Research Summary

How Executives and Artists Approach Ill-Structured Problems

by Gerald Zaltman


An ill-structured problem is one which is not routine, has no obvious best answer, and even the nature of the problem may be unclear. Ill-structured problems tend to be particularly significant when they arise. Using ZMET, this research investigates how experienced executives and novices approach this important task. A companion study concerns how artists visualize approaches to their work which also tends to be ill-structured. It is expected that accomplished visual artists may address ill-structured tasks in ways that provide useful insights for managers.