new arrivals that you will want to talk to them later in
the dayand be sure to do it.
Since misunderstandings can arise in almost any
working situation, a complaint in good faith, a
disagreement between the members of the crew, or
direct or indirect disobedience are problems that you
must face and attempt to settle or solve as expeditiously
SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO
Whenever you have a problem to solve, you should
use a logical, proven method to guide you to a
solution. Problem solving is primarily a method of
thinking based on scientific procedures. In the
following paragraphs, we will show you how to use a
scientific approach to solve a problem. Place yourself
in the hypothetical situation of being leader of a group
of problem solvers as you read about the basic steps
in problem solving.
One of the most important steps in learning to use
the scientific approach is accepting the need for a
logical, orderly procedure for evaluating a problem. The
procedure we will teach you is known as the six-column
approach. Over the years, the six-column approach has
been found to give excellent results. The column titles
represent the phases and sequence of the problem
solving process: (1) Facts, (2) Problem, (3)Possible
solutions, (4) Consequences of possible solutions, (5)
Accepted solutions, and (6) Cause or causes of the
A shallow look at the system may lead you to think
that the process is fine, as long as time is not an
important element. You may think you won t often
have enough time to use it. A deeper look, however,
will show you that this process, properly learned
and properly used, applies to any problem
regardless of the time element. You must then
realize that time is relative. Extra time spent up
front saves time later on. By using the scientific
approach, you will prevent wheel spinning and
make better use of whatever time you have
available to solve the problem. Some problems
require lengthy consideration. Others may require
only a few seconds to determine the facts, identify
the problem, consider a course of action, and then
act. In either case, the process works. After you
have used the process several times, you will start
to use it automatically whenever you encounter a
1. Determining the facts (column 1). In the
problem-solving method, you must determine the facts.
All good objective reasoning is based on facts, things,
or events that have actually occurred. People often
interject assumptions, which are subjective and have not
occurred. In learning the problem-solving method, insist
that your group deal only with the facts as outlined in
each problem; or, if an assumption is accepted, make
sure it is identified as an assumption, not a fact. After
the group has discussed the problem and agreed upon
the facts, list the facts under column #l.
Delay discussion of any facet of the problem until
you are sure you have obtained all pertinent facts.
2. Defining the problem (column 2). In any human
relations incident or any other problem, there are usually
two elements or problemsthe apparent and the
underlying. You will notice this when your group tries
to define the problem. Most people can easily see the
the equipment does not work
someone is in trouble, relationships are poor between
people-these things are apparent.
The individual must face all these problems. A
person can usually define the immediate (or apparent)
problem but must be trained to define the underlying
difficulty. A statement defining the problem should be
written out; an oral statement is not enough. The group
should analyze the written definition criticall y and come
to an agreement concerning it. Only then is the group
equipped to explore the best possible course of action.
3. Possible courses of action (column 3). Any
problem has many possible courses of action to achieve
solution. Before you decide on any single course of
action, try to determine all the courses of action. In
handling technical or human relations problems, you
should be aware that many alternative solutions exist.
Remember, in this phase you are not evaluating the
courses of action; you are merely listing the alternatives.
Enter the possible courses of action under column #3.
The fourth step determines, to a large degree, which one
(or combination) of the courses of action from column
3 you can use in solving the problem.
4. Consequences of possible actions (column 4).
No leader worthy of the name leaps to the solution of a
problem without considering the consequences of all
proposed courses of action. What will occur if I do this
instead of that? You, as a military leader, are responsible
for the action you take. Therefore, you must be