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Strategies for Creative Problem Solving, 3rd Edition

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Strategies for Creative Problem Solving, 3rd Edition


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  • More than 25 examples new to the third edition, based on recent, real-world events and topics
  • Expanded coverage of critical thinking and reasoning, including an introduction to structured critical reasoning
  • New discussion of managing complex change
  • Companion website as a valuable resource for students and instructors, containing Interactive Computer Modules, Summary Notes, a Professional Reference Shelf, and Additional Study Materials


  • Copyright 2014
  • Dimensions: 8" x 10"
  • Pages: 384
  • Edition: 3rd
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-309166-X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-309166-3

A Tested, Proven Approach to Problem Solving—Updated with New Material and Current, Real-Life Examples

Strategies for Creative Problem Solving, Third Edition, will help you hone your creative skills and apply those skills to solve nearly any problem. Drawing on National Science Foundation-funded, advanced research that studied problem-solving techniques in all areas of modern industry, this book presents a comprehensive, systematic problem-solving framework. Through hands-on techniques and exercises drawing on realistic examples, you will learn how to approach an ill-defined problem, identify the real problem, generate and implement the best solution, evaluate what you’ve learned, and build on that knowledge.

This third edition has been updated and revised, further enhancing its value for engineers, technical practitioners, students, and anyone who wants to improve their problem-solving skills. Updates include 

  • More than twenty-five new examples—based on recent, real-world events and topics—that illustrate the various problem-solving techniques
  • Expanded coverage of critical thinking and reasoning
  • An introduction to structured critical reasoning
  • New discussion of managing complex change
  • Expanded and improved explanations of the components of problem-solving strategies 

The first edition of this book earned ASEE’s 1996 Meriam-Wiley Distinguished Author Award, and now it’s more focused and useful than ever.

Companion Web Site 

The book’s companion Web site (www.engin.umich.edu/scps) is a valuable resource for students and instructors. The site contains

  • Interactive Computer Modules: Seven simulations linked to the book’s content and designed to deepen your expertise with every stage of the problem-solving process
  • Summary Notes: Chapter-specific material that highlights important points in each chapter—excellent for classroom presentations and concept review
  • Professional Reference Shelf: Additional examples and problem-solving materials
  • Additional Study Materials: Course syllabi and Web links to related material


Author's Site

Please visit the author's site at www.umich.edu/~scps/.

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Preface xiii
Acknowledgments xix
About the Authors xxi

Chapter 1: Problem-Solving Strategies: Why Bother? 1
What's the Real Problem? 1
Correct Problem Definition/Wrong Solution 7
A Heuristic for Successful Problem Solving 8
Summary 11
Web-Site Material 11
References 13
Exercises 13
Further Reading 15

Chapter 2: The Characteristics, Attitudes, and Environment Necessary for Effective Problem Solving 17
Getting in the Right Frame of Mind 18
Having a Vision 22
Working Together in Teams 26
Responding to Criticism 30
Conflict Resolution 32
Summary 34
Web-Site Material 35
References 37
Exercises 37
Further Reading 40

Chapter 3: Skills Necessary for Effective Problem Solving 41
Critical Thinking 41
Summary 63
Web-Site Material 64
References 65
Exercises 65
Further Reading 73

Chapter 4: First Steps 75
The First Four Steps 76
Summary 90
Web-Site Material 90
Reference 91
Exercises 91

Chapter 5: Problem Definition 93
Defining the Real Problem: Four Techniques 93
Technique 1: Using the Duncker Diagram to Define the Real Problem 94
Technique 2: Using the Statement-Restatement Technique 98
Technique 3: Kepner-Tregoe Problem Analysis 103
Which Technique to Choose? 109
Determine Whether the Problem should be Solved 109
Brainstorm Potential Causes and Solution Alternatives 111
Summary 111
Web-Site Material 112
References 113
Exercises 113
Further Reading 125

Chapter 6: Breaking Down the Barriers to Generating Ideas 127
Recognizing Mental Blocks 129
Improving Your Creative Abilities 133
Risk Taking 135
Summary 141
Web-Site Material 142
References 142
Exercises 143
Further Reading 145

Chapter 7: Generating Solutions 147
Brainstorming 147
Free Association 148
Vertical Thinking 149
Lateral Thinking 154
Organizing Brainstorming Ideas: The Fishbone Diagram 157
Cautions 159
Brainwriting 159
Futuring 159
Cross-Fertilization 162
Analogy 165
Incubating Ideas 167
Triz 168
Use The Defect to Solve The Problem 177
Summary 179
Web-Site Material 179
References 180
Exercises 181
Further Reading 185

Chapter 8: Deciding the Course of Action 187
K.T. Situation Appraisal 188
K.T. Problem Analysis 194
K.T. Decision Analysis 194
Adverse Consequences of the Alternative Solutions 198
K.T. Potential Problem Analysis 208
Summary 214
Web-Site Material 215
References 215
Exercises 215
Further Reading 227

Chapter 9: Implementing the Solution 229
Approval 229
Carry Through 241
Follow Up 242
Goal Setting 244
Summary 244
Web-Site Material 245
References 246
Exercises 246
Further Reading 247

Chapter 10: Evaluation 249
General Guidelines 249
Ethical Evaluation 253
Safety Considerations 260
Summary 260
Web-Site Material 261
References 261
Exercises 261
Further Reading 270

Chapter 11: Troubleshooting 271
Some General Guidelines 271
Technical Troubleshooting Exercises 280
Interactive Computing Module on Troubleshooting 292
Troubleshooting Laboratory Equipment 294
Summary 295
Web-Site Materia


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