Using existing resources to solve problems

When trying to solve a problem it makes good sense to use existing resources where possible, rather than introducing increased complexity and potential additional costs.

The identification and use of resources around a problem or in a system* is essential if we are to find good, cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions and improvements. The term ‘resources’ is all encompassing in this context and can include even negative or harmful resources.

Resources include anything (including waste) that is available in or around the problem or system, including its environment. This could be energy, free time, unoccupied space, the ability to jointly perform additional functions, a physical element, information and so on.

How to approach the use of resources

The first step is to identify what resources are available and then to prioritise them as follows:

  • ‘No cost’ resources that are already present in the system
  • Easily available resources that are outside the system which are ‘low cost’
  • All other resources that are available at a cost

In order o use resources to solve a problem, we can use the following process to analyse resources and their effectiveness:

  1. Formulate a list of resources
  2. Prioritise them as above ( local and ‘no cost’ at the top, costly and external at the bottom)
  3. Define what kind of resources are needed to solve the problem
  4. Evaluate and estimate each of the resources
  5. Prioritise them in respect of their effectiveness and usefulness to the given problem

Resources can be internal, external, local or remote and by exploring and using appropriate resources we can solve problems and improve the benefits of a system to a great extent and of course it makes good sense to optimise our use of resources for lots of reasons.

Other examples of resources that may be available include:

  • The elements of a system
  • Element properties
  • The reverse side of something
  • Idle time
  • Parallel processing time
  • The space inside an object
  • Etc.

Having prioritised them as described, the next step is to explore how they can be used to solve any problems in the system and how existing resources can fulfil any other useful functions.

Closely examining, understanding and using resources is ideal for helping to make improvements and potentially solve both technical and non technical problems and challenges.

There are too many specific applications for the use of resources to list them all but amongst them are:

  • Product/service design
  • Problem solving
  • Process improvement
  • Productivity improvement
  • The improvement of management systems
  • Down sizing
  • Reducing costs
  • Service improvement

If you would like more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

* The term system in this context is used to describe a product (or part of a product), a service, a problem or a process


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