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Overview of the Problem-Solving Mental Process

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

the last step in the problem solving process is to

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

the last step in the problem solving process is to

  • Identify the Problem
  • Define the Problem
  • Form a Strategy
  • Organize Information
  • Allocate Resources
  • Monitor Progress
  • Evaluate the Results

Frequently Asked Questions

Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.

The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off learning everything they can about the issue and then using factual knowledge to come up with a solution. In other instances, creativity and insight are the best options.

It is not necessary to follow problem-solving steps sequentially, It is common to skip steps or even go back through steps multiple times until the desired solution is reached.

In order to correctly solve a problem, it is often important to follow a series of steps. Researchers sometimes refer to this as the problem-solving cycle. While this cycle is portrayed sequentially, people rarely follow a rigid series of steps to find a solution.

The following steps include developing strategies and organizing knowledge.

1. Identifying the Problem

While it may seem like an obvious step, identifying the problem is not always as simple as it sounds. In some cases, people might mistakenly identify the wrong source of a problem, which will make attempts to solve it inefficient or even useless.

Some strategies that you might use to figure out the source of a problem include :

  • Asking questions about the problem
  • Breaking the problem down into smaller pieces
  • Looking at the problem from different perspectives
  • Conducting research to figure out what relationships exist between different variables

2. Defining the Problem

After the problem has been identified, it is important to fully define the problem so that it can be solved. You can define a problem by operationally defining each aspect of the problem and setting goals for what aspects of the problem you will address

At this point, you should focus on figuring out which aspects of the problems are facts and which are opinions. State the problem clearly and identify the scope of the solution.

3. Forming a Strategy

After the problem has been identified, it is time to start brainstorming potential solutions. This step usually involves generating as many ideas as possible without judging their quality. Once several possibilities have been generated, they can be evaluated and narrowed down.

The next step is to develop a strategy to solve the problem. The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the individual's unique preferences. Common problem-solving strategies include heuristics and algorithms.

  • Heuristics are mental shortcuts that are often based on solutions that have worked in the past. They can work well if the problem is similar to something you have encountered before and are often the best choice if you need a fast solution.
  • Algorithms are step-by-step strategies that are guaranteed to produce a correct result. While this approach is great for accuracy, it can also consume time and resources.

Heuristics are often best used when time is of the essence, while algorithms are a better choice when a decision needs to be as accurate as possible.

4. Organizing Information

Before coming up with a solution, you need to first organize the available information. What do you know about the problem? What do you not know? The more information that is available the better prepared you will be to come up with an accurate solution.

When approaching a problem, it is important to make sure that you have all the data you need. Making a decision without adequate information can lead to biased or inaccurate results.

5. Allocating Resources

Of course, we don't always have unlimited money, time, and other resources to solve a problem. Before you begin to solve a problem, you need to determine how high priority it is.

If it is an important problem, it is probably worth allocating more resources to solving it. If, however, it is a fairly unimportant problem, then you do not want to spend too much of your available resources on coming up with a solution.

At this stage, it is important to consider all of the factors that might affect the problem at hand. This includes looking at the available resources, deadlines that need to be met, and any possible risks involved in each solution. After careful evaluation, a decision can be made about which solution to pursue.

6. Monitoring Progress

After selecting a problem-solving strategy, it is time to put the plan into action and see if it works. This step might involve trying out different solutions to see which one is the most effective.

It is also important to monitor the situation after implementing a solution to ensure that the problem has been solved and that no new problems have arisen as a result of the proposed solution.

Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress as they work towards a solution. If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies .

7. Evaluating the Results

After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the results to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem. This evaluation might be immediate, such as checking the results of a math problem to ensure the answer is correct, or it can be delayed, such as evaluating the success of a therapy program after several months of treatment.

Once a problem has been solved, it is important to take some time to reflect on the process that was used and evaluate the results. This will help you to improve your problem-solving skills and become more efficient at solving future problems.

A Word From Verywell​

It is important to remember that there are many different problem-solving processes with different steps, and this is just one example. Problem-solving in real-world situations requires a great deal of resourcefulness, flexibility, resilience, and continuous interaction with the environment.

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You can become a better problem solving by:

  • Practicing brainstorming and coming up with multiple potential solutions to problems
  • Being open-minded and considering all possible options before making a decision
  • Breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Researching different problem-solving techniques and trying out new ones
  • Learning from mistakes and using them as opportunities to grow

It's important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about what's going on. Try to see things from their perspective as well as your own. Work together to find a resolution that works for both of you. Be willing to compromise and accept that there may not be a perfect solution.

Take breaks if things are getting too heated, and come back to the problem when you feel calm and collected. Don't try to fix every problem on your own—consider asking a therapist or counselor for help and insight.

If you've tried everything and there doesn't seem to be a way to fix the problem, you may have to learn to accept it. This can be difficult, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your life and remember that every situation is temporary. Don't dwell on what's going wrong—instead, think about what's going right. Find support by talking to friends or family. Seek professional help if you're having trouble coping.

Davidson JE, Sternberg RJ, editors.  The Psychology of Problem Solving .  Cambridge University Press; 2003. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511615771

Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. Published 2018 Jun 26. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

StrategyPunk

Master the 7-Step Problem-Solving Process for Better Decision-Making

Discover the powerful 7-Step Problem-Solving Process to make better decisions and achieve better outcomes. Master the art of problem-solving in this comprehensive guide. Download the Free PowerPoint and PDF Template.

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StrategyPunk

Master the 7-Step Problem-Solving Process for Better Decision-Making

Introduction

Mastering the art of problem-solving is crucial for making better decisions. Whether you're a student, a business owner, or an employee, problem-solving skills can help you tackle complex issues and find practical solutions. The 7-Step Problem-Solving Process is a proven method that can help you approach problems systematically and efficiently.

The 7-Step Problem-Solving Process involves steps that guide you through the problem-solving process. The first step is to define the problem, followed by disaggregating the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. Next, you prioritize the features and create a work plan to address each. Then, you analyze each piece, synthesize the information, and communicate your findings to others.

By following this process, you can avoid jumping to conclusions, overlooking important details, or making hasty decisions. Instead, you can approach problems with a clear and structured mindset, which can help you make better decisions and achieve better outcomes.

In this article, we'll explore each step of the 7-Step Problem-Solving Process in detail so you can start mastering this valuable skill. At the end of the blog post, you can download the process's free PowerPoint and PDF templates .

the last step in the problem solving process is to

Step 1: Define the Problem

The first step in the problem-solving process is to define the problem. This step is crucial because if the problem is not clearly defined, finding a solution won't be easy. The problem must be defined in a specific, measurable, and achievable way.

One way to define the problem is to ask the right questions. Questions like "What is the problem?" and "What are the causes of the problem?" can help to define the problem. It is also essential to gather data and information about the problem to assist in the definition process.

Another critical aspect of defining the problem is to identify the stakeholders. Who is affected by the problem? Who has a stake in finding a solution? Identifying the stakeholders can help ensure that the problem is defined in a way that considers the needs and concerns of all those affected by the problem.

Once the problem is defined, it is essential to communicate the definition to all stakeholders. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a shared understanding of the problem.

Step 2: Disaggregate

After defining the problem, the next step in the 7-step problem-solving process is to disaggregate the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. Disaggregation helps break down the problem into smaller pieces that can be analyzed individually. This step is crucial in understanding the root cause of the problem and identifying the most effective solutions.

Disaggregation can be achieved by breaking down the problem into sub-problems, identifying the factors contributing to the problem, and analyzing the relationships between these factors. This step helps identify the most critical factors that must be addressed to solve the problem.

One effective way to disaggregate a problem is using a tree or fishbone diagram. These diagrams help identify the different factors contributing to the problem and how they are related. Another way is to use a table to list the other factors contributing to the problem and their corresponding impact on the problem.

Disaggregation helps in breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts. It helps understand the relationships between different factors contributing to the problem and identify the most critical factors that must be addressed. By disaggregating the problem, decision-makers can focus on the most vital areas, leading to more effective solutions.

Step 3: Prioritize

After defining the problem and disaggregating it into smaller parts, the next step in the 7-step problem-solving process is prioritizing the issues that need addressing. Prioritizing helps to focus on the most pressing issues and allocate resources more effectively.

There are several ways to prioritize issues, including:

  • Urgency: Prioritize issues based on how urgent they are. Problems that require immediate attention should be dealt with first.
  • Impact: Prioritize issues based on their impact on the organization or stakeholders. Problems that have a high effect should be given priority.
  • Resources: Prioritize issues based on the resources required to address them. Problems that require fewer resources should be dealt with first.

It is important to involve stakeholders in the prioritization process to consider their concerns and needs. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or other forms of engagement.

