Heuristic Problem Solving

Making the decision on when and how to respond to a potential threat can be difficult. At first, there seems to be a multitude of questions to be answered in order to come to the correct conclusion. When should you start initiating your response? How drastic does the response need to be in order to stop the threat? The problem is if you wait until you know all the answers it’s probably too late to respond. How do we come up with a rapid, correct response? The answer is heuristic decision making. CLICK for DEFINITION

The heuristic approach to solving problems provides you with an acceptable response in an efficient time frame. Finding the perfect response takes too long; there is no way to evaluate every factor from all the various angles. There may not even be a “perfect” response. You need a solution right now, it doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to solve the problem.

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In order to perform at this level - making decisions without all the information - three things are required.

First, you have to know what to look for. In other words the signs that trouble is coming before it arrives. The majority of this information is gained through body language. Studies have shown that doorsninety percent or more of our communication is non-verbal. Actions, someone’s physical behavior, can provide strong valid cues on what they are about to do. It’s also important to know what to ignore. Our minds are constantly receiving input from our environment and the people it contains. 

The key is to learn what to pay attention to and what to disregard.

Next, you have to know when you have enough information to act. Again, waiting until you are one hundred percent sure means you’re probably already in trouble. This doesn’t mean you lose, but it does make winning more difficult. The longer you wait the harder it will is to stop the threat, and as time passes your chances of being injured increase exponentially.

Finally, you have to know how to respond. You practice the skills needed and plan out your strategy in advance. For example, you study how closely time and distance are related. Normally the more distance between you and the threat the more time you have. A stranger visually locks in on you from forty feet away and starts approaching. Immediately you issue verbal commands, “Stop! Don’t come any closer!” If he responds that’s good. If not, then you know there may be danger coming. You start considering other options such as creating distance and preparing to draw. An attack is launched suddenly at close distance. You draw to a retention position, rapidly placing hits on the threat and creating distance. Knowing what skills are needed and practicing in advance prepares you for the fight.

Numerous studies have shown that we have the ability to make snap decisions, sometimes with very little information and with amazingly accurate results. We do it every day in a variety of ways. The same can be done for evaluating and responding to danger. Know what to look for. Understand what information if critical.  Finally, learn what response is called for to solve your problem. As I always tell people, “It ain’t gotta be pretty, it just has to work.” ~ Tiger

Tiger’s Suggested Reading List:

Left of Bang – How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life
Click to Buy

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Click to Buy

The Gift Of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence
Click to Buy

What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People
Click to Buy

Tiger McKee
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama.  He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html  McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html