It is methodical and reduces uncertainty in problem solving. This approach can be used in many scenarios to solve different problems, such as managerial decisions, personal problems and many others. This exercise has taught me the importance of breaking down a problem and spending more time on defining the problem. It makes the problem obvious and the solutions easy to find. I would recommend it over any other approach that’s not systematic.
DRB Alternatives, Inc. (2016). Interpersonal Conflict and Effective Communication. Drbalternatives.com. Retrieved from http://www.drbalternatives.com/articles/cc2.html
GDRC. (n.d.). The Problem Solving Process. Gdrc.org. Retrieved from http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html
Litemind. (2015). Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It). Litemind. Retrieved from https://litemind.com/problem-definition/
Mullen, T. (2015). Trident University Writing guide. Trident University. Retrieved from https://mytlc.trident.edu/index.php
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