Once the issues have been prioritized, developing a plan of action to address them is essential. This involves identifying the resources required, setting timelines, and assigning responsibilities.

Prioritizing issues is a critical step in the problem-solving process. Organizations can allocate resources more effectively and make better decisions by focusing on the most pressing issues.

Step 4: Workplan

After defining the problem, disaggregating, and prioritizing the issues, the next step in the 7-step problem-solving process is to develop a work plan. This step involves creating a roadmap that outlines the steps needed to solve the problem.

The work plan should include a list of tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities for each team member involved in the problem-solving process. Assigning tasks based on each team member's strengths and expertise ensures the work is completed efficiently and effectively.

Creating a work plan can help keep the team on track and ensure everyone is working towards the same goal. It can also help to identify potential roadblocks or challenges that may arise during the problem-solving process and develop contingency plans to address them.

Several tools and techniques can be used to develop a work plan, including Gantt charts, flowcharts, and mind maps. These tools can help to visualize the steps needed to solve the problem and identify dependencies between tasks.

Developing a work plan is a critical step in the problem-solving process. It provides a clear roadmap for solving the problem and ensures everyone involved is aligned and working towards the same goal.

Step 5: Analysis

Once the problem has been defined and disaggregated, the next step is to analyze the information gathered. This step involves examining the data, identifying patterns, and determining the root cause of the problem.

Several methods can be used during the analysis phase, including:

  • Root cause analysis
  • Pareto analysis
  • SWOT analysis

Root cause analysis is a popular method used to identify the underlying cause of a problem. This method involves asking a series of "why" questions to get to the root cause of the issue.

Pareto analysis is another method that can be used during the analysis phase. This method involves identifying the 20% of causes responsible for 80% of the problems. By focusing on these critical causes, organizations can make significant improvements.

Finally, SWOT analysis is a valuable tool for analyzing the internal and external factors that may impact the problem. This method involves identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to the issue.

Overall, the analysis phase is critical for identifying the root cause of the problem and developing practical solutions. Organizations can gain a deeper understanding of the issue and make informed decisions by using a combination of methods.

Step 6: Synthesize

Once the analysis phase is complete, it is time to synthesize the information gathered to arrive at a solution. During this step, the focus is on identifying the most viable solution that addresses the problem. This involves examining the analysis results and combining them to lead to a clear and concise conclusion.

One way to synthesize the information is to use a decision matrix. This involves creating a table that lists the potential solutions and the essential criteria in making a decision. Each answer is then rated against each standard, and the scores are tallied to arrive at a final decision.

Another approach to synthesizing the information is to use a mind map. This involves creating a visual representation of the problem and the potential solutions. The mind map can identify the relationships between the different pieces of information andhelp prioritize the solutions.

During the synthesis phase, remaining open-minded and considering all potential solutions is vital. It is also essential to involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process to ensure that everyone's perspectives are considered.

Step 7: Communicate

After synthesizing the information, the next step is communicating the findings to the relevant stakeholders. This is a crucial step because it helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the decision-making process is transparent.

One effective way to communicate the findings is through a well-organized report. The report should include the problem statement, the analysis, the synthesis, and the recommended solution. It should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.

In addition to the report, it is also essential to have a presentation that explains the findings. The presentation should be tailored to the audience and highlight the report's key points. Visual aids such as tables, graphs, and charts can make the presentation more engaging.

During the presentation, it is essential to be open to feedback and questions from the audience. This helps ensure everyone is on board with the recommended solution and addresses any concerns or objections.

Effective communication is vital to ensuring the decision-making process is successful. Stakeholders can make informed decisions and work towards a common goal by communicating the findings clearly and concisely.

The 7-step problem-solving process is a powerful tool that can help individuals and organizations make better decisions. By following these steps, individuals can identify the root cause of a problem, prioritize potential solutions, and develop a clear plan of action. This process can be applied to various scenarios, from personal challenges to complex business problems.

Individuals can break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts through disaggregation. Individuals can focus their efforts on the most impactful actions by prioritizing potential solutions. The work step allows individuals to develop a clear action plan, while the analysis step provides a framework for evaluating possible solutions.

The synthesis step is where individuals combine all the information they have gathered to develop a comprehensive solution. Finally, the communication step allows individuals to share their answers with others and gather feedback.

By mastering the 7-step problem-solving process, individuals can become more effective decision-makers and problem-solvers. This process can help individuals and organizations save time and resources while improving outcomes. With practice, individuals can develop the skills to apply this process to a wide range of scenarios and make better decisions in all areas of life.

7-Step Problem-Solving Process 

Free powerpoint and pdf template, executive summary: the 7-step problem-solving process.

the last step in the problem solving process is to

The 7-Step Problem-Solving Process is a powerful and systematic method to help individuals and organizations make better decisions by tackling complex issues and finding practical solutions. This process comprises defining the problem, disaggregating it into smaller parts, prioritizing the issues, creating a work plan, analyzing the data, synthesizing the information, and communicating the findings.

By following these steps, individuals can identify the root cause of a problem, break it down into manageable components, and prioritize the most impactful actions. The work plan, analysis, and synthesis steps provide a framework for developing comprehensive solutions, while the communication step ensures transparency and stakeholder engagement.

Mastering this process can improve decision-making and problem-solving capabilities, saving time and resources and better outcomes in both personal and professional contexts.

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What is problem-solving and how to do it right steps, processes, exercises.

The better your problem-solving skills are, the better (and easier!) your life will be. Organized problem-solving is a killer career skill - learn all about it here.

Whether we’re trying to solve a technical problem at work, or trying to navigate around a roadblock that Google Maps doesn’t see – most people are problem-solving every single day . 

But how effective are you at tackling the challenges in your life? Do you have a bullet-proof process you follow that ensures solid outcomes, or... Do you act on a whim of inspiration (or lack thereof) to resolve your pressing problems?

Here’s the thing: the better your problem-solving skills are - the better (and easier!) your life will be (both professionally and personally). Organized problem-solving is a killer career (and life!) skill, so if you want to learn how to do it in the most efficient way possible, you’ve come to the right place.  

Read along to learn more about the steps, techniques and exercises of the problem-solving process.

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What is Problem-Solving?

We’re faced with the reality of having to solve problems every day, both in our private and professional lives. So why do we even need to learn about problem-solving? Aren’t we versed in it well enough already?

Well, what separates problem-solving from dealing with the usual day-to-day issues is that it’s a distinct process that allows you to go beyond the standard approaches to solving a problem and allows you to come up with more effective and efficient solutions. Or in other words, problem-solving allows you to knock out those problems with less effort. 

Just like with any other skill, there’s an efficient way to solve problems, and a non-efficient one. While it might be tempting to go for the quickest fix for your challenge without giving it much thought, it will only end up costing you more time down the road. Quick fixes are rarely (if ever!) effective and end up being massive time wasters. 

What separates problem-solving from dealing with the usual day-to-day issues is that it’s a distinct process that allows you to go beyond the standard approaches to solving a problem and allows you to come up with more effective and efficient solutions.

On the other hand, following a systemized clear process for problem-solving allows you to shortcut inefficiencies and time-wasters, turn your challenges into opportunities, and tackle problems of any scope without the usual stress and hassle. 

What is the process that you need to follow, then? We’re glad you asked...

The Five Stages of Problem-Solving

So what’s the best way to move through the problem-solving process? There’s a 5-step process that you can follow that will allow you to solve your challenges more efficiently and effectively. In short, you need to move through these 5 steps: 

  • Defining a problem
  • Ideating on a solution
  • Committing to a course of action
  • Implementing your solution
  • And finally – analyzing the results. 

The 5 stages of problem-solving

Let’s look at each of those stages in detail.

Step 1: Defining The Problem

The first step might sound obvious, but trust us, you don’t want to skip it! Clearly defining and framing your challenge will help you guide your efforts and make sure you’re focussing on the things that matter, instead of being distracted by a myriad of other options, problems and issues that come up. 

For once, you have to make sure you’re trying to solve the root cause, and not trying to mend the symptoms of it. For instance, if you keep losing users during your app onboarding process, you might jump to the conclusion that you need to tweak the process itself: change the copy, the screens, or the sequence of steps.

But unless you have clear evidence that confirms your hypothesis, your challenge might have an entirely different root cause, e.g. in confusing marketing communication prior to the app download. 

Clearly defining and framing your challenge will help you guide your efforts and make sure you’re focussing on the things that matter, all the while ensuring that you’re trying to solve the root cause, and not trying to mend the symptoms of it

That’s why it’s essential you take a close look at the entire problem, not just at a fraction of it.

