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Applied Problem Analysis.

Today's security managers, both government and private, are confronted with the adage "do more with less" more frequently. That translates into handling more numerous and complex duties and problems with substantially fewer resources. Most managers also realize relief and improvements are distant and slow to arrive. However, one characteristic is common to all problems and can be easily overlooked or misunderstood. That is the need to determine the root causes of problems and not just go on intial perceptions.

I have begun developing solutions only to discover that I've tackled the symptoms and not the problem. Many managers can probably relate to this frustration. To compound the situation, how many managers have time to learn how to approach a problem systematically, identify and analyze it, and develop and implement solutions in quick response? Probably few. Well, help is on the way in the form of Applied Problem Analysis Plus.

Griver's theme is how to use a process known as operational analysis, which means presenting your ideas to decision makers precisely and in terms of quality and dollars, making the value of the ideas immediately apparent. The book will help you improve your analytical abilities and express your thoughts in all situations.

Operational analysis saves time and minimizes energy lost to frustration and aggravation that could be spent on solving the problem. Also, think how much easier your job would be if your subordinates presented you with well-completed staff work for your review and approval rather than the more typical statement, "Hey boss ... you've got a problem. "

The process begins by determining if a statement of the perceived problem or situation is presented in nonoperational or operational terms. Nonoperational statements, though seemingly logical, are vague and general. Indicators exist, but not enough measurable information is contained to identify the real problem. One example Griver provides is, "I want a more interesting job-one that pays more and has a future. "Your interpretation of that statement may be far different than that of the speaker. What is important is to define the problem in operational terms by providing measurable dimensions.

In the example, "interesting" is a nonoperational term. Stating specific tasks that are part of the job and are considered interesting and challenging and the time spent on those tasks is measurable information management can use to help an employee achieve his or her goals. You can increase an idea's chance of acceptance by stating specific measurable requests with cost estimates and their effect on the organization. Both the questions asked and the information sources selected must be complete and objective (unbiased).

Operational analysis is continuous and concurrent. Ultimately, the real problem rather than symptoms will be identified. Griver presents 10 steps to identifying it:

1. Recognize that a problem may exist.

2. Analyze the background material and write a statement of the problem.

3. Gather data to identify a problem and prove it exists.

4. Gather additional data needed to reveal the cause of the problem.

5. Review and summarize the collected data.

6. Evaluate the data.

7. State the real problem and its cause in precise and measurable terms.

8. State the criteria that a solution to the problem must meet.

9. Develop options to solve the problem.

10. Select a preferred option to solve the problem.

Griver provides good examples and case studies of how the process should be applied. A plus for busy managers is that Applied Problem Analysis Plus concisely and adequately covers the subject. The type size and layout allow for easy reading. Reference and suggested reading lists and an index are also included. I readily recommend this book to colleagues and security professionals at all levels. The work is thought-provoking, and many will find it of immediate value. I did.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Barnard, Paul
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1991
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