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4 Ways to Treat a Problem

Today we will talk about a current topic that began in the last century: the four ways to treat a problem. This approach of four ways to resolve conflict is based on the analysis and research of Dr. Russell Ackoff.

Who Was This Man?

Dr. Russell Ackoff was an architect and philosopher that dedicated most of his life to the study of the human systems and their behavior. One of the most fascinating human behavior systems was problem solving.

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Creative Thinking Is Essential for Problem Solving

Ackoff greatly progressed in the search for answers thanks to his creative thinking. He constantly reconsidered and changed the limits of the problems in order to find better insight. His main goal was to solve complex problems, which he greatly enjoyed.


He supported himself on this concept to explain his way of solving problems: “A problem is to reality what an atom is to a table.” In this way, he comes to the conclusion that humans test everything, including reality. As a result, a slew of issues arise, as well as how they interact.

“The Art of Problem Solving” and “Ackoff’s Fables”

It was his determination to figure out how to solve issues, the more intricate the better, and lucky for us, he documented it in “The Art of Problem Solving,” which was followed by “Ackoff’s Fables.” These books discuss a wide range of problems and their types, as well as solutions.

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The First Thing that You Must Learn About Problem Solving Is:

Humans possess different points of view when it comes to judgement and this complicates access to a method to solve it, so problem solving is dependent on the source that appraises it and the context in which it happens. For this reason, Ackoff suggests judging a problem in its entirety.


According to Ackoff there are four ways to solve a problem: Absolution, Resolve, Solve and Dissolve.

Absolution: It’s just thinking that the problem will solve itself, or completely ignoring it.

Resolve: Going into depth in the root of a problem similar to one that was previously resolved and applying the same procedure. This process brings acceptable answers, but not innovative enough in order to bring a revolutionary solution.

Solve: Finding a real solution. Requires research on the problem. Explains that each solution generates new problems. Those who solve problems clinically, support themselves mostly in experience, experimentation, qualitative judgments and common sense. They try to identify the cause of the problem, eliminate it, and then return to the previous state.

Dissolve: Understand this system as the entity that possesses the problem or its environment. Redesigning it takes us to the “ideal solution” and to an ideal system. In this way we can surpass in the future the best results that can be achieved now. Dissolving a problem is the best thing you can do.

The Essential Properties of Good Management

This list was produced by the author, who describes the essential properties that he considers must possess a great problem administrator. These are known as the Ackoff’s five C’s.

Capacity: In order to understand the conflicts that present themselves and solving problems and finding the best solutions in a quick and effective way.

Communication: Communicating in the best way doesn’t just require talking and give points of views. Proper communication also includes listening to others’ opinions and ideas. Good communication must be reciprocal.

Conscience: To detect and foresee everything that involves the problem.

Constancy: to resolve conflicts. Good problem administrator must be constantly generating activities in order to find the desired ends in the best way.

Creativity: A creative administrator generates its own opportunities. In a general sense this is the most important. Without it, the administrator could do a good job, but not an excellent one. Thinking without restrictions is creative thinking.

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Phases of Problem Solving

Identification of the problem: This phase involves detecting and recognizing that a problem exists, also identifying its nature and defining it.

Structuring the problem: For this you need great observation, find the facts and develop the vision for the problem.

Research possible solutions: Creating a range of possible courses of action, with little initiative to evaluate them.

Decision making: Detailed analysis of the different possible courses of action and selecting the best solution.

Implementation: Accepting and supporting the chosen course of action

Monitoring and feedback: Study the results of problem solving for a period of time. You’re looking for feedback on the success or failure of the results of the chosen solution.


“The ideal resolution” is the ideal state that all of us wish to achieve, but getting a good result sometimes is more than enough. It’s very important that your actions point to the objective of the problem. With time you will start learning the processes that are more effective, achieving this way the hardships.

Remember! Without the proper process the possible solutions can fail or other problems can occur. Keep in mind that not all problems have a solution.

The Most Valuable and Least Replaceable Resource: TIME

In engineering and construction just like in any other system there are situations in which you could lose all the earnings of the project. Example: costs, quality, waste and the late completion of the project.


If you don’t have good quality in what you’re doing as a result, whatever you could have gained vanishes in minutes. The date when the project will be completed. If you lose face with your clients in this fashion, your organization will develop a negative reputation.


We know that any of these errors presents little encouragement for investors, owners and clients. For this reason it’s important that you remember that you could predict all of these problems. In order to avoid them, the best thing you can do is optimizing your time.

How to optimize your time?

Today there are new management systems that are implemented in the main construction industries in the world and where you can find excellent results. For example Lean Construction (LC) technology or “construction without losses”. Its objective is to create good systems of production that allow to optimize, reduce or eliminate the flow to improve delivery time. Change the current paradigm of seeing the construction as a model only for transformation as a model of transformation-flow-value.


The solution is in “PASconcept”, a platform specifically designed for the management of companies like yours. PASconcept allows you to manage every face of your company. Plan your delivery time by working for your employees. Everything in one website.


This intuitive solution based in a cloud simplifies your company’s management. It also saves you and your employees. It offers you the opportunity of having your valued time. This way you recharge your batteries and you don’t waste unnecessary resources. Thus software provides real time updates and analysis, this way helping you make decisions that matter.


The final solution to your problem begins now. Take control of your company now. There are already thousands of projects being managed on PASconcept. This is the solution you were looking for.

We Leave You With a Beautiful Quote:

“Making problem solving creative and fun is putting the art into it; joining the work, fun and knowledge together. Therefore, reunifying the man, at least in its activities to solve problems”. Russell Ackoff.

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Paula Omañas is the Marketing Communications Manager for PASconcept. She graduated from FIU with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration double majoring in Marketing and Management.