There are several exercises that can help you get a broader, more holistic view of the problem, some of our all-time favorites include Expert Interviews, How Might We, or The Map. Check out the step-by-step instructions on how to run them (along with 5 more exercises for framing your challenge!) here. 

When in doubt, map out your challenge, and always try to tackle the bottlenecks that are more upstream - it’s likely that solving them will solve a couple of other challenges down the flow.

You also have to be mindful of how you frame the challenge: resist the urge to include a pre-defined solution into your problem statement. Priming your solutions to a predestined outcome destroys the purpose of following a step-by-step process in the first place!  

Steer clear of formulations like:

We need to change the onboarding process... or We need to improve ad copy to increase conversions. 

Instead, opt for more neutral, problem-oriented statements that don’t include a solution suggestion in them:

The drop off rate during the onboarding process is too high or Our ad conversion rates are below the norm.

Pro tip: Reframing your challenge as a ‘How Might We’ statement is a great way to spark up new ideas, opening your problem to a broader set of solutions, and is just a great way to reframe your problem into a more positive statement (without implying the possible solution!)

For example, following the onboarding drop-off rate problem we mentioned earlier, instead of framing it as a problem, you could opt for:

How Might We decrease the drop-off rate during the onboarding process? 

Find out more about the best exercises for problem framing here!

Now that you have a clear idea of what you’re trying to solve, it’s move on to the next phase of the problem-solving process.

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Step 2: ideating a solution.

Get ready to roll up your sleeves and challenge the status quo! This step of the problem-solving process is all about thinking outside of the box, challenging old assumptions, and thinking laterally. 

This stage is the one that tends to cause the most overwhelm in teams because it requires just the right balance of creativity and critical thinking, which tends to cause a lot of friction.

Our best advice?

Let go of the pressure to produce a polished, thought-through solution at this stage. You can hash out the details at a later point. Our goal right now is to come up with a direction, a prototype if you may, of where we want to move towards. 

Embrace the “quantity over quality” motto, and let your creative juices flow! Now, we’re not saying you should roll with sub-par ideas. But you shouldn’t get too fixated on feasibility and viability just yet . 

Your main goal during this step is to spark ideas, kick off your thinking process in the right direction, venture out of the familiar territories and think outside the box. 

For the ideation to be the most effective your team will have to feel safe to challenge the norm and wide-spread assumptions. So lay judgment by side, there is no space for “that’s the way it’s always been done” in this step.

For your ideation sessions to be as efficient as possible, we highly recommend to run them in a workshop setting: this helps reduce the usual drawbacks of open discussions in teams (i.e. groupthink & team politics!)

Our favorite exercises to run during this phase include Lightning Demos, Sketching, and variations of Brainstorming.  We crafted an entire article on how to run and facilitate these exercises in a separate article, so check it out of you’re going to be running an ideation session anytime soon!

Step 3: Choosing the Best Strategy & Committing

It’s time to decide which of the ideas that you generated in the last step will be the one you’ll implement. 

This step is arguably the hardest one to complete smoothly: groupthink, team politics, differences in opinions and communication styles all make it very hard to align a team on a common course of action. 

If you want to avoid the usual pitfalls of team decision-making, we recommend you steer clear of open unstructured discussion. While it’s useful in some scenarios, it’s a poor choice for when you need to make a decision, because it tends to reward the loudest people in the room, rather than give way to the best ideas. 

It’s crucial you not only commit to a course of action but get full buy-in from the team. If your team members don’t understand the reasons for a decision, or are not fully onboard, the implementation of your decision will be half-hearted, and that’s definitely not what you want! 

To achieve that, opt for anonymized, multi-layered voting, and include guided exercises like Storyboarding to prioritize your ideas. 

We’ve gathered the list of our top-rated decision-making exercises, along with step-by-step instructions on how to run them in this article!

As a bonus tip, we recommend you involve a facilitator throughout the entire process. They will help align the team, and guide them through prioritizing and de-prioritizing solutions, as well as defining the next steps. 

Pro tip : If you’re not the ultimate decision maker on the issue you’re trying to solve, make sure they’re in the room when the call is being made! Having a Decider in the room ensures that the decisions you come to will actually get executed on after, instead of getting shut down by your superiors after. 

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Step 4: implementing your solution.

Here’s a truth that might be hard to swallow: it doesn’t matter how innovative, creative, or original your idea is, if your execution is weak. 

One of our favourite illustrations of how this works in practice comes from the book “ Anything you want ” by Derek Sivers. He reveals that ideas should be treated as multipliers of execution. What this means is that a mediocre, “so-so” idea could be worth millions if executed well, while a “brilliant” idea can completely flop with bad execution. 

That’s why this step is crucial if you want to really master the problem-solving process. 

What do we mean by execution? Everything that happens after the whiteboards are wiped clean and your team starts to action the outcomes of your sessions, be it prototyping, development, or promotion. 

But don’t just take our word for it, look at the example of how execution affected Nintendo’s sales:

In the past few years, Nintendo has come up with 3 products: the Wii, the Wii U and the Switch. Check out their sales figures on the graph below - Wii is the clear-cut leader, followed by Switch, and finally Wii U lagging behind.

Nintendo's sales figure for 2018

The Wii was unbelievably successful - it was a genuinely unique, “brilliant”-level idea and it had a “brilliant” execution (20x $10 million = $200 million). It is  one of the fastest selling game consoles of all time and it completely took over the market.

The next product was called Wii U and it was a “great” concept but the execution was absolutely terrible. So even though this product was very interesting and innovative, the end result was 15x $1,000 = $15,000. 

Finally, Nintendo took the Wii U concept and tried it again with the Switch. The idea was “so so” as it was already done before, but the execution was “brilliant”. So, 5x $10 million = $50 million! Much better.

Excellent execution is more important than a good idea.

Bottom line?  

The same idea can either make no dent in the market and damage your share price OR become a market hit and increase your share price dramatically. The only difference between the two scenarios – execution.

So shift your focus from coming up with crazy, innovative, outlandish ideas that will disrupt the market, and concentrate on really nailing down your execution instead. 

This is likely the least “workshoppy” step out of the entire problem-solving process because it requires less alignment and decision-making and more..well.. Execution!

But hey, we wouldn’t be called “Workshopper” if we didn't offer you at least one way to optimize and workshopify (yup, we’re making it a thing) your execution process. 

Cue in….prototyping. 

We’re huge fans of prototyping all big solutions (and testing them!) The main reason?

This saves us time AND money! Prototyping and testing your solutions (especially if they’re time and investment-demanding) is a great way to make sure you’re creating something that is actually needed. 

The key with prototyping the right way is to keep it simple. Don’t invest too much time, or resources into it. The goal is to gather data for your future decisions, not to create a near-to-perfect mockup of your solution.  

There are LOADS of prototyping forms and techniques, and if you’d like to learn more on the subject you should definitely check out our extensive prototyping guide.  

Step 5: Analyzing the Results

You’re nearly done, woo! Now that you have defined the right problem to tackle, brainstormed the solutions, aligned your team on the course of action, and put your plan into action it’s time to take stock of your efforts. 

Seek feedback from all involved parties, analyze the data you’ve gathered, look at the bottom line of your efforts, and  take a hard look at your problem: did it get solved? And even more than that, did the process feel smoother, easier, and more efficient than it normally is?

Running a retrospective is a great way to highlight things that went well and that you should keep for your next round of problem.solving, as well as pinpoint inefficiencies that you can eliminate.

‍ But which kind of retrospective should you run? There are loads of options, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by them all, so we gathered our favorite retrospective variations in this article.

And there you have it, you just completed the cycle of  problem-solving. We highly recommend you follow through with all the steps, without leaving any out. They all complement and build on each other, and it’s the combination of all 5 of them that makes the process effective. 

Now that you have the problem solving process down, you might be wondering…

Do I need any special skills in order to be able to move through that process?

And the answer is… sort of! More in this in the next section.

Problem-Solving Skills 

While your skill set will need to adapt and change based on the challenges you’ll be working on, most efficient problem-solvers have a solid foundation of these key skills:   

  • Active listening. While you might be the expert in the area of your challenge, there’s not a single person on Earth that knows it all! Being open to others’ perspectives and practicing active listening will come in very handy during step 1 of the process, as you’re trying to define the scope and the exact angle of the problem you’re working on.
  • Analytical approach. Your analytical skills will help you understand problems and effectively develop solutions. You will also need analytical skills during research to help distinguish between effective and ineffective solutions.
  • Communication. Is there a single area of expertise that DOESN’T require strong communication skills? We honestly don’t think so! Just like with any other life area, clear communication can make or break your problem-solving process. Being able to clearly communicate why you need to solve this challenge to your team, as well as align your team on the course of action are crucial for the success of the process. 
  • Decision-making. Ultimately, you will need to make a decision about how to solve problems that arise. A process without outcomes–regardless of how well thought-out and elaborate–is useless! If you want your problem-solving huddles to be effective, you have to come to grips with prioritization techniques and decision-making frameworks. 
  • Facilitation. Problem-solving revolves around being able to guide a group or a team to a common decision, and facilitation skills are essential in making that happen. Knowing how to facilitate will make it easy to keep the group focussed on the challenge, shortcut circular discussions, and make sure you’re moving along to solving the problem instead of just treading waters with fruitless discussions. 

