Problem Solving 2.0

a next generation approach

This site is designed to enhance problem solving capability in organizations. As a nation —  as a nation of businesses — we face problems of greater complexity, with often torturous histories, with larger and more contentious sets of stakeholders, and sometimes with painful tradeoffs rather than clean solutions.

This site is supported by Jerry L. Talley; it is one of several key concepts that make up his practice. You can check out his entire offering at his site. You can also take advanage of office hours with Jerry if you want to explore a particular problem using this model.

What is Problem Solving 2.0? And what was so wrong with Problem Solving 1.0?

Most problem solving in today's organizations is under a classic model, let's call it Problem Solving 1.0. This model is a set of tools for helping groups work together. It includes tools for encouraging creativity, managing differences of opinion, exploring options, making tough choices, cultivating consensus, and the like. It is wrapped around a linear, rational model of seeking out causes and changing them. It is a good start, and we need something much stronger.

Problem Solving 2.0 is about truly understanding problems better. As valuable as group consensus may be, it has the risk of appearing like progress, when it is only agreement on a narrow or biased view. The term 'GroupThink' was coined to highlight the downside of over emphasizing consensus and teamwork to the detriment of incisive thought. With greater problem complexity, the chance of consensus around a faulty understanding of the situation becomes more likely ... and more dangerous.

With a more sophisticated understanding of the essential nature of a given problem, we do not have to choose.  We can build a process that addresses both the essence of the problem and the best process for supporting those trying to solve it.

What is the unique perspective of this site?

Our fundamental premise is that there are only 6 types of problems. And each type requires a different approach to finding a robust solution. And each type calls for a unique type of solution. As a result, determining the essential nature of a problem is the first and most powerful decision to be made in problem solving.

A significant portion of the site defines these 6 types and how each type can be resolved.

This belief in the small number of essential problem types comes from the combined practical experience of several colleagues. Our combined experience covers almost every segment of the economy, and spanning decades of experience. In 20 years of developing this model, we have yet to find a situation that demands a 7th problem type.

The ideas presented are applicable in other arenas (marital therapy, public policy, social issues, etc.) but the focus will be on organizational problem solving for now.

What are some of the questions we will answer?