The issue is a situation with an adverse effect. The adverse effect is an observable consequence of a conflict among the parts of a system. The place, time, and causes of the conflict should be determined. To address the issue, the conflict should be resolved or mitigated, i.e. the system should be changed by solving an inventive problem.
Step 1.1. Determine the key system
Input: the issue has an adverse effect.
Action: examine the issue, identify the flawed operation of the process.
Output: the system in which the conflict occurs most likely has been determined. It is clear which operation is flawed.
The problem with an effect adverse to the user usually has some objects: people and equipment participate in it, processes take place etc. It is these “participants” of the problem (components) which generate some phenomena manifesting as an adverse effect. It is necessary to understand which of the components can affect the occurrence of the adverse effect, to single out the system with their participation, and to investigate it.
To determine the system composition and structure as well as to study the operation of its components, it is possible to create the model of a technical system and to analyse it according to the method of nine screens, to apply the functional and process analysis. The cost-benefit analysis is a complex method .
Step 1.2. Identify the conflict
Input: the system in which the conflict occurs most likely has been determined.
Action: the system in which the conflict occurs most likely has been determined.
Output: the system conflict has been determined.
The adverse effect in the situation is the consequence of a true conflict in the system. The place and time should found, the nature of the key conflict should be determined. The cause-and-effect analysis is the most well-known and efficient tool for that. Besides, the following tools are applied: the “failure and risk analysis” and the “harmful system”. It is possible to simplify the search for the conflict if the typical places of its occurrence are taken into consideration.
Once the conflict is determined, it is necessary to understand:
- whether the adverse effect actually exists or we have mistaken an impressive but not hazardous phenomenon for it;
- whether the adverse effect is so important as to spend resources to resolve the conflict or the adverse conflict can be disregarded in the situation.
In simple cases, common sense is enough for assessment. It is better to assess a complex situation by applying the laws of technical-systems development, first of all, the law of increasing ideality.
Step 1.3. Suggest hypotheses to resolve the conflict and formulate problems
Input: the system conflict unresolved.
Action: formulate hypotheses about the methods of resolving the conflict and transform them into problems.
Output: problem (-s) statement formulated.
Hypotheses can be formulated based on the engineering experience and the analysis of similar problems. The method of nine screens according to which it is possible to resolve the conflict prior to its occurrence, during and upon it (to address the conflict consequences) can be an efficient tool for formulating hypotheses.
When formulating hypotheses, any methods activating thinking out of the box, including brainstorming, the size, time, cost operator, the method for substantiating new ideas, can be of use. The skills for fighting psychological inertia are of particular importance.
When a set of hypotheses is available, it is possible to process them and to select the most relevant model of the problem.