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Collective approach to problem solving

It's everybody's business

Most novelty stories we’ve seen or read about have one common theme: focusing on novel ideas that can then be utilized to solve the problem at hand or to create a new novel knowledge that helps the entity seeking a solution, regardless of the nature of the entity ( organization, government, political parties, etc).

Research suggests that the best way to do this is by finding the solutions in the collective memory of the groups working on the problem or the project.

Tapping into the group’s or individual’s memory is the key to retrieving all the related information we’ve stored over time and it triggers the kind of thoughts that could be a key in our efforts to develop a unique approach through which we can get the problem solved. The argument here is that whenever we encounter a problem, our brains begin gathering all the details concerning the various aspects of the issue, this info serves as the cue to retrieve other related information, stimulates the latent skills and knowledge we’ve accumulated over time, and eventually enables us to state the problem in different ways; that is, describing it in a variety of ways so we can have an effective if-scenario analysis.

Statement of problem is crucial because it entails the details concerning the key objects and components of the problem, the antecedents of the problem, the motive for solving it, the surrounding circumstances, and more importantly the goal of the collective effort. Each developed statement will assist the people involved in restoring the necessary knowledge that is seemingly irrelevant but fundamentally is related to a specific aspect of the problem. When each participant does so, the problem solving process continues in an effective and creative way, which ultimately leads to reaching a composite solution to the problem at hand.

A problem is an obstacle according to commonly used definitions in management literature. However, there is a wide variety of the types of problems we face, their categorizations depend largely on some critical elements including: the root causes of the problem, the course of evolution of the problem, the extent to which the problem has an effect; some may be considered minor or individual as their impact doesn’t affect many, others may be seen as macro problems. In both cases however, inputs from a larger number of people may help  solve the problem more quickly, but more importantly more efficiently and properly. Why? It is very simple. An individual problem may be at first just a minor or simple, but we should keep in mind that the person facing the problem is part of a larger group. If she/he doesn’t receive help and constructive thoughts that could assist him handling the obstacle, they will end up being a burden on the larger group to which they belong. Therefore, it is always important not to see individual problems as “not my business”. 

A collective approach towards problem solving may be very much needed more than ever before. The world has now become a very small village that is connected via so many communication channels and media outlets. Everybody has a stake, especially in those macro-level problems that the world faces today. One important benefit of addressing problems collectively is that the diversity of inputs and thoughts could produce frameworks and novel insights that would have not been available otherwise. The information and knowledge that each member of any society carries regardless of the size of the society represent a great source of unique knowledge and different insights that could be of value and beneficial use somewhere in the sphere to which it’s holder belongs. Thus, there are always other windows that are open for us as individuals to look through, ask for others’ thoughts, and get some enlightening insights. 

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