Not checking every single skill of your list just yet? Not to worry, the next section will give you practical tools on how to level up and improve your problem-solving skills.

How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

Just like with any other skill, problem-solving is not an innate talent that you either have or you don’t.  There are concrete steps you can take to improve your skills. 

Here are some things that will get you closer to mastering the problem-solving process:

  • Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice makes perfect, and problem-solving skills are no exception! Seek opportunities to utilize and develop these skills any time you can. 

If you don’t know where or how to start just yet, here’s a suggestion that will get you up and running in no time: run a quick problem-solving session on a challenge that has been bothering your team for a while now. 

It doesn’t need to be the big strategic decision or the issue defining the future of the company. Something easy and manageable (like optimizing office space or improving team communication) will do. 

As you start feeling more comfortable with the problem-solving techniques, you can start tackling bigger challenges. Before you know it, you’ll master the art of creative problem-solving!

  • Use a tried and tested problem-solving workshop

Facilitation is one of the essential skills for problem-solving. But here’s the thing… Facilitation skills on their own won’t lead you to a solved challenge.

While being able to shortcut aimless discussions is a great skill, you have to make sure your problem-solving session has tangible outcomes. Using a tried and tested method, a workshop, is one of the easiest ways to do that. 

Our best advice is to get started with a tried and tested problem-solving workshop like the Lightning Decision Jam . The LDJ has all the right ingredients for quick, effective problem solving that leads to tangible outcomes. Give it a go!

  • Learn from your peers

You may have colleagues who are skilled problem solvers. Observing how those colleagues solve problems can help you improve your own skills. 

If possible, ask one of your more experienced colleagues if you can observe their techniques. Ask them relevant questions and try to apply as many of the new found skills i your career as possible. 

  • Learn & Practice the best problem-solving exercises

Having a toolbox of problem-solving exercises to pull from that can fit any type of challenge will make you a more versatile problem-solver and will make solving challenges that much easier for you! 

Once you get used to the groove of learning how to combine them into effective sessions or workshops, there’ll be no stopping you. What are some of the most effective problem-solving exercises? Glad you asked! We’ve gathered our favorite ones here, check it out! 

And there you have it, you’re now fully equipped for running creative problem-sessions with confidence and ease! Whichever method or exercise you choose, remember to keep track of your wins, and learn as much as you can from your losses! 

Anastasia Ushakova

Brand Strategist, Digital Marketer, and a Workshopper.

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When Do You Need a Facilitator?

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Status.net

What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)

By Status.net Editorial Team on May 7, 2023 — 5 minutes to read

What Is Problem Solving?

Definition and importance.

Problem solving is the process of finding solutions to obstacles or challenges you encounter in your life or work. It is a crucial skill that allows you to tackle complex situations, adapt to changes, and overcome difficulties with ease. Mastering this ability will contribute to both your personal and professional growth, leading to more successful outcomes and better decision-making.

Problem-Solving Steps

The problem-solving process typically includes the following steps:

  • Identify the issue : Recognize the problem that needs to be solved.
  • Analyze the situation : Examine the issue in depth, gather all relevant information, and consider any limitations or constraints that may be present.
  • Generate potential solutions : Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to the issue, without immediately judging or evaluating them.
  • Evaluate options : Weigh the pros and cons of each potential solution, considering factors such as feasibility, effectiveness, and potential risks.
  • Select the best solution : Choose the option that best addresses the problem and aligns with your objectives.
  • Implement the solution : Put the selected solution into action and monitor the results to ensure it resolves the issue.
  • Review and learn : Reflect on the problem-solving process, identify any improvements or adjustments that can be made, and apply these learnings to future situations.

Defining the Problem

To start tackling a problem, first, identify and understand it. Analyzing the issue thoroughly helps to clarify its scope and nature. Ask questions to gather information and consider the problem from various angles. Some strategies to define the problem include:

  • Brainstorming with others
  • Asking the 5 Ws and 1 H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How)
  • Analyzing cause and effect
  • Creating a problem statement

Generating Solutions

Once the problem is clearly understood, brainstorm possible solutions. Think creatively and keep an open mind, as well as considering lessons from past experiences. Consider:

  • Creating a list of potential ideas to solve the problem
  • Grouping and categorizing similar solutions
  • Prioritizing potential solutions based on feasibility, cost, and resources required
  • Involving others to share diverse opinions and inputs

Evaluating and Selecting Solutions

Evaluate each potential solution, weighing its pros and cons. To facilitate decision-making, use techniques such as:

  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Decision-making matrices
  • Pros and cons lists
  • Risk assessments

After evaluating, choose the most suitable solution based on effectiveness, cost, and time constraints.

Implementing and Monitoring the Solution

Implement the chosen solution and monitor its progress. Key actions include:

  • Communicating the solution to relevant parties
  • Setting timelines and milestones
  • Assigning tasks and responsibilities
  • Monitoring the solution and making adjustments as necessary
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the solution after implementation

Utilize feedback from stakeholders and consider potential improvements. Remember that problem-solving is an ongoing process that can always be refined and enhanced.

Problem-Solving Techniques

During each step, you may find it helpful to utilize various problem-solving techniques, such as:

  • Brainstorming : A free-flowing, open-minded session where ideas are generated and listed without judgment, to encourage creativity and innovative thinking.
  • Root cause analysis : A method that explores the underlying causes of a problem to find the most effective solution rather than addressing superficial symptoms.
  • SWOT analysis : A tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to a problem or decision, providing a comprehensive view of the situation.
  • Mind mapping : A visual technique that uses diagrams to organize and connect ideas, helping to identify patterns, relationships, and possible solutions.

Brainstorming

When facing a problem, start by conducting a brainstorming session. Gather your team and encourage an open discussion where everyone contributes ideas, no matter how outlandish they may seem. This helps you:

  • Generate a diverse range of solutions
  • Encourage all team members to participate
  • Foster creative thinking

When brainstorming, remember to:

  • Reserve judgment until the session is over
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Combine and improve upon ideas

Root Cause Analysis

For effective problem-solving, identifying the root cause of the issue at hand is crucial. Try these methods:

  • 5 Whys : Ask “why” five times to get to the underlying cause.
  • Fishbone Diagram : Create a diagram representing the problem and break it down into categories of potential causes.
  • Pareto Analysis : Determine the few most significant causes underlying the majority of problems.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis helps you examine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to your problem. To perform a SWOT analysis:

  • List your problem’s strengths, such as relevant resources or strong partnerships.
  • Identify its weaknesses, such as knowledge gaps or limited resources.
  • Explore opportunities, like trends or new technologies, that could help solve the problem.
  • Recognize potential threats, like competition or regulatory barriers.

SWOT analysis aids in understanding the internal and external factors affecting the problem, which can help guide your solution.

Mind Mapping

A mind map is a visual representation of your problem and potential solutions. It enables you to organize information in a structured and intuitive manner. To create a mind map:

  • Write the problem in the center of a blank page.
  • Draw branches from the central problem to related sub-problems or contributing factors.
  • Add more branches to represent potential solutions or further ideas.

Mind mapping allows you to visually see connections between ideas and promotes creativity in problem-solving.

Examples of Problem Solving in Various Contexts

In the business world, you might encounter problems related to finances, operations, or communication. Applying problem-solving skills in these situations could look like:

  • Identifying areas of improvement in your company’s financial performance and implementing cost-saving measures
  • Resolving internal conflicts among team members by listening and understanding different perspectives, then proposing and negotiating solutions
  • Streamlining a process for better productivity by removing redundancies, automating tasks, or re-allocating resources

In educational contexts, problem-solving can be seen in various aspects, such as:

  • Addressing a gap in students’ understanding by employing diverse teaching methods to cater to different learning styles
  • Developing a strategy for successful time management to balance academic responsibilities and extracurricular activities
  • Seeking resources and support to provide equal opportunities for learners with special needs or disabilities

Everyday life is full of challenges that require problem-solving skills. Some examples include:

  • Overcoming a personal obstacle, such as improving your fitness level, by establishing achievable goals, measuring progress, and adjusting your approach accordingly
  • Navigating a new environment or city by researching your surroundings, asking for directions, or using technology like GPS to guide you
  • Dealing with a sudden change, like a change in your work schedule, by assessing the situation, identifying potential impacts, and adapting your plans to accommodate the change.
  • How to Resolve Employee Conflict at Work [Steps, Tips, Examples]
  • How to Write Inspiring Core Values? 5 Steps with Examples
  • 30 Employee Feedback Examples (Positive & Negative)

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Article • 10 min read

The Problem-Definition Process

Developing the right solution.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

the last step in the problem solving process is to

When we try to solve business problems, we can often pressurize ourselves to find solutions quickly.

