The next step in the process is to select one or more solutions from the possibilities. In the previous step, you will have eliminated many of the possibilities. With a short list of possibilities, you can do a final analysis to come up with one or more of the best solutions to the problem. This module discusses that final analysis, as well as a tool for selecting a solution called Paired Comparison Analysis. It also discusses analyzing potential problems that may arise with a selected solution.
In the previous stage of the process, you performed a cost/benefit analysis. However, since we cannot always know all of the potential variables, this analysis should not be the only one you perform.
For each potential solution, you must weigh the potential advantages and disadvantages. Consider the compatibility with your priorities and values. Consider how much risk the solution involves. Finally, consider the practicality of the solution. It may be helpful to create a map for each solution that addresses all of the relevant issues.
Consider the potential results of each solution, both the immediate results and the long-term possibilities.
In the final analysis, you will refine your shortlist and keep re-refining it until you determine the most effective solution.
The Paired Comparison Analysis tool is a method of prioritizing a small number of workable solutions. The first step for using this tool is to list all of the possible solutions. Label each potential solution with a letter or number.
Next, compare the solutions in pairs. Decide only between those two which solution is preferable. Assign a number to indicate the strength of the preference for each option. For example, problem solvers could assign a “3” to items they strongly prefer, a “2” to a moderate preference, or a “1” to a mild preference.
This first round continues two at a time until all of the solutions are ranked. Then all the ranks are added together to obtain a priority score for each item. The top score is the preferred solution.
For example, imagine that a group of children are deciding which fairy tale to perform in a school play. They have listed six favorites:
A) Sleeping Beauty B) Cinderella C) Snow White
D) Jack and the Beanstalk E) Hansel and Gretel F) The Three Little Pigs
Their chart might look like this:
|A – B 2||A – C 3B – C 1||A – D 3B – D 2C – D 3||A – E 1B – E 1C – E 1D – E 2||A – F 1B – F 2C – F 2D – F 2E – F 3|
A = 1 B = 5 C = 4 D = 12 E = 1 F = 6
In this example, the clear winner is choice D, or Jack and the Beanstalk.
Think forward to the solution implementation. Ask how, when, who, what, and where in relation to implementing the solution. Does the imagined future state with this problem solution match the desired state developed earlier in the process?
Brainstorm for potential problems related to the solution. Consider how likely potential problems might occur and how serious they are. These potential issues can then be evaluated as needs and wants along with the other criteria for evaluating the solution.
Sometimes this analysis can uncover a potential hardship or opportunity that changes the criteria, problem definition, or other aspects of the problem solving process. Remember to be flexible and revisit the other stages of the process when necessary.
Gregory and Henry were sitting at their desks across from each other, working over the solutions they’d come up with to prevent loss of cash flow in their small business. They were frustrated by their inability to choose the best solution until Henry suggested they use the Paired Comparison Analysis, which would enable them to set out their solutions in a chart and compare them in pairs. Gregory and Henry assigned preference values to the pairs and categorically worked out which solution they preferred and which would work best for their purposes. In the end, Henry was glad they’d worked together to discuss and layout their preferences, and that they’d found the best solution to save their business money, using a final analysis.