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  1. WebCT • Everybody should have access to WebCT by now • Log on at webcourses.dit.ie • If you can’t get onto the course pages just let me know • WebCT will be used for publishing the notes, communicating with the class and for on-line discussions

  2. Problem Solving, Communication & Innovation:Thinkertoys, Force Field Analysis & S.W.O.T. Analysis

  3. Where Do We Go From Here? • Where do we go from here? • Generate some more ideas • Evaluate possible plans of action

  4. Contents • Following on from the brainstorming that we did last week, let’s take a look at some things we can do to help idea generation, and to try to decide which ideas to follow up on • Thinkertoys • False Faces (Reversals) • Cherry Split (Fractionation) • Slice & Dice (Attribute Listing) • Phoenix (Questions) • Force Field Analysis • SWOT analysis

  5. Note About Usefulness • While we are pitching these ideas today as useful in conjunction with brainstorming, they are all useful in their own right as problem solving techniques • Try to keep this in mind as we consider them

  6. False Faces Based on ideas from “Thinkertoys”, Michael Michalko • Oftentimes the basic assumptions on which we build the solutions to problems prove not to be as rock solid as we thought • Reversing assumptions can be a very good way to stir creative thought about a problem • The false faces (or reversals) technique attempts to use this idea

  7. Historical False Faces Example • The predominate think-ing in manufacturing in the early 1900s was “bring the people to the work” • Henry Ford reversed this to say “bring the work to the people” and perfected the assembly line Historical Note: Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line. The assembly line was first patented in America by Ransom Eli Olds in 1901 but had been invented in 1801 by Marc Isambard Brunel (Father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel).

  8. How To Use False Faces • The process of using false faces proceeds as follows: • State your challenge • List your assumptions • Challenge your fundamental assumptions • Reverse each assumption – write down the opposite of each one • What new ideas are generated by the reversal?

  9. False Faces Example 1 • Working for a large search engine company we have collected huge amounts of data on peoples’ search terms – what can we do with this data? • Assumption: We should collect people’s search terms • Reversal: We should not collect people’s search terms • New Idea: Offer a premium service, users of which will not have their data recorded

  10. False Faces Example 2 • Easily distributed digital music is now a fact of life. As workers in a large music publishing company how can we turn this to our advantage? • Assumption: Sell music to people • Reversal: Buy music from people • New Idea: Become a facilitator for new bands, paying them to make their music available for download online

  11. Cherry Split Based on ideas from “Thinkertoys”, Michael Michalko • Simple word association can often be used to generate ideas • This is the basis of the cherry split problem solving technique • By generating a collection of words around a problem we hope to stimulate new ideas using the words and combinations of the words

  12. How To Use Cherry Split • The cherry split technique is used as follows: • State the essence of your problem in two words • Put these two words onto a diagram • Split each word into two attributes associated with that word add these to the diagram • Continuing splitting attributes (adding them to the diagram) until you have a good collection • Examine each attribute for ideas • Try reassembling the attributes

  13. Cherry Split Example • The publisher of a sports magazine had the problem: “How do I extend the market for my sports magazine?” Young Athletes Children School Sports Male Adults Female Individual Subscription Group Magazine Mass Market Advertising Special Markets

  14. Cherry Split Example (cont…) • The publishers connected magazine, children, school, subscription and young athletes together to generate the idea to add a kids section to their magazine and sell subscriptions through schools

  15. Slice & Dice Based on ideas from “Thinkertoys”, Michael Michalko How many faces? • Often by seeing the bigger picture of a problem, we are blinded to the details of the problem • The slice & dice technique attempts to generate new ideas around a problem by focusing on the details of the problem

  16. How To Use Slice & Dice • The process of using slice & dice proceeds as follows: • State your challenge • Analyse the challenge and list as many attributes as possible • Take each attribute, one at a time, and try to think of ways to change or improve it • How can this be accomplished? • Why does it have to be this way?

  17. Generating Attributes • To help think up attributes related to a problem try using the following attribute categories: • Descriptive – colour, shape, sound… • Process – manufacturing, selling, time… • Social – responsibilities, taboos… • Price – retail cost, manufacturing cost… • Ecological – positive/negative effects…

  18. Slice & Dice Example • AB Bacho tools of Sweden wee considering the design of screwdrivers • Using Slice & Dice they came up with the following list of attributes: • Round • Steel shank • Wooden handle • By considering the “manually operated” attribute they invented the Bacho Ergo screwdriver which is designed to be used by both hands and made millions! • Wedge-shaped end • Manually operated • Used for tightening/loosening screws

