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What is Problem Solving? Steps, Process & Techniques

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Quality Glossary Definition: Problem solving

Problem solving is the act of defining a problem; determining the cause of the problem; identifying, prioritizing, and selecting alternatives for a solution; and implementing a solution.

  • The problem-solving process
  • Problem solving resources

Problem Solving Chart

In order to effectively manage and run a successful organization, leadership must guide their employees and develop problem-solving techniques. Finding a suitable solution for issues can be accomplished by following the basic four-step problem-solving process and methodology outlined below.

Step Characteristics
1. Define the problem
  • Differentiate fact from opinion
  • Specify underlying causes
  • Consult each faction involved for information
  • State the problem specifically
  • Identify what standard or expectation is violated
  • Determine in which process the problem lies
  • Avoid trying to solve the problem without data
2. Generate alternative solutions
  • Postpone evaluating alternatives initially
  • Include all involved individuals in the generating of alternatives
  • Specify alternatives consistent with organizational goals
  • Specify short- and long-term alternatives
  • Brainstorm on others' ideas
  • Seek alternatives that may solve the problem
3. Evaluate and select an alternative
  • Evaluate alternatives relative to a target standard
  • Evaluate all alternatives without bias
  • Evaluate alternatives relative to established goals
  • Evaluate both proven and possible outcomes
  • State the selected alternative explicitly
4. Implement and follow up on the solution
  • Plan and implement a pilot test of the chosen alternative
  • Gather feedback from all affected parties
  • Seek acceptance or consensus by all those affected
  • Establish ongoing measures and monitoring
  • Evaluate long-term results based on final solution


Define the problem

Diagnose the situation so that your focus is on the problem, not just its symptoms. Helpful problem-solving techniques include using flowcharts to identify the expected steps of a process and cause-and-effect diagrams to define and analyze root causes.

The sections below help explain key problem-solving steps. These steps support the involvement of interested parties, the use of factual information, comparison of expectations to reality, and a focus on root causes of a problem. You should begin by:

  • Reviewing and documenting how processes currently work (i.e., who does what, with what information, using what tools, communicating with what organizations and individuals, in what time frame, using what format).
  • Evaluating the possible impact of new tools and revised policies in the development of your "what should be" model.

2. Generate alternative solutions

Postpone the selection of one solution until several problem-solving alternatives have been proposed. Considering multiple alternatives can significantly enhance the value of your ideal solution. Once you have decided on the "what should be" model, this target standard becomes the basis for developing a road map for investigating alternatives. Brainstorming and team problem-solving techniques are both useful tools in this stage of problem solving.

Many alternative solutions to the problem should be generated before final evaluation. A common mistake in problem solving is that alternatives are evaluated as they are proposed, so the first acceptable solution is chosen, even if it’s not the best fit. If we focus on trying to get the results we want, we miss the potential for learning something new that will allow for real improvement in the problem-solving process.

3. Evaluate and select an alternative

Skilled problem solvers use a series of considerations when selecting the best alternative. They consider the extent to which:

  • A particular alternative will solve the problem without causing other unanticipated problems.
  • All the individuals involved will accept the alternative.
  • Implementation of the alternative is likely.
  • The alternative fits within the organizational constraints.

4. Implement and follow up on the solution

Leaders may be called upon to direct others to implement the solution, "sell" the solution, or facilitate the implementation with the help of others. Involving others in the implementation is an effective way to gain buy-in and support and minimize resistance to subsequent changes.

Regardless of how the solution is rolled out, feedback channels should be built into the implementation. This allows for continuous monitoring and testing of actual events against expectations. Problem solving, and the techniques used to gain clarity, are most effective if the solution remains in place and is updated to respond to future changes.

You can also search articles, case studies, and publications for problem solving resources.


Innovative Business Management Using TRIZ

Introduction To 8D Problem Solving: Including Practical Applications and Examples

The Quality Toolbox

Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action


One Good Idea: Some Sage Advice (Quality Progress) The person with the problem just wants it to go away quickly, and the problem-solvers also want to resolve it in as little time as possible because they have other responsibilities. Whatever the urgency, effective problem-solvers have the self-discipline to develop a complete description of the problem.

