Solving a Puzzle

Puzzles are the basic problem type. We are confident there is a solution, even though it may be hard to find and implement. Previous experience of experts are likely to provide valuable help.

Solution Outline
  • It works! It whirrs, lights up, turns on, flies, drives away, hums, whatever we expected it would do.
  • Pre-existing solutions have been used where possible
  • There is high confidence that the solution is adequate if not the best available
  • The solution was reached through acceptable if not standard methods.
  • The problem solving team is freed up to work on some new problem.
  • Relations among problme solvers are enhanced, or at least not damaged.

How To Get There
  • Analyze the data; explore the empirical nature of the situation.
  • Challenge your assumptions about the situation, what makes it problematic, or even whether it should be solved at all.
  • Define the problem
  • Find earlier or similar versions of the problem which might provide clues for the present situation
  • Separate areas requiring novel solutions vs. areas to apply standard solutions
  • Leverage experience, expertise, "best practices", industry standard approaches
  • create options
  • Test solutions
  • Manage implementation

People often assume that Puzzles are straightforward or simple, like solving a crossword puzzle. Puzzles can be large and daunting; the need for novel solutions can easily draw the most rigorous and scientific problem solvers into a frustrating and possibly fruitless search for new "best practices", for new product configurations, new manufacturing processes, or many other challenging tasks. There are even times when "best practices" are a bad strategy. Since "best practices" tend to become ubiquitous very quickly, they offer no strategic advantage. If all your competitors are doing something in a particular way, then perhaps it's time for a fresh approach.