A new methodology for formulating ill-structured problems

Basadur, M.S., Ellspermann, S.J., and Evans, G.W. (1994). A new methodology for formulating ill-structured problems. OMEGA. The International Journal of Management Science, Vol. 22 ( 6), pp 627-645.


A four phase model is presented in which problem generation and problem formulation precede problem solving and solution implementation. A relatively new heuristic for formulating ill-structured problems is described. The methodology is a systematic thinking process which combines analytical precision with structured imagination, and is called the 'why-what's stopping' analysis. Current techniques for defining problems are positioned as inadequate because they do not always fit the problems faced in day to day work and because they ignore human behavioral deficiencies. Deferral of judgment, active divergence and active convergence are identified as three behavioral skills which underly the successful application of the 'why-what's stopping' analysis. Several examples of the application of this process in real world situations are provided. Directions for future research are discussed.

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