Diagnostic Quality Problem Solving: A Conceptual Framework And Six Strategies (Quality Management Journal) This paper contributes a conceptual framework for the generic process of diagnosis in quality problem solving by identifying its activities and how they are related.

Weathering The Storm (Quality Progress) Even in the most contentious circumstances, this approach describes how to sustain customer-supplier relationships during high-stakes problem solving situations to actually enhance customer-supplier relationships.

The Right Questions (Quality Progress) All problem solving begins with a problem description. Make the most of problem solving by asking effective questions.

Solving the Problem (Quality Progress) Brush up on your problem-solving skills and address the primary issues with these seven methods.

Case Studies

Refreshing Louisville Metro’s Problem-Solving System (Journal for Quality and Participation) Organization-wide transformation can be tricky, especially when it comes to sustaining any progress made over time. In Louisville Metro, a government organization based in Kentucky, many strategies were used to enact and sustain meaningful transformation.


Quality Improvement Associate Certification--CQIA


Certified Quality Improvement Associate Question Bank

Lean Problem-Solving Tools

Problem Solving Using A3

Root Cause Analysis: Solve Problems by Eliminations Causes

Quality 101


Making the Connection In this exclusive QP webcast, Jack ReVelle, ASQ Fellow and author, shares how quality tools can be combined to create a powerful problem-solving force.

Adapted from The Executive Guide to Improvement and Change, ASQ Quality Press.

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Problem-Solving Skills - A 10 Step Guide

When you are faced with a problem, how do you go about solving it? Do you let it overwhelm you, or do you flex your problem-solving muscles and figure out the best solution?

People who throw themselves at their problems or allow themselves to be overwhelmed often become frantic and confused. They usually end up taking a haphazard approach to thinking, and then they are amazed when they find themselves floundering and making no progress.

Luckily, there is a much better way.

I’d like to introduce you to a problem-solving process that can help you face and tackle any type of challenge. With these 10 problem-solving strategies, you will strengthen your abilities to always find a solution while enabling yourself to see real progress.

Once you begin to execute this approach, you will no longer shudder at the first sign of a problem and instead feel confident to face it right away.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills are essential in all areas of your life. But before we discuss these key skills, we first need to define what a problem actually is.

What Is A Problem?

A problem can be defined in one of two ways:

“Any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty; a question proposed for solution or discussion.

The Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning explains that a problem:

“…is generally considered to be a task, a situation, or person which is difficult to deal with or control due to complexity and transparency. In everyday language, a problem is a question proposed for a solution, a matter stated for examination or proof.”

In short, a problem is something that’s hard to deal with and needs to be solved.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that we encounter all kinds of problems in our lives every day, from small things like getting stuck in traffic to major events like being diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Examples of common problems in the workplace might include:

  • Lack of motivation and/or boredom
  • Discrimination
  • Conflict with boss and/or coworkers
  • Performance issues
  • Burnout and/or stress
  • Bad working conditions

Or maybe you’re dealing with problems in your personal life. For example:

  • A strained marriage or divorce
  • Financial worries
  • Health issues
  • Grief over the death of loved ones

No matter what you’re facing, it’s important to actively cultivate your creative thinking and learn problem-solving techniques. 

When you’re able to solve problems effectively, you will enjoy greater satisfaction in life. Your relational skills will improve and your problem-solving abilities will make you a hot commodity in the workplace.

The Importance of Problem-Solving

We solve problems daily in all aspects of life. People who are good problem solvers are more likely to be successful in getting around obstacles and achieving their desired end result.

What’s more, solving problems doesn’t only help change your external circumstances. You’ll also feel happier and more confident in yourself, knowing you can solve future problems. 

Problem-solving allows you to:

  • Fix things that are broken
  • Address risk
  • Improve performance
  • Seize opportunity

The ability to solve problems will make you more attractive to hiring managers. In many cases, you might be asked in a job interview about your problem-solving skills. 

