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Fact or Fiction – The importance of understanding types of information in creative problem solving

 

Posted by Wendy Wilson | Learning & Development Consultant on 03-Aug-2018

 

 

Crossroads and making choice

We only need to look at a news website to see evidence of the diverse types of information we are exposed to.  It can be confusing.  When it comes to problem solving and making decisions, how do you be sure you have the right information?  How do you know you have quality information?  What type of information should you be paying attention to?

 

We gather information for several reasons including:

 

    - Making decisions
    - Tracking progress
    - Getting to the bottom of a disagreement
    - Documenting
    - Reporting
    - Investigation
    - Persuasion
    - And more….

 

Understanding the different types of information available will assist you to gain clarity and ultimately provide you with actionable knowledge.

The following list includes information you may need to consider when beginning the creative problem-solving process:

 

    - Fact
    - Opinion
    - Opinionated Fact
    - Concept
    - Assumption
    - Procedure
    - Process

 

Facts are small pieces of well-known information which are based on objective data and experience. Definition: - something that exists; reality; truth.

 

Opinions are also based on observation and experience, but they are subjective and can be self-serving. Definition: - a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.  When a fact and opinion are presented together, it is an Opinionated Fact, which may try to indicate the significance of a fact, suggest generalisation, or attach value to it. Opinionated facts are often meant to sway the listener to a point of view using the factual data to support an opinion.

 

Concepts are general ideas that share common features. Concepts are important in helping make connections or to develop theories. Definition: - an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct.

 

Assumptions are a type of concept or hypothesis in which something is taken for granted.  For clarity and transparency, assumptions should be stated in a report or business case as a basis for a decision.  Definition: - something taken for granted; a logical supposition.

 

Procedures walk you through how to do something using specific steps. Definition: - an act or a manner of proceeding in any action or process.

 

Processes are slightly different, describing repeated actions or operations to explain how something works or operates. Definition: - a systematic series of actions directed to some end.

 

Principles are accepted rules, laws or doctrines, often describing actions or conduct. Definition: - a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived.

 

In addition, be prepared to challenge thinking presented as the following:

 

    - Generalisations such as ‘never, always, everybody, no-one, everyone, all etc”.


    - Deletions: Information that is left out e.g. “That won’t work.’  We selectively pay attention to certain dimensions of our experience and exclude others.


    - Distortions: Unconscious bias or assumptions made on incomplete information e.g. A colleague works with a clean desk, with little to no paper visible, and others think this person isn’t doing any work.

 

Now you understand the diverse types of information available you can start the creative problem-solving process with more clarity, confidence and inquiry.

 

 

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