  19. Phoenix Based on ideas from “Thinkertoys”, Michael Michalko • Using directed questions can be a great way to stimulate new ideas about a problem • But thinking up the right questions can be hard! • Phoenix is a checklist of questions developed by the CIA to encourage agents to look at problems from different angles

  20. How To Use Phoenix • The phoenix technique is used as follows • Write your challenge • Pick questions from the Phoenix list to ask about the challenge • Record your answers

  21. The Phoenix Questions • Why is it necessary to solve the problem? • What benefits will you gain by solving the problem? • What is the unknown? • What is it you don’t yet understand? • What is the information you have? • What isn’t the problem? • Is the information sufficient? Or is it insufficient? Or is it redundant? Or is it contradictory? • Should you draw a diagram of the problem? • What are the boundaries of the problem? • Can you separate the various parts of the problem? What are the relationships of the parts of the problem? • What are the constants of the problem? • Have you seen this problem before? • Have you seen this problem in a slightly different form?

  22. The Phoenix Questions (cont…) • Do you know a related problem? • Can you think of a familiar problem having the same or similar unknown? • Can you restate your problem? More general? More specific? Can the rules be changed? • What are the best , worst and most probable cases you can imagine? • Can you solve the whole problem? Part of the problem? • What would you like the resolution to be? Can you picture it? • How much of the unknown can you determine? • Can you derive something useful form the information that you have? • Have you used all of the information? • Have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem? • Can you separate the steps in the problem-solving process? Can you determine the correctness of each step? • Can you see the result? How many different kinds of results can you see? • How many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?

  23. The Phoenix Questions (cont…) • What have others done? • Can you intuit the solution? Can you check the result? • What should be done? How should it be done? • Where should it be done? • When should it be done? • Who should do it? • What do you need to do at this time? • Who will be responsible for what? • Can you use this problem to solve another problem? • What is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and no other? • What milestones can best mark your progress? • How will you know when you are successful?

  24. Phoenix Summary • The Phoenix questions are not perfect, but are definitely useful • Also useful for more general problem solving • The key is having a list of questions ready and to hand • Consider adding your own questions to the list

  25. Exercises • Try out one of the techniques (maybe false faces followed by cherry split) on each of the following problems – what new ideas can you come up with? • Working for a large search engine company we have collected huge amounts of data on peoples’ search terms – what can we do with this data? • Easily distributed digital music is now a fact of life. As workers in a large music publishing company how can we turn this to our advantage?

  26. Force Field Analysis • Force field analysis is a technique for looking at the forces for and against a decision • A formal method for weighing up pros and cons • Used for many purposes (particularly change management) force filed analysis is useful for: • Determining whether a selected course of action is possible • Determining the actions needed to follow a course of action

  27. Kurt Lewin (1890 – 1947) • Born in 1890 in Mogilno, Poland • Recognized as the founder of modern social psychology • Founded the Research Centre for Group Dynamics at M.I.T. • His work focused on explaining group dynamics and included developing the notions of life-space, action research andthe force field analysis technique

  28. Force Field Analysis Diagram Driving Forces Restraining Forces 5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 5 Decision Statement

  29. Force Field Analysis • To perform a force field analysis perform the following steps • Describe your plan or proposal for change in the middle of the diagram • List all driving forces for change in one column • List all restraining forces against change in the other column • Assign a score from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong) to each force

  30. What Are Forces? • Anything that affects a decision can be considered a force • Typical forces often focus on: • Costs • Staff • Systems/IT • Environmental issues • Always be careful when giving force strengths – don’t fudge it!

  31. Force Field Analysis Example Example taken from www.mindtools.com • Imagine that we are the manager of Dublin County Choppers Ltd and we are considering installing a new machine for spraying motorbike parts – previously a job done by hand • What are the forces affecting this decision?

  32. Force Field Analysis Example (cont…) Example taken from www.mindtools.com Driving Forces Restraining Forces 5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 5 Decision Statement Loss of staff overtime Customers want better paint jobs Staff frightened of new technology Improve speed of production Environmental impact Raise output volumes Cost Control maintenance costs TOTAL: 10 TOTAL: 11 Disruption

  33. What Do We Do With The Analysis? • Once we have carried out our analysis what can we do? • Determine if the project is viable • Is it worth going ahead with the plan? • Try to improve the probability of success: • Increase the strength of the driving forces FOR the project • Decrease the strength of the restraining forces AGAINST the project • Record tasks required to enact changes

  34. Changing The Forces • Force field diagrams can always be revised • Adding new forces • Adjusting force strength based on planned actions • Watch Out: Adjusting one force can often have knock on effects on other forces • For example, if we decide to give our staff some more training to reduce their fear of new technology this will also increase the cost of the project

