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"From Stuck to Solutions: Mastering the IDEAL Problem-Solving Model"

As managers or employees, we are all confronted with various problems in our daily work, such as how to ensure that employees arrive on time, how to build an effective team, how to deal with difficult customers, and how to handle unexpected changes, like COVID. According to scholar Van Gowdy, a problem is a gap between the current situation and the desired state, and solving a problem means closing that gap to achieve the desired state.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with a problem, but by keeping a clear head and utilizing simple problem-solving models, we can easily find a solution. Scholars Bransford and Stein proposed the "IDEAL" problem-solving model, which comprises five steps.

I (Identify) - Define the problem. To solve the problem effectively, you need to identify the root cause. You can imagine yourself as a Chinese medicine doctor, using the four methods of observation, listening, asking, and diagnosing(望聞問切) to understand the nature of the problem. Through careful observation, attentive listening, and appropriate questioning, you can gather more information related to the problem and help you decide how to approach it.

D (Design) - Develop a solution. Once you have identified the problem, you can start developing a solution. A problem often has multiple solutions. At this stage, it is recommended to use "brainstorming" with relevant departments/colleagues to gather all possible solutions to the problem and record them systematically for evaluation in the next step.

E (Evaluate) - Evaluate the solution. After identifying different solutions, you need to evaluate each one, including its benefits and costs, resource requirements (such as manpower, materials, and finances), and its impact on different departments or processes. Depending on these considerations, the organization's culture, environment, and time frame, you may make different choices.

A (Action) - Take action. After choosing a solution, the next step is to take action. There is a saying that "99 heartbeats are not as good as one action." (九十九次心動不及一次行動) Without action, there will be no results. Some people want to solve problems but are afraid to do so, lacking the power to take action despite having the desire. Therefore, the problem-solving plan must specify the steps, manpower, and time frame needed to solve the problem. Through clear communication, you can take proactive action.

L (Learn) - Review and learn. The Chinese have a saying, "Experience is the mother of wisdom." By reviewing and learning from the experience and sharing it with others, we can effectively enhance our problem-solving abilities. After each problem is solved, ask yourself the following questions: What have I learned? What have I done right or wrong? How can I improve? With this continuous learning process, we can become better problem solvers and develop effective solutions.

One of my psychology teachers once says that this world is not perfect. Every day, we face different problems related to family, career, education, interpersonal relationships, and more. However, we can still actively face the problems in front of us by using the "IDEAL" problem-solving model introduced in this article. I believe that by utilizing this model, we can take one step closer to an ideal world.

DESIGN : "SCAMPER" Creativity Tool for Generating Ideas

從瓶頸到解方案:IDEAL 解難模式大揭秘

身為管理人或打工仔,相信每天工作必定遇到不少的問題,例如 「

何令員工準時上班」、「如何建立一個有效的團隊」、「如何處理麻煩的客戶」、「如何應付突如其來的轉變」例如新冠流感等等。根據學者Van Gowdy指出,難題是指現時狀態與理想的預期有所差距,而解決難題,就是把這差拿開,以達至理想的狀態。

很多人遇到難題都會手忙腳亂,甚至不知所措。其實只要我們保持頭腦清淅,運用一些簡單的解決問題的模型,難題很容易便迎刃而解。學者 Bransford和 Stein曾提出解決技巧的模型。稱之為「IDEAL」,由五個英文字母組成,代表解決過程五個步驟:

I (Identify) – 界定問題。要對症下藥,解決問題,你必須清楚瞭解問題的癥結所在,你可以想像自己是一個中醫師,透過「望」、「 聞」、「問」、「切」四個步驟去瞭解問題的性質。經仔細的觀察,細心的聆聽,適當的發問,你會掌握更多問題相關的資料,以幫助你去決定(切)處理這個問題的方向。

D (Design) – 制定解決方法 – 當你確定問題後,你便可以開始制定解決方案。一個問題往往有超個一個的解決方法,在這個階段,筆者建議各位使用「大腦激盪法」集合與問題相關的部門 / 同事,集思廣益,搜集(Brainstorming) 解決問題的所有方法,並整齊的記錄,以方便下一步的評估。

E (Evaluation) – 評估方法。有了不同的方案後,我們便需要對每個方案作出評估,評估範圍包括方案的利與幣,所需的資源包括人,物資,金錢,對不同部門 / 流程運作的影響。每個問題因應以上的考慮,加上機構的文化,所處的環境和時間,都有可能作出不同的選擇。

A (Action) – 確定方案後,下一步便是行動。筆者曾經聽過這句金句 「九十九次的心動,不及一次的行動。」沒有行動便沒有結果,有些人很想解決問題,但卻害怕解決問題,有心力但卻無採取行動的力量,所以解決方案中必須確定解決問題的步驟, 人力資源及時限,透過清淅溝通,便可以積極採取行動。

L (Learn) – 回顧和學習- 中國人有句說話「經一事,長一智」,同樣地透過每次解決問題的過程和結果,只要每次進行檢討回顧,並把學習的經驗儲備和與別人分享,相信必能有效地加強解決問題的能力,不訪在每次解決問題後問問自己以下兩個問題 (一) 在這次經驗中,我學到了甚麼 (二) 在下次遇到同樣的情況,我將會怎樣處理。


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