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 a 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.
When faced with a
problem, I use any of many problem-solving strategies to guide my
problem-solving process. Problem-solving is a relatively complicated process.
For this reason, the problem-solving process is usually divided into a sequence
of steps that when followed allow one to move from a problem definition to a
clear and specific solution to the problem. In this paper, I illustrate the
usage of one such method by examining a sample scenario and attempting to
identify and solve the problem therein using the technique. For this paper, I
use Einstein’s method of problems solving.
Analyzing the Problem
Einstein’s method of
problem-solving is unlike most methods of problem-solving in that it focuses on
trying to understand the problem and spends very little time on the
problem-solving part of the process. According to Einstein, with one hour to
solve a problem, a person should spend the first 55 minutes trying to
understand the problem and then spend the last five minutes implementing a
solution. Following his line of reasoning, the problem-solving process becomes
divided into two broad stages – defining the problem and solving your problem.
Since more focus is laid on the first stage, several methods are available for
trying to analyze the problem.
The article in
litemind.com provides a variety of tools and strategies for analyzing the
problem. For my purposes, I use the two strategies of chunking up and chunking
down. Chunking up involves getting a general view of the problem. It entails
asking general questions such as “What do I intend to do?” For my
chosen scenario, the general problem is relatively easy to understand. I need
to organize myself so that I can accomplish most – if not all – of the tasks in
my schedule. I have many things to do and too little time to do them. Once I’ve
established this, I chunk down, that is, I try to identify what specific
problems constitute this larger more general problem. The particular problems I
identified were that I had two jobs, one which I went to every weekday from 9
am to 6 pm and another which I worked on Saturdays from 3 pm to 11 pm.
Additionally, I had classes every day from 6 pm to 10 pm and another one I did
online. These were the tasks with which I could not compromise especially in
regards to the time in which I did them. However, I also had to manage a
fundraiser for my son’s band and coach for my daughter’s soccer team. My
daughter has an upcoming soccer tournament, and my son has an upcoming band
concert. I also have two assignments to deliver the same week as the two
events. I need to consider my parents’ transportation as well as my
deteriorating health. Gathering additional data would be useful in the next
stage. Useful data would include, the constraints and opportunities I have at
Solving the Problem
illustrated in litemind.com does not focus very much on the problem-solving
aspect of the process. However, the last strategy mentioned states that after
successfully analyzing the problem any of the nine problem definition
strategies, we could then proceed to problem-solving. This stage would involve
identifying and implementing the most suitable solution using the information
that is now available. Since my goal is to do the most with the little time and
help I have, I would have to assign each task a particular time slot.
Additionally enlisting help would help lessen the burden on me and my health.
One solution would be to study my online coursework, do my assignments and
engage in some exercise in the period between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. Then, when
going to work, I could pick up my parents and drop them off wherever they need
to be. I could then ask my husband or my closest sibling to pick them up later
in the day since I would be occupied till 10 o’clock. Afterwards, on the
weekends, I could coach my daughter’s football team and do the fundraising for
my son’s band concert. Any time left would be spent relaxing.
When attempting to
understand the problem, I could choose to rephrase my problem question. For
instance, instead of trying to find out how to do the most with the little time
I have, I could choose instead to ask how best to ask what areas should I prioritize
and what should I consider dropping entirely or at the very least delegating?
Reframing the question like this would result in a different set of solutions
altogether. One solution would include prioritizing family finances, family
time and my health respectively. Following this line of thought, the most
important tasks would be my paid jobs, spending time at home and supporting my
children’s hobbies. This method, however, involves letting go of my plans to
get a degree in the next two years.
Discussion of Methods Usefulness
illustrated above would be suitable for many situations. It would be especially
useful in cases where the problem in question is open-ended and very vague.
Interestingly, most real-world problems fall into this category. Most problems
we encounter in the real world have a variety of tenable solutions. Depending
on how one looks at the problem, it is possible to arrive at a different
conclusion regarding how to go about solving it. This method is therefore
applicable since a great deal of effort and time is spent attempting to
understand the problem with a little time being given to the actual execution
of the solution.
There are several
ways to go about solving a problem. Most of these methods involve going through
a series of steps, from identifying the problem right through to finally
solving the problem. In trying to solve the problem in my chosen problem
scenario, I used Einstein’s method of problem-solving. This technique involves
focusing on understanding the problem and evaluating solutions and spending
only a little at the execution stage of problem-solving. Using this method, I
successfully analyzed and solved the problem presented in the problem scenario.
I found that the method could be used for a variety of other situations one is
likely to encounter in the real world.
Einstein’s Secret to
Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It). (n.d.).
Retrieved November 10, 2017, from Litemind:
Conflict and Effective Communication. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2017, from
DRB Alternatives: http://www.drbalternatives.com/articles/cc2.html
Mullen, T. (n.d.).
Trident University Writing Guide. Retrieved June 20, 2016, from Trident University:
The Problem Solving
Process. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from The Global Development
Research Center: http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html