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Key skills: making a difference
Key skills: making a difference

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8.5.1 Generate a variety of ways of tackling problems

Where the best way, or, indeed, any way, of tackling a problem is not obvious, there are a number of tools and techniques which can be useful to stimulate ideas and different ways of thinking:

  • reasoning: reaching conclusions or deciding on paths of action by means-end analysis or critical-path analysis;

  • matching: recognising similarities with other situations, drawing analogies, adapting solutions that have worked or shown promise elsewhere;

  • fluency: using your imagination to come up with ideas, such as in brainstorming or group sessions;

  • collaborative: getting others to contribute, for example by allocating roles and responsibilities in a team, or by involving a tutor, manager, colleague or client in discussions;

  • written and visual: text or diagrams showing relationships, for example, concept maps, spray diagrams, graphs and charts;

  • number: analysis involving calculations, such as summary statistics, graphs, correlation and regression analysis;

  • physical: using 2D- and 3D-models and designs to illustrate shapes and spatial relationships;

  • consulting: gathering information from others affected by the problem as well as from specialists and experts, as necessary, through discussions, surveys and interviews; and

  • risk-limiting: establishing the least risky approach, such as, for example, using decision trees, or pay-off matrices.

Time out

Note ideas as they occur to you, and also note down the circumstances in which they were produced. You may find that you generate ideas more easily in some situations than others, for example when you are writing, or talking with others.