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Innovative Tools for Practical Problem Solving
on February 13, 2003
James M. Higgins' packs every one of his 220 pages with solid content. He collected problem-solving techniques from organizations and individuals from all types of business and several countries. He wrote them up, summarized them, and presented them to us in easy-to-read, digestible, format. Most important, he explains them so that they can be taken and used.
Higgins spends two short chapters discussing problem solving and innovation, then he gets down to the techniques. He has techniques for recognizing and identifying problems, analyzing the environment, brainstorming problem-solving ideas, and choosing solutions. One of my favorite facts about this book is that he has 38 techniques for individuals to brainstorm ideas, yet also has another 32 group brainstorming techniques. He really includes something for everyone in this smorgasbord.
I have adapted and used a number of these successfully: the Lotus Blossom and Two Words Techniques have been excellent brainstorming processes for me. I have shown a large number of people the Why-why diagram for uncovering the root causes of problems. I have shared my copy of this book with five or six people, each of whom went out and bought their own copy.
If you're looking for an easily read book that gets you started on formal, process-oriented problem solving (as advocated by Quality Management philosophies), this is a great starting point.