Facilitating problem definition in teams

Sims, David and Eden, Colin and Jones, Sue (1981) Facilitating problem definition in teams. European Journal of Operational Research, 6 (4). pp. 360-366. ISSN 0377-2217

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Abstract

The problems that a team comes to define as needing to be worked on depend upon idiosyncratically defined subjective, qualitative and organizationally political factors affecting the individual members of the team. In this paper we shall argue that Operational Research tends to pay little attention to the process of problem definition and that when it does, the emphasis is towards determining an accurate or correct interpretation of the external situation that the team confronts and the organizational objectives which have been laid down for the team. We suggest, however, that Operational Researchers are particularly well placed to act in a way which pays attention to both these fields. This paper is addressed to those Operational Researchers who predominantly work with complex policy problems belonging to a team of decision-makers. We shall demonstrate that group techniques, new computer simulation technology, and attention to process can lead to a team negotiating a definition and redefinition of a problem so that solutions have a greater commitment from the team, and therefore a higher chance of being implemented.