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Problem Solving and Decision-Making Processes: Stages and Approaches

Whatever sphere one chooses to work in, it is impossible to avoid the emergence of dilemmas. Problematic cases may occur when a person decides to move house, to change a department, or to relocate to an entirely new company. Whether it is a spontaneous or a long-planned decision, it is most likely to entail a series of complicated questions the answers to which may be difficult to find. Hence, on such occasions, an individual has to pass several stages of a decision-making process the successful completion of which can significantly increase the outcomes of the resolution made. Most typically, such a mechanism incorporates six phases: defining the problem, analyzing it, coming up with viable solutions, scrutinizing them, choosing the most feasible option, and planning further actions. In each case, the scenario of the dilemma is different, but following the mentioned steps will enable a person to perform a thorough analysis of the situation and look for relevant ways out of it.

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The primary step to take in the process of solving a problem is defining it. First of all, it is necessary to come up with a clear idea of what the whole decision-making process will be about (van Aken, 1). In the given scenario, the problem concerns whether I should continue working for the same company and obtain tuition reimbursement for pursuing a Master’s degree or if I should leave this organization and start working with another one. The reason why the issue has risen is that the new company offers a variety of perks and bonuses, such as a $15,000 per year salary increase, a car allowance, and relocation expenses, but it will not cover the tuition. However, to work there, I will definitely need not only to earn a Bachelor’s degree but also study further to obtain the Master’s one. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the start date in the new company coincides with my final exam period. Thus, the major problem to resolve is what organization I should work for and how I should manage my pursuit of education.

Upon defining a problem, it is necessary to perform a thorough analysis of it. In the given situation, the major issue affecting my decision is associated with the values I have. According to Kinicki, values play a major role in any person’s behavior (2). As it is mentioned in Schwartz’s value theory, there are two bipolar dimensions governing people’s decisions. The first one involves the level of concern for one’s own interests or those of other people (Kinicki, 2). The second dimension relates to one’s readiness or resistance to change. Hesitating between “self-transcendence” and “self-enhancement,” I tend to select the latter (Kinicki, 2). I find it more critical to pursue my own goals than keep working for the organization to which I have always been loyal, but which did not suggest opportunities for my professional growth. Opting between “openness to change” and “conservation,” I would choose the former (Kinicki, 2). I enjoy security, but trying new things is something that may bring more valuable results. Therefore, the analysis of the problem allows concluding that I would like to work in the new company that offers a salary increase.

Having scrutinized the dilemma, it is time to generate the most suitable options for finding resolutions to it. At this point, no analysis of solutions is necessary, but I have to come up with all possible ideas of how to deal with the issue. It is crucial not to disregard any opportunity even if some of them may seem irrational. In the end, some of the thoughts that might have looked like absurd can transform into effective resolutions (Lund, 3). The first solution is to ask for an extension at the university where I am earning my Bachelor’s degree. I could ask whether I may pass my final exams a few weeks later than scheduled. That way, I could start working in the new company, get the hold of things, and then take a brief leave to pass the exams. The second option is asking my current manager what chances for promotion I will have when I graduate. I should also ask about the prospects of the salary increase in case I remain with the company and get promoted.

There are two more viable approaches to solving my problem. The third possible way out is going to the new company and making an appointment with the manager there. I could negotiate the date of starting working for them so that I could complete the Bachelor’s degree first. Finally, the fourth solution is keeping the things as they are, graduating, and then looking for new opportunities. By the time I earn my Bachelor’s degree, some interesting position may open in my company or in another organization that might need my experience and proficiency in exchange for beneficial conditions.

Upon generating solutions, it is necessary to evaluate each of them. The first suggested option seems quite reasonable since asking for an extension is a usual practice at higher educational establishments. Moreover, I have gained the reputation of a diligent student, and my professors know that I have a job. Thus, it is quite likely that they could let me pass exams several weeks later. However, in that case, I would be too stressed to prepare for the exams well. If I start a new job and move to a new place, and then have to prepare for important examinations, I may get overwhelmed and lose concentration. The second solution seems rather easy to implement since I am on good terms with my manager and have many years of experience at this position. Still, the company may not feel inclined to offer promotion immediately.

Analyzing the other two solutions allows making the following assumptions. The third idea is viable because my former supervisor is recommending me for the position, so I could rely on his support in negotiating a change in the starting day of work. The fourth solution implies the least risk, but, at the same time, it does not lead to any considerable benefits for my professional growth.

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Having scrutinized the possible ways out of the problem, I need to select the one that is the most suitable. At this point, it is crucial to analyze the pros and cons of each of the solutions and be persistent in pursuing the chosen option (Zeitz, 4). In the present situation, the most appropriate option seems to be the third one, which implies asking the new company to wait for two weeks so that I could complete my Bachelor’s degree. By adopting this strategy, I will not disrupt my studies and will be able to graduate with good grades. Since the degree is a significant constituent of my professional growth, I need to do my best at fulfilling all the requirements. Then, I could move to another location without being stressed out or worrying about being absent from the new workplace at the very beginning of my career there.

The final phase of the decision-making process is implementing the decision made and planning on further steps. To make my plan true, I will need to employ anticipatory thinking (Kallet, 5). It is critical to predict my actions at least for several months ahead to make my future plans secure. Thus, I will talk to my former supervisor and ask him to arrange a meeting with his manager. If my plan succeeds, I will have time to prepare for my final exams and the location change. Further, I will apply for a Master’s degree and will combine working with studying again, but this time, with the clear aim of gaining promotion in the new firm. Although I will have to pay the tuition, the benefits of moving to the new place are more numerous than those of staying with the old company.

The process of solving problems is a complicated and multi-component one. However, passing through various stages allows time for thinking and analyzing each of the possible options. It is much better to spend some time to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of several opportunities that act in haste and take the first decision that comes to mind. The division of a massive dilemma into separate phases enables one to be attentive and not to miss out the best chance.


Joan Ernst van Aken. 2018. Problem Solving in Organizations: A Methodological Handbook for Business and Management Students. p. 12. Textbook.

Angelo Kinicki. 2018. Organizational Behavior: A Practical, Problem-Solving Approach. pp. 46-48. Textbook.

Alan K. Lund. 2015. Accelerating Profitability: A Roadmap to Revive, Accelerate and Win the Profitability Journey. Textbook.

Paul Zeitz. 2017. The Art and Craft of Problem Solving. p. 13. Textbook.

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Michael Kallet. 2014. Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills. pp. 57-59. Textbook.

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