It’s smart to think of an example ahead of time–a problem that came up at your last job and how you solved it–so you’ll be prepared. You can also mention the soft skills listed above: 

“My communication skills, flexibility, and ability to think outside the box help me deal with problems in a timely manner.

The Problem-Solving Process

If you’re setting out to solve a problem, what should you do first?

This is a difficult question to answer because every problem is so different. It’s hard to define a one-size-fits-all approach to problem-solving. However, there is a general framework that you can use to help solve problems.

The problem-solving process is often broken down into seven steps:

  1. Identify the issue and its root cause
  2. Understand every angle of the problem
  3. List possible solutions
  4. Evaluate the options
  5. Choose an option
  6. Act on it
  7. Evaluate the results

I’ll explain this process and each of these steps, plus a few bonus steps, in more detail later in this post.

The important thing to understand now, though, is that you can use a structured process to improve problem-solving skills. You don’t have to shoot in the dark–simply follow the steps listed in this process.

Problem-Solving Skills

More good news: The process outlined above isn’t the only way to solve complex problems.

You can also work on things like your communication skills, analytical skills, and other key skills in life that will make you a better problem solver.

These soft skills go hand in hand with being able to come up with solutions quickly.

So what kind of skills should you cultivate to become a better problem-solver?

Focus on the following:

  • Brainstorming
  • Data gathering
  • Creative thinking
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Analysis
  • Time management
  • Troubleshooting
  • Initiative
  • Flexibility

I know this is a long list, but you don’t have to do everything at once.

Even more, chances are you’ve already picked up some of these skills in your daily life without even realizing it. But keeping these skills in mind as you practice solving problems will help you become better at not only working through problems, but at everything you do.

10 Problem-Solving Steps To Follow

In this 10-step problem-solving process, I’ll walk you through how to identify and implement the right solution to the problem at hand. In learning these steps, you will develop your critical thinking and elevate your problem-solving skills.

1. Have A Positive Approach

When a problem arises, it’s easy to enter panic mode or envision worst-case scenarios. Before you let your mind go there, take a step back and address every problem as simply another situation.

It is a challenge that, with the right approach, you can handle. Part of that approach is thinking positively and creatively about the situation.

When figuring out ways to use creative thinking for problem-solving, I like to explore how geniuses solve challenges. They think outside the box, keep an open mind, and take a systematic approach.

It all starts with thinking positively about the problem.

Remember: it is a situation, not a problem.

Problems are a fact of life; you can’t control when or how they occur but you can control your attitude. The more positive your language is, the more confident and optimistic you will be when approaching any complication.

How can you develop a more positive outlook on life? This mindset shift can take some time. 

You can’t snap your fingers and instantly become a more positive person overnight. However, there are actionable steps you can take to be more positive.

Start by focusing on the good things in your life. Yes, you have problems, but you have good things too. If you’re struggling to come up with anything that makes you smile, consider keeping a gratitude journal where you make an entry every day.

I also recommend positive affirmations and self-talk. Repeat phrases to yourself such as “There are good things in my life,” “I can come up with creative solutions,” or “I have good problem solving skills.

And of course, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are equally as positive and upbeat as you’re trying to be.

2. Define The Problem

What exactly is the challenge you are facing? What about this particular situation is causing you stress and anxiety? You must clearly define the problem to resolve it.

Not only should you clarify what the problem is, but you should also see what caused the problem. If you can’t conclude the cause of the problem, you may need to meet with other parties involved to determine the root before moving forward.

If you are working with a group, it’s important to write and rewrite the problem until everyone agrees that the problem is clearly and correctly defined. When the issue is clearly defined, the solution may be obvious. But you may never find the solution at all if the problem isn’t defined.

Need help figuring out where to start? Refer to the list of problems included above. Remember, a problem is something that’s hard to deal with and needs to be changed or solved.

3. Think Creatively

As I mentioned in the first step, geniuses solve issues with out-of-the-box thinking. So you need to see the problem from every angle before you begin offering solutions.

You should think: Are there other problems that are affecting this obstacle? If so, you need to address it first.

