Early Experience with Heuristics

Early Experience with Problem-solving Heuristics

Original motivation for studying theories of problem solving arose from my experience at Ford Motor Company with cloistered fresh eyes teams, CFET (ca. 1975). This brief program involved four events. A different company problem was addressed at each event with different participants. They were selected according to their experience and its relevance to the specific topic to be addressed. This was an exercise in bare-brainstorming; meaning that no crutches were allowed like smart phones and handbooks.

The goal of these exercises was to generate as many solution concepts for a problem as rapidly as possible. These were the first ideas to come to mind and the instant spin-off reactions that accompanied them. No time was given to engineering. That would come later after all ideas were recorded and filtered.

Two memories stand out about this experiment. The first is how well the participants did with team brainstorming. Each session was very productive with fresh ideas. However, the other memory is of how brainstorming began to wane in an hour or so. My analysis of this problem was that we did not have any heuristics for reinvigorating the excitement of problem solving. This experience led eventually to my interest in studying and developing theories of problem solving and heuristics for rapid generation of solution concepts.

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