Learning from past experiences prevents wasted effort. In this video, learn how to ask five critical questions about past efforts at problem-solving that will inform current solutions.
- Another element of the critical thinking that goes into defining your problem is considering past efforts. We shouldn't reinvent the wheel. Ask yourself, has this problem been considered in the past? What did we learn? What's different now versus the last time we looked at it? Were there challenges or issues last time this was addressed that we need to think about as we try to solve it this time around? What are the ingoing assumptions that are limiting our thinking? Who was involved in the problem solving last time? By learning from experience, it's going to prevent you from wasted effort. You can identify and avoid prior pitfalls and you can also involve some of the veterans to help push your thinking. Let me show you how this showed up in a problem that I was solving. When we were trying to solve that collections issue and improve our agency performance, we had looked at commissions before. What's different this time around was we didn't have the measurement data the last time, and last time we were working with a different set of agencies on a very different technology platform. This time around new agencies, new data, new platform. Some of the assumptions we had were that we couldn't measure everything we wanted. In terms of who was involved last time, well, it was the Recoveries team from the last time, and the people who were involved in that effort, most of them were still around, and could help us think through the problem this time. By looking at prior efforts, we were able to understand what our limitations were the last time and it helped us gain institutional knowledge that we could apply this time around. As you're going through your critical thinking efforts to define your problem, ask these questions about the past efforts and see how they can inform your problem solving this time around.
- Identify how to break down complicated issues into smaller components.
- Determine the definition of an effective problem statement.
- Identify the primary benefit of focusing questions.
- Identify a problem's root causes.
- Apply critical thinking tools to analyze and unpack consequences.
- Recognize how to prepare others to think critically.