7 Problem Solving Steps
In a minute!
In a minute!
These 7 problem solving steps provide a short outline of a process to help you solve problems effectively. A structured process helps ensure you stay on track but before you start, remember:
“Do not focus on finding an answer: focus on defining the question” Peter Drucker
Part of our manage in a minute series, read this article to gain a quick overview of the right steps for effective problem solving. We end the article with two principles that perhaps aren’t applied often enough when we set out to solve a problem.
You may also want to read our article: problem solving questions, which raises five challenging and provocative questions, based on this 7 step problem solving process:
Too often our approach to problem solving is reactive, we wait for the problems to arise. Firstly in our 7 problem solving steps, we advocate taking a proactive approach, go and find problems to solve; important and valuable problems. The real starting point then for any problem solving process is to find the right problem to solve.
It is very tempting to gloss over this step and move to analysis and solutions. However, like the first step, it is one of the secrets of effective problem solving. Combining problems that are valuable to solve, with defining exactly what you are trying to solve, can dramatically improve the effectiveness of the problem solving process. The secret to defining the problem, is really about attitude. Try to see every problem as an opportunity.
Analysis is a process of discovery of the facts, finding out what you know about the situation. In doing so you are breaking down complexity, stripping away the superficial and getting to the causes/issues.
There are always more than one way to solve a problem, so take time to develop plenty of creative possibilities to solve the problem.
Selecting is about making choices, about deciding. To do this you need to weigh up the competing value and risk of the different options you generated in the previous step.
Good solutions are often only as good as the way they are implemented. Implementation requires project management and a determination to deliver the outcomes essential to solving the problem you originally defined.
You will have done some things really well through this seven step problem solving process. It would be all too easy to forget them in rushing to solve the next problem, or to implement the solution. You should evaluate at least two areas:
This process provides a challenge to other problem solving techniques. It highlights the undervalued problem solving skill of applying two under-used principles, at the start of the process:
Finding the right problems to solve
Focusing on opportunities created by the “problem”
Once you’ve read this article, turn the seven step problem solving technique into eight steps, with our great-value e-guide: What’s the Problem?! A comprehensive guide to problem solving, complete with these 9 essential tools: