Morphological Problem Solving…

Morphological Matrix

One of the key aspects of our daily life is the necessity to solve problems, whether simple or complex the everyday world is chock full of them and we all make our lively hood from finding answers.  Be-it the doctor who is treating a patient for the “symptoms” of the common cold, or a used car salesman attempting to find just the right car for his newly licensed customer with no credit history.  It is all the same, as our societal model interlinks us via “problems” and our economic engines are driven by finding solutions.  Even pulling up to the McDonalds drive through window, you’re hungry and the cheery person that greets you is solving your problem for money.

With this said, those that win solve the problem the fastest and (typically) with the most efficient means.  To this end there have been many systems devised to dissect these beasts of the night into their many parts in an attempt to find the quickest path to resolution with typically the highest level of efficiency as our economic system rewards those who can do this and thus supporting Darwinian evolution.  It’s also in this respect that the “problem” is the governor of viral expansion, as it plays an inhibiting role in the acceleration of the “cycle” within the system by affecting its velocity.

With this as the reality of our daily life, it’s worth looking at what a “problem” is by dissecting it as mentioned above as Webster says a problem is:

a : an intricate unsettled question
b : a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation

As both “a” and “b” above work in tandem as an “unsettled question” will typically become a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation and thus a problem is created.  It is also important to understand that “man” creates “problems” via his own perceptions and considerations.  As in the example of the cold symptoms, the patient’s “perception” of discomfort leads them to seek a form of relief whereas they would run their course (for better or worse) without intervention.  So here it is really “mans” wish to favor the order of what could be termed a “natural” outcome into his own perceived likes.

Let’s scratch the surface to see how best we can achieve this, as “problems” come in many shapes and sizes.  So to manage the “many” we then need to take a “morphological” view of the various aspects we happen to believe are influencing the series of events which are “distressing” us.  The reason for a “morphology” tact is the need to study all of the form, structure and configuration of the problem which includes all aspects of the attributes which make up the symptoms we wish to influence.

To do this we will perform an analysis we shall employ a simple method of carrying out the following:

1. List the parameters of the situation (make Mutual);
2. Sub-divide each into its smallest parts (make Exclusive);
3. Represent these parts in a matrix (make Continual);
4. Examine all possible combinations of these parts (make Exhaustive);
5. Apply Occam’s Razor (find best solution)

The result of this morphological exercise is typically referred to as MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Continuously Exhaustive) and forms the basis for rhetorical reasoning in the problem solving arena.  There are many books written on the subject while the grandmother of them all is Barbara Minto’s book the Pyramid Principle

Note: General Morphological problem solving was originally developed by astronomer Fritz Zwicky.