Quality Progress - June 2014 - (Page 50)

STATISTICS ROUNDTABLE BY ALEXA DIBENEDETTO, ROGER W. HOERL AND RONALD D. SNEE Solving Jigsaw Puzzles Addressing large, complex and unstructured problems WE ALL FACE problems in business, as them with IT and other relevant sciences, well as in our personal lives and relation- to generate improved results."4 ships. Despite the universal need for research are noted.5 The problem-solving process in psy- This article focuses on what can chology typically focuses on brain activity effective ways to address problems, there be learned from diverse disciplines on and the personality traits that contribute to is surprisingly little agreement in quality addressing large, complex and unstruc- the way we solve problems. For example, or scientific literature on approaching tured problems. We therefore provide a Sascha Topolinski and Rolf Reber define problems in general. broader context-coming from diverse and interpret the "a-ha moment"-that Problem-solving frameworks tend to disciplines-in which to view statisti- sudden moment of clarity in which a per- be designed for narrow, well-defined prob- cal engineering. In general, this broader son realizes the answer to the problem he lems. Unfortunately, the most significant viewpoint reinforced several observations or she has been trying to solve.6 The four problems faced by modern society tend by Hoerl and Snee, and also led to some key components of the a-ha experience are to be large, complex and unstructured. unique insights. suddenness, ease, positive affect and the In other words, they're not well defined. feeling of being right.7 How do other disciplines do it? In a popular problem-solving manual, Virtually every discipline faces large, com- Graham Wilson describes the way person- plex and unstructured problems. To obtain alities affect decision-making styles.8 He neering was suggested as a way to address a sampling of this diversity, academics in suggests that your preferences inherently such large, complex and unstructured math, psychology, engineering, economics affect the way you make decisions, which problems.1-3 Roger W. Hoerl and Ronald and biology were interviewed, and numer- implies that sound problem-solving invari- D. Snee defined statistical engineering as ous publications from these and other ably involves diverse teams with different "the study of how to best use statistical disciplines were reviewed. For the sake personalities. In terms of personality, a concepts, methods and tools, and integrate of brevity, only a few highlights from this concern raised by economics professor How should we approach these types of problems? Previously, the use of statistical engi- Lewis Davis is that creativity cannot be effectively taught, but it is often what separates successful and unsuccessful problem solvers.9 A related consideration is who should be making the decisions. One pitfall to avoid during group decision making is a phenomenon called groupthink in which members "let their need to agree with each other interfere with their ability to think about the decision critically."10 According to psychology professor Erika Wells, one of the important aspects of problem solving is the size of the problem space.11 The larger the problem space, the longer it takes for us to acknowledge all of our variables and alternative approaches and test them. Thus, we should always take steps to try to reduce our problem space as much as we can, which usually 50 QP * www.qualityprogress.com http://www.qualityprogress.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - June 2014

Up Front
LogOn
Expert Answers
Keeping Current
Mr. Pareto Head
No Weak Links
Need for Speed
Solid Base
Insurance Policy
3.4 per Million
Quality in the First Person
Career Corner
Statistics Roundtable
2014 Software Showcase and Directory
QP Toolbox
QP Reviews
Back to Basics

Quality Progress - June 2014

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