The problem with this is that we can end up only partially solving the problem, or we can solve the wrong problem altogether, with all of the delay, expense, and lost business opportunity that goes with this.

The Problem-Definition Process helps you avoid this. In this article, we'll look at this process and we'll see how to apply it.

Dwayne Spradlin published the Problem-Definition Process in September 2012's Harvard Business Review . (We refer to this with permission.)

Spradlin was the President and CEO of Innocentive, an organization that connected organizations with freelance problem solvers. He developed the process over 10 years, while working with a community of more than 25,000 "problem solvers" such as engineers, scientists, and industry experts.

The process gives you four steps that help you better understand complex problems. These steps are:

  • Establish the need.
  • Justify the need.
  • Understand the problem and its wider context.
  • Write a problem statement.

The Problem-Definition Process encourages you to define and understand the problem that you're trying to solve, in detail. It also helps you confirm that solving the problem contributes towards your organization's objectives.

This stops you spending time, energy, and resources on unimportant problems, or on initiatives that don't align with your organization's overall strategy.

It also encourages you to fully define the problem and its boundaries. You can then use this information to justify the need for change, brief designers and contractors, and kick-off new projects successfully.

Use the Problem-Definition Process alongside tools such as Simplex and Hurson's Productive Thinking Model . These will guide you through the full problem-solving process .

Using the Problem-Definition Process

The four main steps in the Problem-Definition Process contain several smaller questions that, once answered, help you define and clarify the problem thoroughly.

Let's look at each step in more detail.

The process we present below is an adaptation of Spradlin's original model. We’ve included additional questions and sub-steps where appropriate.

1. Establish the Need

The first step is to identify why you need a solution to the problem. To do this, answer these questions:

a. What is the basic need? First, write your problem down in simple terms. Then, identify the basic need that you'll fulfill once you've solved the problem.

For example:

b. What is the ideal outcome? Next, identify the outcome that you want to see once you've implemented a solution.

Don't think of any particular solutions at this point – your aim is to visualize the result of a successful solution, not the solution itself.

It helps to be specific here: "Increase weekly sign-ups by 20 percent" is more useful than "Increase weekly sign-ups."

c. Who will (and won't) benefit? Finally in this step, identify all of the stakeholders who will benefit, both directly and indirectly, once you've solved the problem and reached your desired outcome. Write down who these people or groups are, and the advantages that they'll see.

Also consider who may be at a disadvantage if you solve the problem.

Tools like Impact Analysis and the Futures Wheel are useful here, as they help identify the possible consequences of a change.

As you work through the next steps of this process and get more of an understanding of your problem, you may find it useful to go back and refine your answers to previous questions.

2. Justify the Need

Once you understand the need for solving the problem, you must then justify why you should solve it. To do this, answer these questions:

a. Is effort aligned with your overall strategy? This problem, and the effort that you'll be putting into solving it, must align with your organization's strategic priorities , as well as its mission and values .

b. What benefits do we want, and how can we measure these? Identify what benefits your organization, as a whole, will see when you solve this problem, and think about how you can measure these in relation to its overall strategy and objectives. Be as specific as possible.

c. Are we likely to be able to implement a solution? Think about factors such as how you'll get support from stakeholders and decision-makers, and how you'll access the required resources and expertise. This may involve speaking with senior managers in your organization to understand what resources may be available.

3. Understand the Problem and Its Wider Context

In steps 1 and 2, you identified why you need a solution, and why it's important to your strategy and mission.

The three questions in this third step encourage you to look at the problem in more depth, and to look back into the past to see what you can learn from past efforts.

a. What's the cause? First in this step, make sure that you've identified all of the causes of your problem, using tools like CATWOE , Root Cause Analysis , Cause and Effect Analysis , Systems Diagrams , and Interrelationship Diagrams .

b. What solutions already exist? Have other people in your organization tried to solve this or a similar problem in the past? If so, what did they do? What worked and what didn't work?

Next you need to find out if people outside of your organization have already tried to do something about this problem. Widen your search to include trade journals, field studies, past research, competitors, industry experts, and your personal network.

Your goal is to look at what's been done already, and what hasn't worked, so that you don't waste time working on a solution that already exists, or working on a solution that's likely to fail.

c. What are the constraints? By now, you're starting to have a deeper understanding of the problem and how it relates to your organization. Now you can brainstorm factors that might prevent you from implementing a solution. (Use your answers from question c in step 2 to help with this.)

First, look at internal constraints. Will you have access to enough people, money, and other resources to solve this problem? Are there any stakeholders who might try to block your efforts? Are there any rules or procedures that you must follow? (For instance, a new website would need to align with your organization's brand guidelines.)

Next, look externally. Are there any government regulations or laws that might stall or block your solutions? Is the technology available?

d. What requirements must a solution meet? Write down the requirements that the solution must meet in order to solve the problem successfully. As part of this, also identify other factors that, while not essential for solving the problem successfully, would add value to the final solution. For example, you might want "quiet machinery," or a "database that you can access from anywhere with an Internet connection."

e. How will we define success? Identify how you'll define success once you've implemented a solution.

4. Write a Problem Statement

The final step is to pull together all of the information that you've gathered into a clear, comprehensive problem statement. This should provide a thorough overview of the problem, and outline a plan for how you will go about solving it.

If someone else (for example, a contractor, outside organization, or other department) will be tasked with solving the problem, also work through the following questions, and include the answers to these in your problem statement:

a. Which problem solvers should we use? Identify who, specifically, is best placed to help solve this problem. This could be a person, a team, or an outside firm.

b. What information and language should the problem statement include? The problem statement needs to be clear, specific, and understood by the people who should solve it. Avoid industry jargon , and make sure that it relates to its intended audience.

c. What do problem solvers need to produce? What will you or your organization need from them? For instance, will you need a comprehensive report, or a presentation on the proposed solution? Do you want a prototype? Is there a deadline? Spell the details out here.

d. What incentives do solvers need? This question addresses motivation. If an internal team will be working on the solution, how will they be rewarded? If an external team or firm will be addressing this problem, what incentives are you offering?

e. How will we evaluate the solutions? Who will be responsible for analyzing proposals, and what evaluation method will you use?

Dwayne Spradlin published the Problem-Definition Process in the September 2012 Harvard Business Review.

The process presents four steps that help you better understand complex problems. These four steps are:

The main advantage of using the process is that it helps you to define and understand the problem in detail, and helps you understand how important a problem is in relation to your organization's mission and strategy. From this, you can determine whether or not it's worth developing a solution.

Spradlin, D. (2012) 'Are You Solving the Right Problem?' Harvard Business Review . Available here . [Accessed November 8, 2018.]

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  • The Art of Effective Problem Solving: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • Learn Lean Sigma
  • Problem Solving

Whether we realise it or not, problem solving skills are an important part of our daily lives. From resolving a minor annoyance at home to tackling complex business challenges at work, our ability to solve problems has a significant impact on our success and happiness. However, not everyone is naturally gifted at problem-solving, and even those who are can always improve their skills. In this blog post, we will go over the art of effective problem-solving step by step.

You will learn how to define a problem, gather information, assess alternatives, and implement a solution, all while honing your critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. Whether you’re a seasoned problem solver or just getting started, this guide will arm you with the knowledge and tools you need to face any challenge with confidence. So let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Problem solving methodologies.

Individuals and organisations can use a variety of problem-solving methodologies to address complex challenges. 8D and A3 problem solving techniques are two popular methodologies in the Lean Six Sigma framework.

Methodology of 8D (Eight Discipline) Problem Solving:

The 8D problem solving methodology is a systematic, team-based approach to problem solving. It is a method that guides a team through eight distinct steps to solve a problem in a systematic and comprehensive manner.

The 8D process consists of the following steps:

  • Form a team: Assemble a group of people who have the necessary expertise to work on the problem.
  • Define the issue: Clearly identify and define the problem, including the root cause and the customer impact.
  • Create a temporary containment plan: Put in place a plan to lessen the impact of the problem until a permanent solution can be found.
  • Identify the root cause: To identify the underlying causes of the problem, use root cause analysis techniques such as Fishbone diagrams and Pareto charts.
  • Create and test long-term corrective actions: Create and test a long-term solution to eliminate the root cause of the problem.
  • Implement and validate the permanent solution: Implement and validate the permanent solution’s effectiveness.
  • Prevent recurrence: Put in place measures to keep the problem from recurring.
  • Recognize and reward the team: Recognize and reward the team for its efforts.

