Needs Assessment and Defining the Problem

Needs Assessment and Defining the Problem - Needs...

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the Problem
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The formulation of a problem can be more challenging than analyzing its possible solutions We have a tendency to want to simplify complex things We sometimes see problems as more complex than they actually are We have built in perceptual filters Prior experience Peer expectations Our value systems We are capable of experiencing and comprehending a vaster universe than we are able to describe in words We have an understanding at a primitive level of thought, but cannot communicate it clearly
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Point 1: The manner in which the problem is defined will influence the kinds of solutions proposed. If highway congestion is defined as a problem of insufficient capacity, there will be a tendency to see the solution as more lanes of highway If water shortage problems are defined as an insufficient supply of water, the tendency will be to see the solution as finding more sources of water Moral : Don’t define the problem in terms of the solution Moral : Focus on the function of a system, component or process. What must it accomplish to be successful?
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Point 2: Current ways of solving problems may not always be the best solutions–history is full of examples Horse drawn trams versus cable cars Cable cars versus electric streetcars Analog versus digital signals Snail mail versus email Aerial photography versus satellite imaging Moral : Don’t restrict your imagination prematurely
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Point 3: The reasons why a problem exist can be multilayered, and getting to the bottom of an issue can be like an archeological exploration; one has to keep digging deeper for information and insight Ask Why? five times in a row At some level the solution may lie outside the variables and elements over which you have control as a designer working for a client Moral : Seek the deeper levels of understanding, but recognize where the limitations occur
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Some Techniques that may help you to define problems (Voland):
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Statement Restatement Technique Write a problem statement and then focus on the words that were used Restate the problem several times to develop deeper insight Vary the words to reflect different emphases or definitions Try expressing the thoughts with equations or graphs Determine the actual constraints or boundaries Identify meaningful goals – prioritize them and focus on the most important ones Identify relationships between the inputs (materials, money, equipment) and the outputs or benefits
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The Revision Method Look at existing solutions and identify what is undesirable about them, then improve on the defects (evolution in design) Common in transportation engineering Freeway interchange design Signs and markings
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This note was uploaded on 06/04/2010 for the course CEE 110 taught by Professor Unlv during the Spring '10 term at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Needs Assessment and Defining the Problem - Needs...

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