Illegal immigration, childhood hunger, abuse, neglect, poverty, environmental decay, homelessness, the list goes on and on and on. How overwhelming it can be to turn on the news and see negative story after negative story, a seemingly never-ending stream. How are we to navigate these tumultuous waters and maintain a degree of sanity at the same time? How can we position ourselves to affect change in the midst of overwhelming adversity? Passion!
Let me explain passion’s purpose in the midst of this endless parade of problems. Passion is our filter and our guide. It directs us to the problem area that is most meaningful to us. It is not possible to address every issue or problem the world is experiencing. We must instead look to what sets us on fire and what touches us deeply. Once we connect with the passion that stirs within, we must then allow the passion’s work to be completed.
In order to effectively problem solve though, we must resist the temptation to remain in our impassioned state. We must be willing to move to a fact based analysis, objective reasoning, and clear minded thinking; none of which is possible if we continue in an impassioned state of mind. I am not saying we can’t or shouldn’t acknowledge our feelings for the issue upon which we have chosen to address our problem solving energies, that would not be possible. We must however keep those emotions in check through our process to reach viable solutions.
The mission of AZFPS is to provide students-our future generation of problem solvers-the skills needed to do just that; to effectively problem solve. Each coach, teacher, board member, and director has the vision and passion to provide those students with whom they work, the ability to utilize the six step problem solving model. They desire to impart objective problem solving habits to the students in their care.
Generating possible challenges through fluid and flexible thinking, making observations from various perspectives, to see how challenges connect in order to determine an underlying problem are the first two steps of the process. Students begin to understand that each problem situation is most likely too complex to tackle all at once. Instead they target a significant part within the overall problem area.
Once the underlying problem has been determined, it is time to again think fluidly and flexibly to generate many possible solutions from a variety of perspectives. Doing so allows the problem solver to make informed decisions when creating effective criteria.
Each problem has its own subtleties that need to be considered, therefore criteria should be specific to the problem in order to find the best solution. Once created, each criterion is separately applied to the solutions for ranking purposes.
Finally, the best solution is determined and it’s time to develop a plan of action to put that solution into effect. Who will assist in implementation? Who might resist? What might their reasoning be to resist, and how might we address those issues? What obstacles might need to be overcome, and how might we overcome them? What might be our timeline for implementation? These are just a few of the questions used to spur to our problem solvers as they develop their plan of action. Many great solutions die and are never realized for a lack of a clearly thought out and reasoned plan.
Effective problem solving can be a daunting task, but ineffective problem solving can lead us, both individually and collectively, to a greater despair.