It can be easy to have tunnel vision when you’re problem-solving, but there are usually multiple things at play with any dilemma. Zoom out from the situation at hand and see all contributing factors to the issue and listen to everyone’s point of view.

Meeting with others who may be involved in the process can offer you more brainpower to shed light on the problem. That’s why teamwork is so important. You can work together to look at what the issue is affecting, what is affecting it, and how to solve it.

It might feel as if you can work faster on your own. But when you collaborate with others, you’ll be able to come up with higher quality solutions.

In fact, statistics show that 86% of employees and executives say lack of collaboration or ineffective communication causes workplace failures.

Don’t be afraid to sit down with people involved in the problem to work things out. People outside the problem can also offer a valuable third-party opinion. Their advice and ideas may actually be more helpful because they don’t have a personal stake in the issue.

4. Brainstorm Solutions

Part of addressing the situation from different directions is to come up with not just one but several solutions. There are likely to be multiple solutions to any single problem.

The first conclusion that comes to mind may not be the best one, but the more you focus, the more solutions you will find. That’s why brainstorming all possible resolutions is an essential step to problem-solving.

If you’re brainstorming together with a group of others, make sure to define a clear goal for the brainstorming session before you begin. Allow people time before the meeting to reflect on the problem. This will allow them to come prepared with ideas.

Throughout the session, record any suggestions that come up. You can write them on a physical whiteboard so that everyone can see them, or simply jot them down in a digital folder. Share these notes with attendees post-meeting and assign any follow-up tasks.

As you brainstorm, it’s a good idea to consider the “ideal solution.” If you were to discover one way to answer every pain point you outlined when you defined the problem, what would that be? What would it accomplish?

Defining your end goal will help inspire unique ways you can get there. It can also help to pose the problem as a question and come up with conclusions to that question.

After brainstorming all potential solutions, ask yourself, “What solution will produce the best outcome?”

5. Find The Best Solution


Now, not all possible solutions you outlined will be a good fit. You should be able to narrow down each method and see which is the most effective for your issue.

Do this by comparing each of the results with the one you believe to be the most ideal. Which one is the best under the current circumstances? What will successfully solve the problem?

It might take some time to work through each of your potential solutions. Some will quickly weed themselves out. In other cases, though, don’t be afraid to spend some time thinking about how a given solution would work.

After looking in-depth at the various approaches, decide on the best solution for the situation.

6. Prepare For the Worst

Before you jump at the chance to solve your problem with the best-fit solution, consider the repercussions of the solution. 

Now is the time to jump to worst-case scenarios–What will happen if the solution fails? Knowing the answer to this will allow you to prepare if it doesn’t resolve your dilemma.

Even if at first you don’t succeed, you will learn something in the end. Don’t take it as a failure.

Instead, accept that it didn’t work and try something new. Thankfully, you already have a list of alternative solutions that can help you find the right one.

Preparing for the worst is not about thinking negatively. Remember: The power of positive thinking will allow you to uncover more solutions. If you can train your mind to think this way, the more solution-oriented you will become.

Instead, thinking through worst-case scenarios is simply being realistic. This allows you to create a Plan B. 

If one solution doesn’t work, which solution will you try next? Come up with a backup plan. You might move on to the next solution on your shortlist, or you might tweak things and continue working with your #1 idea.

Preparing for the worst allows you to end up with the best possible solution.

7. Set A Deadline

The next of my 10 problem-solving strategies is to create a timeframe for your solution. Determine:

  • When to implement the solution
  • How long it will take to complete
  • When you expect to see results

What actions are necessary to meet this deadline and who will be accomplishing it? List out the tasks needed and assign each one to an appropriate person.

It’s important to not only set a deadline, but also place standards on how you will measure its success. How will you know that you’re making progress? How will you compare the success of this solution against the success of another?

Determine what key performance indicators will allow you to measure the success of your outcomes and set a series of short-term deadlines to report. Clearly communicate these benchmarks with everyone involved.

Make sure people understand how you’re choosing to measure success, so they can be successful by your standards.

8. Take Responsibility

Now that you’ve found the solution to the problem, consider how it will impact the situation if it works or if it doesn’t.

