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Q1 Thinking tools
Figure 1.0 Mind map of “using mind maps”
A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea (Ivancevic, V. G. & Ivancevic, T. T. 2007, p. 87). By presenting the relevant key terms related a centered topic, one may recall many related issues and ideas related to the key word in the center, and will help generate image about the topic and most important it help provide directions for studying the topic.
As we can see from the above figure which shows an interesting mapping of the word “using mind maps”, assume that we are asked to provide explanations about what a “mind map” could help us to do, then this mapping would be of great help. First of all, this map provide five fields in which the tool “mind map” could be applied: business, work, career, personal and education; secondly, it states usual functions that could be used in each of the five categories. Thirdly, we may have a big image about the term “using mind maps” by listing all these key words.
b. Cause-effect diagram & d. Fishbone diagram
Figure 2.0 Fishbone diagram explaining “car will not start”
The Cause & Effect (CE) diagram, also sometimes called the ‘fishbone’ diagram, is a tool for discovering all the possible causes for a particular effect (Pólya & Conwa 2004). There is common and wide application of this thinking tool to list out and find out those reasons behind a single problem. But unlike the mind map, the usage of the fishbone diagram has several usual categories such as people, methods, material, machines and environment.
As we can see from the above figure which shows the possible reasons behind the fact that “car will not start”, the figure lists out six directions in which different factors could lead to the problem “car will not start”. For example, in term of people reasons, the drivers may use a wrong key or he or she lacks of training which could all be the possible reasons resulting in the driver being not able to start the car. Or in term of the reasons in the materials, the most often seen reason is also listed in the figure, which is out of gas though this reason could also be allocated in the people category because the driver forgets the fuel the car and therefore there is no point that the driver could start the car normally. .
c. Flow chart diagram
Figure 3.0 The flow chart of software evaluation
A flowchart is a type of diagram that represents an algorithm or process, showing the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting these with arrows. Flow charts are helpful for documentation purposes and through standardized symbols, promote the understanding of the steps as well as the sequences and relations among these steps (Berger 2002). There are several key benefits of using a flow chart. This first obvious advantage of using a flow chart is its clear logic that helps with rationality. Because every process of a decision making or how the tasks are arranged are clearly stated in a flow chart. Therefore, the logic behind the flow of the tasks are clear and people will understanding why they need to do this job before another job. The second reason is the better communication provided by the chart. Being a graphical representation of a problem solving logic, flowcharts are better way of communicating the logic of a system to all concerned (A.P.Godse, D.A.Godse 2008, p. 220). And a third advantage of using a flow chart is that it provides alternatives when a job fails. Because a flowchart will usually take into considerations of several scenarios, user of the flow charts would be able to see into the alternative ways when the current task fails.
For example, as we can see from the above figure which shows the process of the evaluation of a software usage, when we are going to use a new software, we will begin by registering the trial version of the software by downloading and installing the trail software, and the next step will be to activate the software if the trial has expired and if it is not expired, the user would be able to try the software until it is expired. This flow chart is simple but it creates a direct image regarding how the process would be in using new software that provides trail option.
e. Explain the PMI model
The PMI model is designed to help organizations assess the state of their organizational project management maturity allowing them to plan the improvements necessary to achieve a higher level of maturity (Claudiambaca.com 2009). There are several usual outcomes that organizations want to achieve, such as improvements in the key performance index (KPIs), company capabilities and best practices, all these key measurements are all relevant to the company’s profitability. This is why the owner and the management of the company want to achieve and see improvements.
Figure 4.0 An effective PMI model to achieve expected outcome
For example, as we can see from the above figure which shows the process of achieving improvement of effectiveness of the organization. By providing the inputs such as organizational systems and people system into the process integration, the company focuses on enhancing the leadership behaviors and then improves the employee engagement behaviors, and with all these steps done, the company expects that the improvement of the effectiveness of the organizations will be achieved. The advantage of using a PMI model rather than other tool in some situations would be two folds: on one hand, the PMI model offers the chance to understand the company’s work flow and different departmental functions; secondly, PMI mode is targeting at better performance rather than analyzing a simple question and it involves all activities and functions in the company.
Q2 Brainstorming process and techniques
Introduction of the brainstorming process as a thinking tool
Brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem-solving with lateral thinking. It asks that people come up with ideas and thoughts that can at first seem to be a bit crazy (mindtools.com 2011). This tool is often used when some reasons are hidden and people could not find out the root reasons, or best solutions to the problems. The brainstorming process functions by neglecting all the assumptions and conclusion that have been reached previously, and it help generate new ideas and new process and solutions. There are two kinds of brainstorming processes: individual brainstorming and group brainstorming, and we will only talk about the latter and apply it in the organizational environment.
Advantages and disadvantages of using brainstorming
The most obvious advantage of using brainstorming is that it neglect all the made and agreed assumptions and rules that may possibly together contribute to some problems that are not easy to be identified, and because the brainstorming is a creative and dynamic process, people may come up with different ideas and new solutions to the existing problems; and one disadvantage of the brainstorming process is that the solutions obtain from the brainstorming could be very creative and it could also be impractical or incur high cost to be implemented, therefore, more works are to be done to ensure that the solutions got from the brainstorming is cost beneficial.
How a company could apply the brainstorming
There are seven steps that could usually be found in a comprehensive brainstorming process:
Define and agree the objective.
Brainstorm ideas and suggestions having agreed a time limit.
Assess/analyse effects or results.
Prioritise options/rank list as appropriate.
Agree action and timescale
Control and monitor follow-up.
First of all the company needs to have clear objectives of the brainstorm process; and secondly there should be some limit about how the process is run in term of limit of time for instance; and thirdly, the results obtained from the brainstorming should be refined and classified and evaluated in term of which one is better; fourthly, the company need to generate action plan according to the best solutions based on the brainstorming process results; and last but not least, the company need to establish control and monitoring framework to make sure that the solutions is implemented accordingly.
Berger, R. W. 2002. The Certified quality engineer handbook. Wisconsin: Quality Press.
Claudiambaca.com 2009. PROJECT MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE’S. viewed on 23 Mar 2012. [online] http://claudiambaca.com/docs/PMI-white-paper.html
A.P.Godse & D.A.Godse 2008, Fundamentals of Computing and Programing. New York: Technical Publications. p. 220
Ivancevic, V. G. & Ivancevic, T. T. 2007, Computational mind: a complex dynamics perspective. New York: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 87
Mindtools.com 2011. Brainstorming: Generating many radical, creative ideas. viewed on 23 Mar 2012. [online] http://www.mindtools.com/brainstm.html
Pólya, G. & Conwa, J. H. 2004. How to solve it: a new aspect of mathematical method. New Jersey: Princeton University Press