Solution-focused thinking is a constructive approach that focuses on generating potential
solutions to an upcoming problem. It places focus on a person's present and future circumstances
rather than dwelling on the history of the problem. Solution-focused thinking plays a crucial role
in the maritime industry because it draws upon social, cultural, and material resources. It helps in
safeguarding millions of lives and the ship while in danger. It not only ensures environmental
protection but also contributes to the development and success of the industry.
Recent reports indicate that the number of maritime accidents has not reduced despite the
advancement in science and technology in this field. One of the obvious causes is human failure.
The human factor such as the lack of competencies of mariners onboard has led to more
accidents as compared to technical factors. In times of maritime emergencies, when nothing but
human factor matters, mariners should concentrate more on thinking smarter.
It is then, that solution-focused thinking comes into play. It helps a mariner onboard to focus
more on the strengths and resources available for the problem rather than contemplating the past
or history of the problem.
The shift of the focus, away from problems and toward potential solutions, is the successful theory behind solution-focused thinking. It has proved beneficial in the maritime world and several sectors..
To apply approach a problem with solution-focused thinking a mariner must:
• Believe that every problem has a potential solution.
• Think and discuss more on the present and the future – not the past.
• Focus! Not on the problems but on the solutions.
• Believe that the problem or situation is not permanent.
• Optimize the skills, technology, and available resources to discover the solution.
• Do not ignore any positive signs. Even the smallest of efforts performed with wisdom can provide solutions to the problem or the situation.
• Understand that solution-focused thinking demands the active collaboration of the team members.
• Devise a plan and execute it to get the results.
Effective maritime training help in building the skill of solution-focused thinking in the shipping industry. Brain training games have successfully emerged in the last many years as a training tool in various industries, especially in the military and the maritime industries. There are several companies that develop interesting simulation games for the maritime industry. These games do more than just entertaining the players. They are built with the intention to train and educate the mariners to develop requisite skills so that can perform their daily task more efficiently. Studies show that such brain training games are useful in several different ways because of the following outcomes
• improve focus and concentration
• strengthen thinking capacity
• increase time on task
• provide in-depth engagement
• shift the focus on solutions
• enhance competency
The ever-changing work environment onboard ships, advanced technology, and automation have increased the challenges for the trainees and mariners in the industry. It is no more an easy job to learn the functions of the equipment through mere observation of officers at work. Consequently, on-the-job training has proven to be a highly effective training method, which is used by many maritime training institutes.
The cognitive apprenticeship model, based on the idea of learning in context, helps mariners to develop the skills and competency to think smartly and to bounce back in difficult and challenging situations. However, cognitive apprenticeships are effective only when skills and concepts are taught in the real-world context and situation of the shipping industry. Breaking down problems to a simplified version to train mariners may not serve the desired results. It is, therefore, required to design situations from the context of ships with its natural complexity and extend. And these problems should be tackled the way mariners would perform it, with all the relevant and available resources.
Cognitive scientists also agree to the idea that cognitive processes do not reside solely in a person's mind, but are situated in physical and social contexts. Therefore, it becomes important to create the milieu in which practical learning and solution-focused thinking take place. Rather than simply discussing the dos and don’ts, a solution focussed thinking cultivates analytical and creative skills necessary for mariners to innovate their own solutions. Seafarers with this skill can solve a problem at hand more efficiently.