Purpose of Problem-Solving Discussion

Purpose of Problem-Solving Discussion

Discussions vary according to time, circumstance, and people, but universally , they are social activities. Our democratic society favors direct participation due to our national concepts of equality, reasoned thinking, deliberation, and orderly processes. A discussion is not a debate, a monologue, or a conversation. It is a cooperative effort in which group members help others study a problem, so there are no winners or losers. It is an interchange with purpose and reason, not a casual conversation. It is systematic in that a steady progression toward a goal takes place. It is creative when people react to opinions and various turns in the discussion. It requires participation through listening and speaking. It calls for leadership so that discussion stays focused, but encourages full expression of viewpoints. Discussion, well- conducted , is a superior way to study a problem.

Discussion calls for reflective thinking ”weighing pros and cons, considering alternatives, using logic, considering consequences of possible actions. Groups try to understand the problem and act with a common purpose in solving it. When understanding is the object, participants correct others' thinking or information errors, and all understand that this is for the common good of dealing with the problem (Hyman, 1980).

Problem-solving answers the question "How." In problem-solving discussions, groups seek answers to conflicts or problems facing them. They discuss facts relevant to stated problems and discuss pros and cons of various solutions. Problem-solving discussions truly benefit from many points of view, so fostering a free exchange of ideas is vital . Groups seek ways to correct bad situations, improve current situations, or resolve conflicts between situations or people through discussion. This allows all to hear what others see as workable solutions to problems, PLUS the probable consequences of solutions.

Problem-Solving Meeting Objective

Since the idea here is to get opinions and ideas from others, the meeting objective must reflect this. Meeting objectives start with an infinitive ”to do something: to create ways to solve a problem, to gather ideas on an issue, to brainstorm on the impact of decisions already made ”a definite "doing" activity. Don't choose wimpy statements, such as "to be aware of" or "to become familiar with"! Be as specific as possible, since the objective tells participants the content and the level of detail to expect in the meeting.

To practice creating problem-solving meeting objectives, go back to the topic selected at the start, look at the three main points covered, and select an idea to use for your problem-solving meeting. Examples follow.

  1. Information meeting topic: To inform about effects of smoking on the job

    Key points:
    1. Workplace rules concerning smoking

    2. Time use/ productivity loss of smokers on breaks

    3. Effect on other employees and the organization

    Problem-solving meeting objective: To find ways to equalize time use and work produced between smokers and nonsmokers

  2. Information meeting topic: To inform about depression and recovery

    Key points:
    1. Recognizing depression in yourself and others

    2. Treatments for depression (drugs and therapy )

    3. Putting your life back together (with help)

    Problem-solving meeting objective: To create ways to support depressed people in the workforce

  3. Information meeting topic: To inform about using diet supplements to enhance performance in sports

    Key points:
    1. Type of supplements available

    2. Effect of supplements on sports performance

    3. Side effects and long- term use possibilities

    Problem-solving meeting objective: To find ways to limit the use of dietary supplements in junior- and senior-high athletes

  4. Information meeting topic: To inform about the depletion of old-growth timber through logging on public lands

    Key points:
    1. Benefits of old-growth forests

    2. Effects of logging on public lands

    3. Wood product awareness for consumers

    Problem-solving meeting objective: To create ways to provide lumber without using old-growth timber on public lands

  5. Information meeting topic: To inform about consumer credit card debt

    Key points:
    1. Extent of credit card debt in USA

    2. Reasons for mounting debt

    3. Effect of debt on the American working class

    Problem-solving meeting objective: To create ways to encourage responsible use of credit cards

In thinking about problem-solving meeting objectives, consider what question can be asked that will elicit opinions and ideas from attendees. Don't ask them to repeat back information from the first meeting; ask them an open question ” one that requires explanation. If the question has multiple answers that will vary according to the perspective taken, then it's probably a good problem-solving meeting objective.