Problem Solving Technique
A 4-step tool
A 4-step tool
This tool contains a useful problem solving technique: “Critical Examination”. Use its structured questioning process to help improve your business processes.
The questions in this tool are designed to help you examine your business processes, and to help identify possible improvements. The tool uses Kipling’s six honest serving men: what, why, when, how, where and who (as discussed in our article: Best Management Tools Ever? – A Good Question!
This problem solving technique is part of our comprehensive Seven Step Problem Solving process. Starting with the flow-diagram (below), it will help guide you from an assessment of the current situation, to challenging why things are done in a particular way, to option generation, and finally to the selection of appropriate solutions.
Not sure which of your business processes to begin with? You may want to look at our article: Problem Solving Skill. This discusses the often underrated skill of finding the right problems to solve. It will also help you focus on improving those processes which create the best opportunities.
Now apply the systematic, structured, questioning technique, detailed below. It encourages you to: summarise the current situation; challenge it; consider options; choose the best or optimal. Think about this process yourself, then involve any team members as appropriate. Encourage creativity but ensure each step is taken in a thorough and disciplined manner.
The real value in using this tool is in conjunction with the right questions. Read through the points below then look at the sample questions for each step in the table below. As before, go through this process with any appropriate team members.
Answer the questions in the first column. These summarize the present process method, asking: what; how; when; where; and who.
Challenge each of your answers by asking “why?”
Use column three to help you generate a range of improvement options.
Use column four to help you decide on the best option.
Use step 1 to:
Use step 2 to:
Use step 3 to:
To help with group creativity, and to focus on the opportunities that solving this problem might create, consider using the management tips in 5 Questions to Transform Problem Solving.
Use step 4 to:
Look for the small changes to the process which could have a big impact on the process as a whole.
Ask the question: “What small change would significantly improve the process?”
If you want to read more management tips for problem solving our Seven Step Problem Solving Process is a good place to start.
Click on this link to download our free, problem solving management tool: Problem Solving Technique: 4 Steps to Improve Your Processes. Or, for our bumper pack of problem solving techniques, tips, tools and more, follow the link to our problem solving products.
Once you’ve read this article, put our problem solving technique to good use with our great-value e-guide: What’s the Problem?! A comprehensive guide to problem solving, complete with these 9 essential tools:
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