  35. Returning To Our Example Example taken from www.mindtools.com • We might simply decide that the plan is not worth going ahead with! • However, we might also consider some changes to make the initial plan more viable • Training staff (increase cost, +1) eliminate fear of technology (reduce fear, -2) • Show staff that change is necessary for business survival (new force FOR, +2) • Raise wages to reflect new productivity (cost +1, loss of overtime -2) • Choose environmentally-friendly machines (eliminate environmental impact, -1)

  36. Returning To Our Example (cont…) Example taken from www.mindtools.com Driving Forces Restraining Forces 5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 5 Decision Statement Customers want better engines • Train staff • Show machines are necessary • Raise wages • Enviro-friendly machines Loss of staff overtime Improve speed of production Staff frightened of new technology Raise output volumes Cost Change is necessary Disruption Control maintenancecosts TOTAL: 12 TOTAL: 8

  37. Force Field Analysis Example • Let’s try to do a force field analysis of one of the suggestions classified as excellent after our brainstorming session • “Downloads give concert discounts” • So let’s consider going ahead with the idea that when people pay to download an album they get a discount on upcoming concert tickets for their city

  38. Force Field Analysis Summary • Force field analysis is a formal way in which to record the pros and cons associated with pursuing an idea • It can be used after brainstorming to evaluate ideas considered worth pursuing (or any other decision we have to make) • Force field analysis is quite subjective • It is important that we are honest when listing pros and cons and their strengths as otherwise the analysis becomes a sham

  39. Force Field Analysis Exercise • A mature student is thinking of enrolling in a new evening course • Perform a force field analysis outlining the forces for and against • Evaluate, and if necessary, modify your plan

  40. S.W.O.T. Analysis • Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats • Used for many tasks (often to review high-level strategy), SWOT analysis can be used to evaluate promising ideas emerging out of a brainstorming session “The SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for understanding and decision-making for all sorts of situations in business organizations or institutions” Albert S Humphrey

  41. Origins Of S.W.O.T. Analysis More information available at www.businessballs.com • SWOT analysis emerged from an effort in the 1960s by the Stanford Research Institute to understand why corporate planning failed • The research was funded by the Fortune 500 companies and led by Marion Dosher, Dr. Otis Benepe, Albert Humphrey, Robert Stewart and Birger Lie • The researchers performed an extremely large study involving over 1,000 companies and 5,000 executives

  42. Origins Of S.W.O.T. Analysis (cont…) More information available at www.businessballs.com • Unanimous opinion at the time was that corporate planning in the shape of long range planning was not working, did not pay off, and was an expensive investment in futility • Original technique was Satisfactory Opportunity Fault Threat analysis but was changed early on to SWOT

  43. How Do We Do It? • In a SWOT analysis we list the positives and negatives surrounding an idea and how it relates to our enterprise using the categories Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats • Strengths and Weaknesses are considered internal to our enterprise and things that we have control over • Opportunities and Threats are considered external to our enterprise and things that we do not have control over

  44. The S.W.O.T. Template Positive Negative InternalFactors Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats ExternalFactors

  45. Strengths • What is it about the idea that makes it attractive? • Examples: • Competitive advantages? • Unique selling points? • Resources, assets, people? • Experience, knowledge, data? • Likely financial returns? • Location and geography? • Philosophy and values?

  46. Weaknesses • What are the disadvantages of the idea? • Examples: • Gaps in capabilities? • Financials? • Timescales, deadlines and pressures? • Effects on core activities, distraction? • Morale, commitment, leadership? • Processes and systems?

  47. Opportunities • In your current environment what are the external factors which promote the idea? • Examples: • Competitors’ vulnerabilities? • Industry or lifestyle trends? • Technology development and innovation? • Global influences? • Niche target markets? • Partnerships? • Seasonal, fashion influences?

  48. Threats • What external features of your current environment could negatively affect the idea? • Examples: • Political effects? • Legislative effects? • Environmental effects? • IT developments? • Competitor intentions - various? • New technologies, services, ideas? • Economy - home, abroad?

  49. Intentions Of S.W.O.T. Analysis • We look at the categories with the following intentions: • Strengths: to build on, maintain and leverage • Weaknesses: to cover, remedy or exit • Opportunities: to capture, prioritise and optimise • Threats: to defend against, counter

  50. Aims Of S.W.O.T. Analysis • SWOT analysis aims to: • Reveal the competitive advantages of an idea • Analyse the prospects an idea has for success • Prepare for any problems associated with pursuing an idea • Allow for the development of contingency plans around an idea