If your outcome doesn’t work, that’s okay, but it is your job to accept responsibility. Be ready to admit any mistakes and continue working to make things right.

Some of the most creative ideas never transpire because no one is assigned the authority to carry out the decision.

Taking responsibility for your decision doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be the one to implement it. There may be various people involved in the problem and different jobs required to accomplish the solution.

By taking responsibility for the decision you make, you’ll ensure that everyone involved knows what job they need to do, when they need to do it by, and how the successful or unsuccessful completion of that job is defined.

9. Solve Your Problem

Now, it’s finally time to take action.

Execute your solution so you can reach your defined goals and learn what works best. Continue communicating with everyone on board as you all work together to solve the problem.

However, not every problem will be solved easily.

You may encounter additional obstacles as you attempt to solve the initial problem. You can overcome any drawback by tapping into your creative mind and taking action consistently and persistently until you reach your goal.

As you work hard, you can develop your capacity to achieve more in the future. Every time you successfully solve a problem, you are developing your analytical skills, communication skills, and problem solving abilities. You’re also increasing your confidence.

Next time you need to solve a problem, you can look back on the successful jobs you’ve done before.

10. Track Your Results

The final step of my problem-solving process is to track the results. Using the deadlines, KPIs, and scheduled reports you set in step seven will let you know immediately if you’re on track or falling behind.

When you reach your deadline, ask yourself if you met the goals you set out to achieve.

What worked and what didn’t work? Did you solve the problem? Did you solve it with the approach and timeframe you expected?

Answering these questions will allow you to understand if you need to take further action and help you improve your problem-solving methods for the future.

The best way to learn to problem solve is to simply do it. Jump in with both feet and start coming up with potential solutions to issues that need fixing. Over time, you’ll learn about problem solving without even realizing it.

However, in addition to learning “on the job,” you can also take courses to help boost your skills. 

Studying subjects like project management or data analysis are good ways to help you succeed in identifying problems, thinking of better solutions, and leading others with good communication as you work together to put your solutions in place.

Problem Solving Skills to Start Using Today

You don’t need to feel overwhelmed and confused when a problem arises anymore. Stress and unhappiness are simply byproducts from how you respond to those situations. 

When you enhance your problem-solving skills, you will experience determination and a sense of calmness when the next difficult situation arises.

While you may not know how to resolve most issues right away, you will know the problem-solving steps to take to uncover the best response: Define the problem, determine the cause, discover the best solution, take action, and analyze the outcome.

Follow this process over and over again and you will creatively solve your problems. After all, effective problem solving is a skill that you can develop with practice.

If you’re looking to advance your skills in order to achieve your goals, get started with my Personal Development Plan. 

This resource is a good fit for someone who wants to achieve their goals and optimize their success. I walk you through how to set goals and plan ahead the right way. As you advance your problem-solving skills, you will experience more success in your daily life–for big picture items and small ones alike.

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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

Ways to solve complex problems at work (and not only)

Solving complex problems can be difficult, but does not have to be painful. All it takes is the right mindset and the right process. Fortunately, there are many techniques available to help resolve any problems you may encounter at work.

When you face a difficult task, where do you start? And what problem-solving techniques can you use right now?

In today's post, you'll find some tips and tricky problem solving techniques that will allow you to solve any problem with the confidence of a pro.

How many stages can the problem solving process be divided into?

At its core, problem solving is a four-step process. You may even remember these steps from the basics of the scientific method.

  1. Problem must first be identified. What is its reason? How did you know it even existed?
  2. You then identify possible solutions to the problem. What ideas come to your mind?
  3. Then you need evaluate the options for and choose the most successful of them. Which option is best? What is the easiest? Which one to give preference?
  4. Finally, apply the selected option . Did he solve the problem? Is it worth trying another way?

When applying problem-solving methods, some variation on these four steps will always serve as your foundation.

Conclusion: before solving a problem, try to fully understand it.

Creative problem solving

Get creative! You probably expected this to be a list of non-standard brainstorming solutions. Not really.

