Online store now open! visit store

5 Problem Solving Questions

5 Problem Solving Questions at the Heart of Effective Problem Solving

Here are 5 problem solving questions we think are understated ideas at the heart of effective problem solving, but they’re often missed in our rush towards a solution.

We also list key articles on this site where you can find more comprehensive checklistsand tools with structured problem solving questions.

“Do not focus on finding an answer: focus on defining the question” Peter Drucker

Part of our manage in a minute series, you can read this article to gain fresh perspectives and challenge current practice by asking 5 crucial problem solving questions.

Problem Solving Questions

1 Have you got a problem to solve or a decision to make?

Read our article: decision making problems to find out when you don’t have a problem to solve. Sometimes a lot of time can be saved by making a decision rather than trying to solve a situation that is not really a problem.

2 Have you found a problem that is important and valuable to solve?

This is one of the best questions you can ask because it leads you to start to find problems: valuable problems to solve. Most problem solving processes miss this crucial stage of “problem finding” and as a result tend towards being re-active processes that purely respond to problems as they emerge. Asking this question is an essential problem solving skill to find the “right” problems to solve.

3 Have you defined the problem clearly and expressed it in terms of an opportunity?
One of the common reasons for problems not being solved is that they are not clearly defined in the first place. A second and more important reason though for defining the problem clearly is to phrase it in terms of an opportunity. Framing a problem in the positive raises the process from simply trying to fix something that might be wrong to exploring the possibilities and potential to create something valuable and better from the problem.

4 What are you now able to do, or what could you do next, now that you have improved things by solving the problem?
A problem solving process shouldn’t end with implementation. Solving a problem should lead to an appreciation of what you are now able to do. Firstly to value the benefits derived from solving the problem and secondly to ask what should you look at next?

5 What further opportunities can you now realise that you weren’t able to before?
Finally as well as appreciation, solving a problem should be a spring board to new things that you can now do that you weren’t able to do before.


Problem Solving Questions : Some Articles

You can find a wide range of articles on the Happy Manager which use problem solving questions as a basis of solving management problems. Here are a few of the best:

Best Management Tools Ever? – A Good Question
The best management tools are good questions but why are they so important, and how can we ask better questions?

5 Whys: Getting to Root Causes, Fast!
Asking why 5 times: “the 5 Whys”, is a simple but powerful tool to use with any problem solving activity. It’s a technique to help you get past the symptoms of a problem, and to find its root causes.

Problem Solving Technique: 4 Steps To Improve Your Processes
Using questions to analyse, challenge and improve business and management processes is a very useful skill.

Problem Solving Activity – A Question Checklist For Problem Solving
This question checklist is a simple but effective problem solving activity. It’s straighforward to use and easy to adapt to any specific circumstance. Using a set of structured questions encourages both broad and deep analysis of your situation or problem.

Problem Solving Skill
This is a useful tool to help you find the right problems to solve. Asking “why not” is an effective way to seek innovation and encourage creativity.

The Power of Positive Thinking: 5 Questions to Transform Problem Solving
Go from problem-solving to opportunity-creating using the power of positive thinking. This tool also uses 5 problem solving questions to help you radically change the way you solve problems.

You may want to read a comprehensive Seven Step Problem Solving Process with links to a wide range of tools to help you solve problems in our article. Alternatively if you want a quick over view read our manage in a minute article: 7 Problem Solving Steps.

Still pressed for time? Follow this link for the full list of Manage in a Minute pages.


Where to go from here:


Related Products:

Read more like this:

7 Problem Solving Steps

… 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... read more

Asking Good Questions

Asking Good Questions: In a Minute? We think asking good questions is the one of the keys to good management. The trouble is, how easy is it to... read more

Read previous post:
Fun at work matters!

Encouraging fun at work can yield real benefits in the workplace, according to Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. They write...