Problem-solving is the thorough process of determining, defining the problem at hand, figuring out the cause of the problem, identifying, rectifying, prioritizing, and finding a solution and alternatives to work on the eliminate the problem at hand. Problem-solving is one of the basic skill set that we all have by default. It is only a matter of how good and proficient one is compared to others and what have you done to strengthen it. We are constantly working on solving problems from the time we rise to go back to bed. “You’ll likely make dozens of decisions each morning before you leave your house, from what time to get up to which color of socks to wear.” (Notes on Critical Thinking, 2017) Even then we are solving problems while in sleep, we find ourselves endlessly solving issues in a dream, be it rational or not.
“You have worked at your company for eleven (11) years. You have returned to college to earn a Bachelor’s degree to increase your chances for a promotion. You are nearly finished with your degree when a supervisor’s position in a competing company becomes available in another state. The start date is in two (2) weeks, during your final exam period for your courses. The position offers $15,000 per year salary increase, a car allowance, and relocation expenses. Your former supervisor works for the company and is recommending you for the position based on your outstanding job performance; if you want the job, it’s yours. All of the other supervisors at this level in the company have Master’s degrees, so you know that you would be expected to earn your Bachelor’s degree and continue to a Master’s degree. Your present company offers tuition reimbursement, but the new company does not.” (Week 9 Assignment 2, 2019)
As mentioned in the book, Notes on critical thinking from Soomo Learning, the following basic steps are the standard approach to solving a problem.
- Define the Problem
- Analyze the Problem
- Generate Options
- Evaluate the Options
- Make Your Decision
- Implement and Reflect (Notes on Critical Thinking, 2017, p. 7.1 Define and Analyze the Problem)
Applying above mentioned steps on the scenario given.
Define the Problem
The first step to problem-solving is a basic instinct, i.e., understanding what the problem in hand is. Understanding the problem is the necessity. Without a good understanding of what the problem is one is simply like throwing a dart in the dark assuming the target will hit after a few darts thrown, this might get you a target, but the probability is slim.
In the context of the scenario given, the problem in hand is whether to leave the current job that provides a tuition reimbursement but with lower salary compared to the offer provided by the new company that is offering $15,000 more per annum with the higher title but no tuition reimbursement. After defining the dilemma and good understanding of the problem I can now start analyzing the problem.
Analyze the Problem
After successfully understanding and defining the problem or dilemma in hand, I am now trying to analyze the possibilities and hindrances of the decision. If I choose the new offer, I will incur tuition fee that isn’t reimbursed but that would only last for a year or two, and perhaps I could take fast-paced course to complete the masters’ fast and start paying off the loan quicker, this would allow me to pay up on the principal rather having to pay interest monthly. Maybe, I could ask my current employer for a promotion and a raise. Comparing with my current salary and the tuition reimbursement would eventually offset the salary provided by the new offer, deducting tuition expense. (Srinivas, Hari, 2015) Having not to move and tuition reimbursement are the major pros of staying with my current employer. The cons to this are the lower salary. “To remediate a problem, you must first figure out what caused it. This requires that you gather and evaluate data, isolate possible contributing circumstances, and pinpoint the chief causal factors that need to be addressed to resolve the problem.” (Doyle, 2019)
When a problem is defined and analyzed, this step focuses more on generating various option without evaluating the pros and cons. “At this stage, you should not pre-judge any potential solutions but should treat each idea as a new idea in its own right and worthy of consideration.” (Srinivas, Hari, 2015) Quickly brainstorming through possible options and listing the options that are available is the name of the step.
After careful analyzation, I have come up with options like below.
- Take the offer, relocate and perhaps study as the increase in salary would offset the tuition.
- Respectfully deny the offer and stick with current employer and utilize the tuition reimbursement benefit.
- Again, deny the offer and respectfully and ask for a promotion to the supervisor with the validity of continuing Masters.
- Once again, deny the offer and complete the masters’ degree and ask for a promotion to supervisors’ position.
These options and choices are raw and in no sense evaluated.
Evaluate the Options
Evaluating the options we listed on the prior step, generating options is done in this step. “This is the section where you look through the various influencing factors for each possible solution and decide which solutions to keep and which to disregard. You look at the solution as a whole and use your judgment as to whether to use the solution or not.” (Srinivas, Hari, 2015)
Going through my options and carefully evaluating each option, I realized only two options to be viable and beneficial.
1. Take the offer, relocate and perhaps study as the increase in salary would offset the tuition.
This option is more likely to happen. I will take the new offer and position and work on masters on the side. The tuition expense would automatically offset by the increase in salary offered by the new company.
- Increase the salary
- Higher position • Relocate
- No tuition reimbursement
2. Again, deny the offer and respectfully and ask for a promotion to the supervisor with the validity of continuing Masters.
Above is a viable option but less likely to happen as this requires convincing my validation and asking for promotion as it does not belong in my action of control. But if stars align this would turn out to be the best option of all.
- Increase the salary
- Higher position
- No relocation • No control of the outcome
- Stuck with same position and salary if the plan fails.
Make Your Decision
This step on problem-solving requires making a decision based on careful judgment and thorough process of eliminating the bad options. The decision made has slim chances of being a bad option for the long run as this is picked after highly sophisticated elimination of bad options from the good ones and beneficial ones.
With the current situation and considering the viable options pros and cons I can confidently select the option 1, taking the offer and completing the masters with the increased salary. I am confident about this option as I don’t have any control and cannot discard the option that is truly beneficial, maybe not now but in the long run. For one and half a year or two, the rise in salary will go for the tuition and act as an offset, but after this period the increase in salary would be very beneficial. Also, to mention by the end of my masters, I would have two years of experience as a supervisor which means if hypothetically I were to look for a new offer, I would be getting more salary. Thus, after careful consideration, I am moving on with option 1 and taking the offer.
Implement and Reflect
“Once a course of action has been decided upon, it must be implemented, along with benchmarks that can quickly and accurately determine whether it’s working to solve a problem.” (Doyle, 2019) I read the following in an ASQ Quality Press which is worth sharing, “Problem solving, and the techniques used to gain clarity, are most effective if the solution remains in place and is updated to respond to future changes.” (What is problem solving?, n.d.)
Now, that I have made my decision and measured out the pros and cons, I am going to reply to the new offer and if possible make a counter if they are open to renegotiate the salary and increase it by five thousand. I will write a letter of resignation to my current employer, meet with the supervisor and perhaps go for a team lunch. Reflecting to all my options, I highly consider this decision of mine to be very optimistic and beneficial.
- Doyle, A. (2019, 02 05). Problem Solving Examples and Skills List. Retrieved from thebalancecareers: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/problem-solving-skills-with-examples-2063764
- Notes on Critical Thinking. (2017). Notes on Critical Thinking (3rd edition ed.). (M. J. Lindrum, Ed.) Ashville, NC: David Lindrum. Retrieved from www.webtexts.com
- Srinivas, Hari. (2015). The Problem Solving Process. Retrieved from GDRC: http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html
- Week 9 Assignment 2. (2019). Problem Solving: Scenario 1.
- What is problem solving? (n.d.). Retrieved from asq: https://asq.org/quality-resources/problem-solving