Creative problem solving (CPS) is actually a formal process described by Sidney Parnes and Alex Faickney Osborn, who is considered the father of traditional brainstorming.

Their creative problem solving process emphasizes several points:

  • Separate idea generation and evaluation . When you're brainstorming, take the time to capture all the ideas. Generate as many ideas as possible. Don't rate or prioritize until you've finished brainstorming.
  • Rating ruins everything . Nothing is more detrimental to the flow of creative ideas than evaluating them. Wait until the end of the assault before you start judging.
  • Reframe problems into questions . It will be easier to encourage the group to come up with creative solutions if the problem is presented in the form of a question with a non-standard answer.
  • "Yes and" will help develop the idea of ​​ . Here is one of the basic rules of improvisation: any idea can be ruined by the word "but" (for example, "but I think it's better ..."). Avoid him at all costs. Instead, expand on what was said earlier by starting with “yes, and” so that the team continues to generate and develop ideas.

Takeaway: When brainstorming, start generating ideas by asking questions and building on existing ideas. All evaluations and judgments can be made later.

Psychological advice for problem solving

If we look at the history of problem solving techniques in psychology, we will find many interesting ideas that may well be useful.

Start from experience

In 1911, American psychologist Edward Thorndike observed cats trying to get out of the cage he placed them in. Based on this experiment, Thorndike developed his law of effect, which is as follows: if you succeed through trial and error, then when the same problem occurs, you are more likely to take the actions that led to your success the first time.

Conclusion: past experience can shed light on the problem you are facing now. Remember. Explore.

Obstacles to reproductive thinking

Thorndike's ideas were taken up and developed by supporters of Gestalt psychology, who claimed that problems could be solved with the help of reproductive thinking . It has nothing to do with sex - its meaning is that the reproduction of previous experience can help solve the current problem.

Gestalt psychology is interesting because of the way its adherents view obstacles to problem solving. Here are two of them:

1. Are you obsessed? This means that you are stuck on a solution that has worked well in the past but is not relevant to the current problem. Are you so fixated on a technique or idea that you use it even if it doesn't work? As Princess Elsa sang, "Let go and forget!"

2. Do you think of alternatives? There is a cognitive distortion called functional fixity. It can kill all your creativity by making you see only the traditional features of the object.

For example, if you need to cut a piece of paper, and you only have a ruler, functional fixity will not allow you to distract yourself from the idea that a ruler can only measure objects. (Though you can iron a folded sheet with a ruler, so it will be easier to tear it in half. )

Conclusion: do not look for standard solutions! And by standard, we mean the past experience that you cling to, or any preconceived ideas about how a given tool should be used.

Other tools for problem solving

Tim Hurson Productive Thinking Model
In Think Better , author and creative thinking guru Tim Herson proposed a 6-step model for creative problem solving. The steps in the Productive Thinking Model are:

1. Ask, "What's going on?" Identify the problem, its impact on the company, and then your vision for the future.
2. Ask: "What does success mean?" Determine how the solution should work, what resources it needs, what its scope is, and what values ​​it supports.
3. Ask: "What is the question?" Make a complete list of questions that will solve the problem.
4. Find answers . Answer the questions from step 3.
5. Formulate a solution . Evaluate valuable ideas against the criteria from Step 2. Choose a solution.
6. Pick up resources . Determine what people and resources are needed to complete the solution.

Draw an Ishikawa diagram for cause analysis
The most important part of identifying a problem is to explore the possible cause of the problem. You will have to ask yourself questions like: where and when is this happening? How does this happen? Who is this happening to? Why is this happening?

You can get to the root cause using the Ishikawa diagram (also called the cause-and-effect diagram and the fishbone diagram).

On the right side of the diagram we place the consequence, using it as a problem statement. We then list all possible causes on the left, grouping them into larger categories. The resulting diagram resembles a fish skeleton.

Use the analogy to find a solution.
Analogies are another useful tool. "Thinking by analogy" uses information from one area to solve a problem in another. The bottom line is that we find a way to solve the current problem by using the solution to another problem. But be careful! For beginners, working with analogies is not easy, you need to get used to them.