Download the 8D Problem Solving Template

A3 Problem Solving Method:

The A3 problem solving technique is a visual, team-based problem-solving approach that is frequently used in Lean Six Sigma projects. The A3 report is a one-page document that clearly and concisely outlines the problem, root cause analysis, and proposed solution.

The A3 problem-solving procedure consists of the following steps:

  • Determine the issue: Define the issue clearly, including its impact on the customer.
  • Perform root cause analysis: Identify the underlying causes of the problem using root cause analysis techniques.
  • Create and implement a solution: Create and implement a solution that addresses the problem’s root cause.
  • Monitor and improve the solution: Keep an eye on the solution’s effectiveness and make any necessary changes.

Subsequently, in the Lean Six Sigma framework, the 8D and A3 problem solving methodologies are two popular approaches to problem solving. Both methodologies provide a structured, team-based problem-solving approach that guides individuals through a comprehensive and systematic process of identifying, analysing, and resolving problems in an effective and efficient manner.

Step 1 – Define the Problem

The definition of the problem is the first step in effective problem solving. This may appear to be a simple task, but it is actually quite difficult. This is because problems are frequently complex and multi-layered, making it easy to confuse symptoms with the underlying cause. To avoid this pitfall, it is critical to thoroughly understand the problem.

To begin, ask yourself some clarifying questions:

  • What exactly is the issue?
  • What are the problem’s symptoms or consequences?
  • Who or what is impacted by the issue?
  • When and where does the issue arise?

Answering these questions will assist you in determining the scope of the problem. However, simply describing the problem is not always sufficient; you must also identify the root cause. The root cause is the underlying cause of the problem and is usually the key to resolving it permanently.

Try asking “why” questions to find the root cause:

  • What causes the problem?
  • Why does it continue?
  • Why does it have the effects that it does?

By repeatedly asking “ why ,” you’ll eventually get to the bottom of the problem. This is an important step in the problem-solving process because it ensures that you’re dealing with the root cause rather than just the symptoms.

Once you have a firm grasp on the issue, it is time to divide it into smaller, more manageable chunks. This makes tackling the problem easier and reduces the risk of becoming overwhelmed. For example, if you’re attempting to solve a complex business problem, you might divide it into smaller components like market research, product development, and sales strategies.

To summarise step 1, defining the problem is an important first step in effective problem-solving. You will be able to identify the root cause and break it down into manageable parts if you take the time to thoroughly understand the problem. This will prepare you for the next step in the problem-solving process, which is gathering information and brainstorming ideas.

Step 2 – Gather Information and Brainstorm Ideas

Gathering information and brainstorming ideas is the next step in effective problem solving. This entails researching the problem and relevant information, collaborating with others, and coming up with a variety of potential solutions. This increases your chances of finding the best solution to the problem.

Begin by researching the problem and relevant information. This could include reading articles, conducting surveys, or consulting with experts. The goal is to collect as much information as possible in order to better understand the problem and possible solutions.

Next, work with others to gather a variety of perspectives. Brainstorming with others can be an excellent way to come up with new and creative ideas. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts and ideas when working in a group, and make an effort to actively listen to what others have to say. Be open to new and unconventional ideas and resist the urge to dismiss them too quickly.

Finally, use brainstorming to generate a wide range of potential solutions. This is the place where you can let your imagination run wild. At this stage, don’t worry about the feasibility or practicality of the solutions; instead, focus on generating as many ideas as possible. Write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous or unusual it may appear. This can be done individually or in groups.

Once you’ve compiled a list of potential solutions, it’s time to assess them and select the best one. This is the next step in the problem-solving process, which we’ll go over in greater detail in the following section.

Step 3 – Evaluate Options and Choose the Best Solution

Once you’ve compiled a list of potential solutions, it’s time to assess them and select the best one. This is the third step in effective problem solving, and it entails weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each solution, considering their feasibility and practicability, and selecting the solution that is most likely to solve the problem effectively.

To begin, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each solution. This will assist you in determining the potential outcomes of each solution and deciding which is the best option. For example, a quick and easy solution may not be the most effective in the long run, whereas a more complex and time-consuming solution may be more effective in solving the problem in the long run.

Consider each solution’s feasibility and practicability. Consider the following:

  • Can the solution be implemented within the available resources, time, and budget?
  • What are the possible barriers to implementing the solution?
  • Is the solution feasible in today’s political, economic, and social environment?

You’ll be able to tell which solutions are likely to succeed and which aren’t by assessing their feasibility and practicability.

Finally, choose the solution that is most likely to effectively solve the problem. This solution should be based on the criteria you’ve established, such as the advantages and disadvantages of each solution, their feasibility and practicability, and your overall goals.

It is critical to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to problems. What is effective for one person or situation may not be effective for another. This is why it is critical to consider a wide range of solutions and evaluate each one based on its ability to effectively solve the problem.

Step 4 – Implement and Monitor the Solution

When you’ve decided on the best solution, it’s time to put it into action. The fourth and final step in effective problem solving is to put the solution into action, monitor its progress, and make any necessary adjustments.

To begin, implement the solution. This may entail delegating tasks, developing a strategy, and allocating resources. Ascertain that everyone involved understands their role and responsibilities in the solution’s implementation.

Next, keep an eye on the solution’s progress. This may entail scheduling regular check-ins, tracking metrics, and soliciting feedback from others. You will be able to identify any potential roadblocks and make any necessary adjustments in a timely manner if you monitor the progress of the solution.

Finally, make any necessary modifications to the solution. This could entail changing the solution, altering the plan of action, or delegating different tasks. Be willing to make changes if they will improve the solution or help it solve the problem more effectively.

It’s important to remember that problem solving is an iterative process, and there may be times when you need to start from scratch. This is especially true if the initial solution does not effectively solve the problem. In these situations, it’s critical to be adaptable and flexible and to keep trying new solutions until you find the one that works best.

To summarise, effective problem solving is a critical skill that can assist individuals and organisations in overcoming challenges and achieving their objectives. Effective problem solving consists of four key steps: defining the problem, generating potential solutions, evaluating alternatives and selecting the best solution, and implementing the solution.

You can increase your chances of success in problem solving by following these steps and considering factors such as the pros and cons of each solution, their feasibility and practicability, and making any necessary adjustments. Furthermore, keep in mind that problem solving is an iterative process, and there may be times when you need to go back to the beginning and restart. Maintain your adaptability and try new solutions until you find the one that works best for you.

  • Novick, L.R. and Bassok, M., 2005.  Problem Solving . Cambridge University Press.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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The Five-Step Problem-Solving Process

Sometimes when you’re faced with a complex problem, it’s best to pause and take a step back. A break from…

The Five Step Problem Solving Process

Sometimes when you’re faced with a complex problem, it’s best to pause and take a step back. A break from routine will help you think creatively and objectively. Doing too much at the same time increases the chances of burnout.

Solving problems is easier when you align your thoughts with your actions. If you’re in multiple places at once mentally, you’re more likely to get overwhelmed under pressure. So, a problem-solving process follows specific steps to make it approachable and straightforward. This includes breaking down complex problems, understanding what you want to achieve, and allocating responsibilities to different people to ease some of the pressure.

The problem-solving process will help you measure your progress against factors like budget, timelines and deliverables. The point is to get the key stakeholders on the same page about the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the process. ( Xanax ) Let’s discuss the five-step problem-solving process that you can adopt.

Problems at a workplace need not necessarily be situations that have a negative impact, such as a product failure or a change in government policy. Making a decision to alter the way your team works may also be a problem. Launching new products, technological upgrades, customer feedback collection exercises—all of these are also “problems” that need to be “solved”.

Here are the steps of a problem-solving process:

1. Defining the Problem

The first step in the process is often overlooked. To define the problem is to understand what it is that you’re solving for. This is also where you outline and write down your purpose—what you want to achieve and why. Making sure you know what the problem is can make it easier to follow up with the remaining steps. This will also help you identify which part of the problem needs more attention than others.

2. Analyzing the Problem

Analyze why the problem occurred and go deeper to understand the existing situation.  If it’s a product that has malfunctioned, assess factors like raw material, assembly line, and people involved to identify the problem areas. This will help you figure out if the problem will persist or recur. You can measure the solution against existing factors to assess its future viability.

3. Weighing the Options

Once you’ve figured out what the problem is and why it occurred, you can move on to generating multiple options as solutions. You can combine your existing knowledge with research and data to come up with viable and effective solutions. Thinking objectively and getting inputs from those involved in the process will broaden your perspective of the problem. You’ll be able to come up with better options if you’re open to ideas other than your own.

