Among the definitions of a problem given in Frame 1.1, you may have noticed that Ackoff’s definition was somewhat different. It seems to describe a decision, not a problem. Is decision making a different process from problem solving; is one part of the other, or are we really talking about two aspects of the same thing? If we describe problem solving as something like ‘finding ways of getting from a situation perceived as unsatisfactory, to one that we would rather be in’ and decision making as ‘making a selection between various courses of action’, these processes might be thought of as separate. However, as we consider the full implications of what is involved, perhaps by expanding these ‘definitions’ into a number of stages, the fallacy of considering them as discrete processes becomes apparent.
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