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Army Problem Solving Process: Dr. Paul and Elder's Elements of ThoughtEssay

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Army Problem Solving Process: Dr. Paul and Elder's Elements of Thought

Although thinking is a common characteristic among all human beings, it is often said that critical thinking has to be systemically cultivated and mastered. Critical thinking is defined as self-directed thinking, which is the ability to evaluate and analyze ones thoughts. According to Paul and Elder (2006, p. 5)[footnoteRef:1], critical thinking requires elements of thought, such as purpose and the point-of-view, to be applied in developing intellectual traits like integrity according to specific intellectual standards which include clarity and logic. All these are the most basic structures upon which thinking is based. The environment of the U.S. Army has changed significantly, and amidst chaos and combat operations, it is sometimes quite hard to make good decisions. Ancient paradigms and responses that were used before are no longer applicable today due to dynamic global and localized changes. As a result of these changes, the Army now needs people who are able to take implications of their decisions to mind and also consider the first, second and third order of consequences for their decisions (Eichhorn, 2013)[footnoteRef:2]. This text examines the elements of thought as described by Drs. Paul and Elder and looks at how they can be applied by Army officers in conducting the Army problem solving process. [1: Paul Richard and Linda Elder, The Thinker's Guide to Analytic Thinking: How to Take Thinking Apart and What to look for when you do. ( Los Angeles, CA: The Foundation for critical thinking, 2006), 5.] [2: Roy Eichhorn, "Developing thinking skills: critical thinking at the army management staff college." Strategic Systems Department army management Staff College. 2013. Accessed 7 February 2015. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/critical/roy.htm]

Drs. Paul and Elder's elements of thought and the Army problem solving process

According to Paul and Elder (2006, p.5)[footnoteRef:3], there are eight elements of thought one needs to consider. These include the main purpose, the point-of-view in respect to a particular issue, the major assumptions applied, the key problem in question, consequences of the thought process, theories and concepts that are applied, information relied upon, and the major conclusions or inferences. The approach that is used by the army in solving problems involves seven major steps. These are (The U. S Army, 2011 p.11-1)[footnoteRef:4]: [3: Paul and Elder, The Thinker's Guide to Analytic Thinking: How to Take Thinking Apart and What to look for when you do,5] [4: The United States Government U.S. Army, Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures ATTP 5-0.1 Commander and Staff Officer Guide. (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 2011), 11-1]

Problem identification

Information gathering

Developing the criteria

Generation of feasible solutions

Analyzing the solutions

Comparing the solutions that are possible

Finally making and implementing the decision

Do the elements of thought, as described by Drs. Paul & Elder, assist Army officers conducting the Army Problem Solving Process?

The elements of thought can be applied in problem solving by the Army. Each stage of the process requires application of different elements of reasoning that will ensure a solution to any problem suffices.

Identifying the problem

This is the first step in problem solving. Commanders and staff have to gather adequate information and understand the question that is being addressed. The command leaders have to take into account different points-of-view from the entire team in order to clearly define the problem before progressing to other steps in the process. Once the purpose, goals and objectives are clear, leaders can save time and focus on the main causes of the problems at hand, and develop a plan to solve them.

Gathering of information

After the problem has been defined, information has to be gathered from relevant sources. Observations, data, and facts have to be timely and accurate in order to give reliable results (Paul and Elder, 2006 p. 9)[footnoteRef:5]. Key theories and concepts have to be thoroughly researched in order to come up with substantial information. Commander's guidance and personal experiences are good sources of such information. In solving problems, leaders require two major types of information: assumptions and facts (U.S. Army, 2011 p.11-2)[footnoteRef:6]. By using Paul and Elder's elements of assumptions and information, Army officers, therefore, can be able to come up with relevant facts and valid assumptions. [5: Paul and Elder,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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