The Smart Solution Book 68 Tools for Brainstorming, Problem Solving and Decision Making

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 8/31/2016
  • Publisher: FT Press

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As working life becomes more complex, we are increasingly faced with problems which may at first seem insoluble.  The Smart Solution Book is your guide to solving these problems, whatever their size.


The Smart Solution Book explains each tool in detail – what it is, when and how to use it, its strengths and its limitations. The tools range from quick fixes, which can be used by someone working alone, to large scale solutions which can be used by groups of 100 and more.  You can also use the tools separately or in combination with each other.


•    Frame problems so they can be solved

•    Find a solution to even the most intractable problem

•    Enjoy the process of problem solving, whether alone or in collaboration with others

•    Become more creative in your thinking so that, over time, solutions begin to present themselves


The Smart Solution Book will change your way of thinking about business problems: apply the techniques and see the solutions unfold.


“The essential guide for any problem solving situation. Effective, practical and very accessible. Highly recommended.” Chris Garthwaite, CEO CGA Consulting


"There isn't a single individual or organisation that could fail to benefit from the many practical approaches to problem-solving in this book. Everyone should read it!” Andrew Hilton, Managing Director, Corporate Training Partnerships Ltd


“F. Durrenmatt says 'What concerns everyone, can only be solved by everyone' - and David's book is the practical guide to getting everyone fully engaged with a creative technique to solve any of your challenges .” Peter Schwanh™ußer, Partner, papilio ag, Zurich


Author Biography

David Cotton spent 21 years with Arthur Andersen and PwC before becoming a freelance trainer in 2002.  He has worked in four continents and more than 40 countries, delivering a wide range of training in management, leadership, communication skills, business networking, confidence building, dealing with difficult people, change management, business strategy, coaching and mentoring. 


David’s clients span local and national government and nearly every industry sector and include the European Parliament, European Commission and many of its agencies, the United Nations, BBC, Syrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Russian Federal Commission, Croatian MOD, PwC, most of the major Middle Eastern oil and gas companies, Manchester Business School and many others.


He has published scores of articles and more than a dozen books, including Key Management Development Models (FT Publishing, 2015).

Table of Contents

About the author




Part 1 - Which tools to use and when

Tools for broad problem areas  

Tools for specific problems


Part 2 - Problem solving essentials  

Barriers to problem solving

Framing a problem

Stages in problem solving

Preparation for group problem solving  

Equipment needed


Part 3 - Problem solving techniques for individuals and small groups  

1.    Force field analysis and graphical force field analysis  

2.    Tough questions

3.    Ritual dissent (and ritual assent)

4.    Brain-friendly brainstorming

5.    Reverse brainstorming 

6.    Procrastination

7.    Cartesian logic  

8.    Brainwriting  

9.    Individual and collective mind mapping 

10. Structured walkthroughs  

11. Life through a lens  

12. Nominal group technique

13. GROW for problem-solving

14. Head/Heart-Push/Pull  

15. Osborne-Parnes critical problem solving process

16. Appreciative inquiry

17. Competitive ideas  

18. Why not?

19. MUSE

20. Ishikawa fishbone diagrams  

21. Deming’s PDSA Cycle (The ‘Shewhart Cycle’)

22. 3D stakeholder mapping

23. Two words technique

24. The association grid  

25. Delphi technique

26. Lotus blossom technique

27. Photographic associations

28. Random word technique  

29. Challenging assumptions  

30. Metaphorical problem-solving  

31. Who else has solved this problem?

32. How-How?

33. The 5 Whys/Question Everything

34. Jelly Baby Tree 

35. Future shock

36. What if?

37. What if we didn’t?  

38. Reframing  

39. Ripple effect (systems thinking)

40. What I need from you  

41. Concentration diagrams

42. Pareto analysis – simplified version

43. Solution effect analysis

44. The work map  

45. Competing values framework

46. Timelining  

47. One question

48. Peer assist

49. Action learning 

50. Story circles  

51. Swim Lane diagrams (Rummler-Brache diagrams)


Part 4 - Large group problem solving techniques

52. Crawford’s Slip 

53. Charrette Procedure

54. Starbursting

55. Open space 

56. World café

57. Pro-action cafe


Part 5 - Problem solving business games

When and how to use business games 

58. Retirement speeches

59. Convince me

60. Evolution

61. It’s in the news

62. The trial

63. Tortoise and hare

64. Art gallery  

65. Proverbial problem solving

66. There are no rules  

67. Documentary

68. Pitch Perfect


Part 6 – Sharing and implementing solutions

Sharing solutions  

  Implementing solutions  

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