4. Implementing The Best Solution

Implementation will depend on the type of data at hand and other variables. Consider the big picture when you’re selecting the best option. Look at factors like how the solution will impact your budget, how soon you can implement it, and whether it can withstand setbacks or failures. If you need to make any tweaks or upgrades, make them happen in this stage.

5. Monitoring Progress

The problem-solving process doesn’t end at implementation. It requires constant monitoring to watch out for recurrences and relapses. It’s possible that something doesn’t work out as expected on implementation. To ensure the process functions smoothly, you can make changes as soon as you catch a miscalculation. Always stay on top of things by monitoring how far you’ve come and how much farther you have to go.

You can learn to solve any problem—big or small—with experience and patience. Adopt an impartial and analytical approach that has room for multiple perspectives. In the workplace, you’re often faced with situations like an unexpected system failure or a key employee quitting in the middle of a crucial project.

Problem-solving skills will help you face these situations head-on. Harappa Education’s Structuring Problems course will show you how to classify and categorize problems to discover effective solutions. Equipping yourself with the right knowledge will help you navigate work-related problems in a calm and competent manner.

Explore topics such as  Problem Solving , the  PICK Chart ,  How to Solve Problems  & the  Barriers to Problem Solving  from our Harappa Diaries blog section and develop your skills.

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Unlocking the Secrets of Problem-Solving: The 8-Step Path to Success

Problem-solving is an essential skill that enables us to navigate through the challenges that life throws at us. When faced with problems, we often feel overwhelmed and struggle to find effective solutions. But what if there was a step-by-step guide that could help us overcome these obstacles with ease?

Today, we will discuss an 8-step problem-solving process, as illustrated in the image from the Lean Enterprise Academy. This image provides a comprehensive framework for approaching problems systematically and structured, ensuring success in tackling even the most complex issues.

Step 1: Clarify the Problem

The first step in problem-solving is to clarify the problem. It involves identifying the issue, understanding its scope, and defining the problem statement. This step sets the foundation for the entire process, ensuring that everyone involved clearly understands the problem.

Step 2: Break Down the Problem

Once the problem has been clarified, it’s time to break it into smaller, more manageable components. By analyzing the problem and understanding its root causes, you can develop a deeper understanding of the issue and generate insights to guide the next steps.

Step 3: Set a Target

Setting a target involves establishing a clear, achievable goal for solving the problem. This step helps to provide direction, motivate the team, and create a benchmark for measuring progress.

Step 4: Analyze the Root Cause

Now that you understand the problem and its components, it’s time to analyze the root cause. By identifying the underlying factors contributing to the problem, you can address them directly and develop a more effective solution.

Step 5: Develop Countermeasures

With the root cause analysis complete, it’s time to develop countermeasures that address the identified issues. These countermeasures should be based on the insights gained during the analysis and tailored to effectively address the problem at hand.

Step 6: See Countermeasures Through

Once the countermeasures have been developed, it’s time to implement them. This step involves implementing the proposed solutions and closely monitoring their progress to ensure they are effectively addressing the problem.

Step 7: Monitor Results and Process

After implementing the countermeasures, monitoring the results and evaluating their effectiveness is crucial. By collecting data and analyzing the impact of your solutions, you can determine whether the problem has been resolved or if further action is needed.

Step 8: Standardize and Share Success

Once the problem has been successfully addressed, it’s essential to standardize the processes and solutions that led to success. This step ensures that the lessons learned are applied to future problem-solving efforts and that successful methods are shared with others who may face similar challenges.

An 8-step problem-solving process is a powerful tool for overcoming daily challenges. By following these steps, you can tackle problems more effectively and build a culture of continuous improvement and learning within your organization. Start applying this process today and unlock the secrets of problem-solving success.

You can get the poster from their website .

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Problem Solving Steps

Generally there are five widely accepted steps in the problem solving process:

  • Define the problem
  • Gather facts
  • Generate alternate options
  • Evaluate and implement most appropriate option
  • Monitor solution and evaluate result

The first step is the most difficult of all and is covered in the next section. After the problem has been sufficiently defined, you gather factual information, who, what, when, and where. Then you generate alternative options bringing in other people who might have a different problem solving style. Next you evaluate the types of solutions presented, weighing the advantages and and disadvantages against the goals you have for what you have defined as the problem. Then you implement. Finally and equally important, monitor the implementation and evaluate your results.

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Six Steps to Develop an Effective Problem-Solving Process

by Rawzaba Alhalabi Published on November 1, 2017

Problem-solving involves thought and understanding. Although it may appear simple, identifying a problem may be a challenging process.

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes”, says American industrialist Henry Kaiser. According to Concise Oxford Dictionary (1995), a problem is “ doubtful or difficult matter requiring a solution” and “something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with.” Such situations are at the center of what many people do at work every day.

Whether to help a client solve a problem, support a problem-solver, or to discover new problems, problem-solving is a crucial element to the workplace ingredients. Everyone can benefit from effective problem-solving skills that would make people happier. Everyone wins. Hence, this approach is a critical element but how can you do it effectively? You need to find a solution, but not right away. People tend to put the solution at the beginning of the process but they actually needed it at the end of the process.

Here are six steps to an effective problem-solving process:

Identify the issues, understand everyone’s interests, list the possible solutions, make a decision, implement the solution.

By following the whole process, you will be able to enhance your problem-solving skills and increase your patience. Keep in mind that effective problem solving does take some time and attention. You have to always be ready to hit the brakes and slow down. A problem is like a bump road. Take it right and you’ll find yourself in good shape for the straightaway that follows. Take it too fast and you may not be in as good shape.

Case study 1:

According to Real Time Economics, there are industries that have genuinely evolved, with more roles for people with analytical and problem-solving skills. In healthcare, for example, a regulatory change requiring the digitization of health records has led to greater demand for medical records technicians. Technological change in the manufacturing industry has reduced routine factory jobs while demanding more skilled workers who can operate complex machinery.

Case study 2:

Yolanda was having a hard time dealing with difficult clients and dealing with her team at the office, so she decided to take a problem-solving course. “I was very pleased with the 2-day Problem Solving program at RSM.  It is an excellent investment for anyone involved in the strategic decision-making process—be it in their own company or as a consultant charged with supporting organizations facing strategic challenges.“

Yolanda Barreros Gutiérrez, B&C Consulting

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8-step problem solving process, organizational effectiveness.

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Step 1: Define the Problem

  • What is the problem?
  • How did you discover the problem?
  • When did the problem start and how long has this problem been going on?
  • Is there enough data available to contain the problem and prevent it from getting passed to the next process step? If yes, contain the problem.

Step 2: Clarify the Problem

  • What data is available or needed to help clarify, or fully understand the problem?
  • Is it a top priority to resolve the problem at this point in time?
  • Are additional resources required to clarify the problem? If yes, elevate the problem to your leader to help locate the right resources and form a team. 
  •  Consider a Lean Event (Do-it, Burst, RPI, Project).
  • ∙Ensure the problem is contained and does not get passed to the next process step.

Step 3: Define the Goals

  • What is your end goal or desired future state?
  • What will you accomplish if you fix this problem?
  • What is the desired timeline for solving this problem?

Step 4: Identify Root Cause of the Problem

  • Identify possible causes of the problem.
  • Prioritize possible root causes of the problem.
  • What information or data is there to validate the root cause?

Step 5: Develop Action Plan

  • Generate a list of actions required to address the root cause and prevent problem from getting to others.
  • Assign an owner and timeline to each action.
  • Status actions to ensure completion.

Step 6: Execute Action Plan

  • Implement action plan to address the root cause.
  • Verify actions are completed.

Step 7: Evaluate the Results

  • Monitor and Collect Data.
  • Did you meet your goals defined in step 3? If not, repeat the 8-Step Process. 
  • Were there any unforeseen consequences?
  • If problem is resolved, remove activities that were added previously to contain the problem.

Step 8: Continuously Improve

  • Look for additional opportunities to implement solution.
  • Ensure problem will not come back and communicate lessons learned.
  • If needed, repeat the 8-Step Problem Solving Process to drive further improvements.

The 8-Step Problem-Solving Method

The 8 step problem solving method

  • November 22, 2021

Table Of Contents

What is the 8-step problem-solving method, the 8 steps and the problem-solving process, the culture of problem-solving.

  • Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA)
  • Gain Problem-Solving Support

As a manufacturing professional, you know how important it is to stay organized, keep your goals in mind and strive for success. But with all of the responsibilities and daily tasks piling up, it takes effort to find and stick to a process that can keep you on track.

Luckily, there’s a tried and trusted way to achieve success in the manufacturing industry.

