Problem Focused vs. Solution Focused

Where does the difference lie between problem focused solvers and solution focused solvers? The answer to this question was found by Bryan Lawson, a psychologist, in 1972.

In one of his experiments, he took two groups of students; one group consisted of final year students in architecture, whereas the other group comprised of post graduate science students. The two groups were asked to create one-layer structures with a set of colored boxes. The perimeter of the structure had to optimize either the red or the blue color; however, there were unspecified rules governing the placement and relationship of some of the blocks.

Lawson found that βˆ’

β€œThe scientists adopted a technique of trying out a series of designs which used as many different blocks and combinations of blocks as quickly as possible. Thus they tried to maximize the information available to them about the allowed combinations. If they could discover the rule governing which combinations of blocks were allowed they could then search for an arrangement, which would the required color around the layout. [problem-focused] By contrast, the architects selected their blocks in order to achieve the appropriately colored perimeter.

If this proved not to be an acceptable combination, then the next most favorably colored block combination would be substituted and so on until an acceptable solution was discovered. [solution-focused]”

βˆ’ Bryan Lawson, How Designers Think

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