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Problem Solving: 3 Highly Effective Tools

Particularly useful for problem solving are some of the thinking tools devised by Edward De Bono, a leading authority on teaching thinking as a skill.

Just as a carpenter learns how to use specific tools for certains tasks, attention-directing tools in the field of thinking and problem solving can be learned and used also.

For example...

Using The APC Tool For Problem Solving

APC stands for:

  • Alternatives
  • Possibilities
  • Choices

The three words are close in meaning, although one or more may be more appropriate in a given situation.

Doing an APC means thinking of alternatives, or different approaches, in solving the problem. Then, with these multiple choices before us, we can select what seems to be the best solution.

Generating alternatives opens up possibilities. It requires special mental effort as the human brain naturally looks for patterns and certainty rather than alternatives.

That is why a thinking tool such as APC forces the mind into new directions, into actually focusing, concentrating on alternatives.

Here is another problem solving tool...

Using "The Ideal Solution Method"

In this method the alternatives are listed - and then ignored.

Instead, an 'ideal solution' is fashioned for the situation.

Once that is considered, the list of alternatives can be consulted again to see which one of them comes nearest to the 'ideal solution'.

So the alternatives are now considered not on their own individual merit but according to how close they come to the 'ideal'.

Yet another excellent thinking tool from De Bono, the use of TEC...

The TEC Framework

  • T stands for Target
  • E stands for Expand and Explore
  • C stands for Contract and Conclude

This framework can be put into a time-limited 5-minute problem solving session.

Spend 1 minute on Target and Task: The target is the precise focus of the thinking and the task is the thinking task to be performed.

Spend 2 minutes on Expand and Explore: Open up the phrase, explore the territory, pull in information and concepts.

Spend 2 minutes on Contract and Conclude: Try to make sense of what you have, come to a definite conclusion or solution.

By strictly timing ourselves according to this framework the mind really focuses and produces results!

Problem solving situations become challenging, fun, and satisfying, as we learn to exercise the mind in new ways.

What is explained above merely scratches the surface of the excellent thinking courses Edward De Bono has devised over the years.

This information was taken from his book: De Bono's Thinking Course. The book includes sections on Perception and Patterns, Lateral Thinking, Information and Thinking, Making Decisions, Thinking and Doing.

Click on the link below to obtain your personal copy.

De Bono's Thinking Course
Edward De Bono



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