Example: A doctor has a patient with an inoperable tumor. A doctor may use radiation therapy to remove the tumor, but it will also destroy healthy tissue.

Two researchers, Geek and Holyoke, noted that it was much easier for people to decide what to do as a doctor if they had previously read a story about a general who needed to capture the royal fortress, but at the same time try to avoid mines that would detonate if they walked through the streets a large army will pass. The general sends small detachments of soldiers along different streets, so that the army gathers near the fortress at the same time and storms it with all its might.

Ask 12 “what else?” questions
In the book The Architecture of Abundance , Lenidra J. Carroll describes a question-and-answer problem-solving technique.

In short, when a problem arises, ask yourself a question about it and find 12 solutions to the problem (12 “what else?”). Then you can take one of these options, turn it into a question, and come up with 12 more "what else." And repeat until the solution is completely ready and it can be taken out of the oven.

Start using these techniques now

We hope you find these techniques useful and that your imagination will begin to flow with solutions to various problems.

If this happens, then you have four statements that you can use when faced with the next problem:

  1. Don't start by trying to solve the problem. First try to understand its cause.
  2. Ask questions - they will help find solutions to the problem.
  3. Remember how previous problems were solved - this may help solve the current one.
  4. Before trying to solve a problem, get rid of preconceived notions and past experiences.

Seven Simple Steps to Solving Problems - Career on

Each of us sooner or later faces problems, in personal life or at work. There are many techniques for solving them, but they all agree on one thing - one step is not enough for a complete cycle of solving a problem.


Consider a method consisting of 7 steps.

Step one. Definition of problem

First of all, you need to pinpoint the problem in order to find the right solution.

As a rule, with the correct formulation of the problem, you will be surprised how easy it will be to find the answer to the question of what needs to be done to solve the problem.

Step two. Studying Problem

The next step, after formulating the problem, is to study it. It is necessary to consider the problem from different angles. This allows you to find the most suitable solution for the problem.

Step three. Goal setting

After you have analyzed the problem in detail, it is time to set yourself a goal - What will be the criteria for solving the problem?

Need to define short-term goals to achieve the criteria for solving the problem. The choice of a way of solving the problem depends on these goals. The SMART framework is most suitable for formulating a goal.

Separately, it is worth making sure that all persons involved in the process are aware of the problem and understand and accept the goal set for its solution.

Fourth step. Search for alternatives

After defining the goal, the search for a solution to the problem begins. The more ways to solve the problem will be found, the greater the chance to find the most profitable way for you.

To fully evaluate the options, it is recommended that you do not go it alone and collect feedback from those who are interested in the solution.

Step five. Choice of solution

Once the solution options have been identified and evaluated, it is time to select the most appropriate solution that meets the criteria.

The final choice should be based on the assessments of the people who are interested in the decision and yours. We must not forget about the consequences of the decision, you need to carefully model them and take them into account when choosing.

It is important to pay attention not only to the simplicity and beauty of the solution, but also to predictability; it makes no sense to consider the solution if it is not controllable.

Step six. Implementation

Once a decision has been made, a plan must be prepared to implement it. Look at it, does it satisfy you, are there any additional benefits from its implementation?

For a more complete analysis, discuss the implementation plan with all participants in the implementation. Opinion from the outside allows you to see hidden risks.

Step seven. Evaluation of results

You've gone all the way from problem definition to solution, but that doesn't mean your job is done. To finally solve the problem, it is necessary to evaluate the results. Answer the following questions for yourself:

  • How effective was the solution?
  • Success criteria met?
  • What are the consequences of solving the problem?

After answering these questions, you may come to the conclusion that the problem has not been completely resolved. But this is not a reason to be upset, often, problem solving is an iterative process, and in order to finally resolve the problem, one must go through these seven steps again.


If the problem is fixed and the solution did not create negative consequences, then we can assume that the problem has been completely solved. Now you need not to forget, but it is better to fix somewhere the way to solve the problem, so that in the future, when you encounter a similar problem, you already have its solution.

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