The eight-step problem-solving process is a  structured method  that guides you through the various steps of solving issues. Unlike other problem-solving processes that are often broad, the eight-step method takes you through each individual step, from identifying the problem to taking actionable steps to success.

Instead of changing a few things at a middling level that will probably break down again later, you can unearth the roots of problems and build success from the ground up.

For a fundamental breakdown of how to fix problems and lead your manufacturing team to success, here are the eight steps of the problem-solving process.

1. Identify the Problem

The first step in the process is to identify the problem. Identify why this is a problem, how you discovered it and how it impacts your business. Also note when the problem started and how long it has been going on.

If the problem is small, you can try to contain it and may not need additional steps to fix it. However, if the problem is complex, move forward through the process.

2. Define the Problem

The next step involves breaking down the problem and defining what it is. It’s important to be as clear as you can with this step — a vague problem will hinder the process, whereas a clearly defined issue will allow you to take actionable steps to fix it.

Analyze factors like how high of a priority it is to solve the problem. You can also look to data and other resources to clarify or help you understand the concern.

3. Make a Goal

Create an end goal. Envision what fixing this problem would look like and feel like. What would it accomplish? How would it help you? Map out all the ways fixing this problem would benefit you and use it for motivation to achieve your goal. Set a timeline to figure how long it will take to accomplish that goal.

4. Find the Root of the Problem

Often problems are byproducts of deeper, more central problems, so make sure you dig deep enough to find out what is really causing the issue. If the problem is large and complex, break it down into individual parts.

Gather information and use it to identify the deeper issues of the problem and validate what you think the real concern may be. Take time at this step to really focus on the deep problem — executing this step effectively will save you a lot of time down the road.

Problems are byproducts of deeper, more central problems

5. Develop Actionable Steps

Create a list of realistic steps you can take to combat the problem. You can start with a large list and combine or subtract steps, but it’s important you come up with various ways to attack the problem. Use this action plan to draw up a strategy to get at the root of the problem. Each step should be specific and detail-focused — any steps that are vague or tedious will only take up time and cause confusion.

6. Execute Steps

Now that the plan is in place, all you have to do is follow through on your actionable steps. Illustrate the steps you’re taking to your team, explain why you’re taking them and delegate any steps that another employee has to perform to execute your plan.

Communication is key in this step. In most cases, you won’t be executing the plan all by yourself, so make sure you’re expressing the goals and motives of each step with your team so they can see how it connects to the bigger picture.

7. Observe and Evaluate

Monitor your strategy carefully and see how it relates to the original problem. Is it working? Is it only creating more problems? Gather data, talk to your team and be thorough and objective in your evaluation. You might have to readjust your plan as you gain new information, or you may meet your goals and the plan will be successful.

8. Continue the Process

If the plan worked, find ways to continue integrating these steps into your team’s daily routine. If they didn’t work, go back to the goal-setting process or identify some more aspects of the problem — there may be a deeper concern you missed the first time around. Communicate to your team about how the plan went.

In the future, continue using the eight-step process to solve issues and build momentum with your team.

It’s important to build a culture of problem-solving in your manufacturing plant. It can be easy to fall into the trap of “Band-Aid” solutions — quick fixes without digging into the deeper problems.

It’s believed that the eight-step problem-solving process was actually created by the Toyota Motor Corporation to achieve their admired production standards.

From the lore of Toyota, we get some great eight-step problem-solving examples.  Taiichi Ohno , the father of the Toyota Production System, observed his workers fixing only the first level of cause when their machines stopped working. To combat this, he developed a problem-solving method to methodically break down each problem of the machine until he found the root cause. Only then could he truly fix the machine.

It’s one of many eight-step problem-solving examples, and it shows the importance of creating a process to increase productivity.

Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) and the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process Differences

The eight-step problem-solving process is an expanded version of the  Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle . The first five steps of the 8-step process fall under the planning step, while steps six, seven and eight all correspond to the do, check and act steps. The eight-step process is a more detailed, methodical version of PDCA problem-solving, and converts a vague cycle into something a bit more specific and actionable.

Contact MANTEC

Gain the Problem-Solving Support You Need With MANTEC

MANTEC is the best resource center for manufacturing companies in South Central Pennsylvania. We’re a non-profit that solves any problems a manufacturing facility could have, including  sales and marketing ,  process improvement ,  manufacturing technology  and  workforce engagement .

Our expert staff has had vast experience in the manufacturing industry, and we can provide the guidance you need to get your business running at top efficiency. Our services are affordable and extremely valuable.  Contact us  today!

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What are the 7 Steps to Problem-Solving? & Its Examples

What are the 7 Steps to Problem-Solving & Its Examples (2)-compressed

7 Steps to Problem-Solving

7 Steps to Problem-Solving is a systematic process that involves analyzing a situation, generating possible solutions, and implementing the best course of action. While different problem-solving models exist, a common approach often involves the following seven steps:

Define the Problem:

  • Clearly articulate and understand the nature of the problem. Define the issue, its scope, and its impact on individuals or the organization.

Gather Information:

  • Collect relevant data and information related to the problem. This may involve research, observation, interviews, or any other method to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Generate Possible Solutions:

  • Brainstorm and generate a variety of potential solutions to the problem. Encourage creativity and consider different perspectives during this phase.

Evaluate Options:

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of each potential solution. Consider the feasibility, potential risks, and the likely outcomes associated with each option.

Make a Decision:

  • Based on the evaluation, choose the most suitable solution. This decision should align with the goals and values of the individual or organization facing the problem.

Implement the Solution:

  • Put the chosen solution into action. Develop an implementation plan, allocate resources, and carry out the necessary steps to address the problem effectively.

Evaluate the Results:

  • Assess the outcomes of the implemented solution. Did it solve the problem as intended? What can be learned from the process? Use this information to refine future problem-solving efforts.

It’s important to note that these steps are not always linear and may involve iteration. Problem-solving is often an ongoing process, and feedback from the implementation and evaluation stages may lead to adjustments in the chosen solution or the identification of new issues that need to be addressed.

Problem-Solving Example in Education

  • Certainly: Let’s consider a problem-solving example in the context of education.
  • Problem: Declining Student Engagement in Mathematics Classes

Background:

A high school has noticed a decline in student engagement and performance in mathematics classes over the past few years. Students seem disinterested, and there is a noticeable decrease in test scores. The traditional teaching methods are not effectively capturing students’ attention, and there’s a need for innovative solutions to rekindle interest in mathematics.

Steps in Problem-Solving

Identify the problem:.

  • Clearly define the issue: declining student engagement and performance in mathematics classes.
  • Gather data on student performance, attendance, and feedback from teachers and students.

Root Cause Analysis

  • Conduct surveys, interviews, and classroom observations to identify the root causes of disengagement.
  • Identify potential factors such as teaching methods, curriculum relevance, or lack of real-world applications.

Brainstorm Solutions

  • Organize a team of educators, administrators, and even students to brainstorm creative solutions.
  • Consider integrating technology, real-world applications, project-based learning, or other interactive teaching methods.

Evaluate and Prioritize Solutions

  • Evaluate each solution based on feasibility, cost, and potential impact.
  • Prioritize solutions that are likely to address the root causes and have a positive impact on student engagement.

Implement the Chosen Solution

  • Develop an action plan for implementing the chosen solution.
  • Provide training and resources for teachers to adapt to new teaching methods or technologies.

Monitor and Evaluate

  • Continuously monitor the implementation of the solution.
  • Collect feedback from teachers and students to assess the effectiveness of the changes.

Adjust as Needed

  • Be willing to make adjustments based on ongoing feedback and data analysis.
  • Fine-tune the solution to address any unforeseen challenges or issues.

Example Solution

  • Introduce a project-based learning approach in mathematics classes, where students work on real-world problems that require mathematical skills.
  • Incorporate technology, such as educational apps or interactive simulations, to make learning more engaging.
  • Provide professional development for teachers to enhance their skills in implementing these new teaching methods.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Increased student engagement and interest in mathematics.
  • Improvement in test scores and overall academic performance.
  • Positive feedback from both teachers and students.

Final Words

This problem-solving approach in education involves a systematic process of identifying, analyzing, and addressing issues to enhance the learning experience for students.

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8 Steps to Build a Solid Problem Management Process

the last step in the problem solving process is to

When multiple incidents stem from the same issue, it's a clear signal that we need to take action using a robust, step-by-step Problem Management process .

The latest ITIL framework defines a problem as "the underlying cause or potential cause of one or more incidents." It also states that the primary goal of Problem Management is to minimize the likelihood and impact of incidents by identifying actual and potential causes and by managing workarounds and known errors such as software releases and changes to updates/patches, vendor products, user mistakes, or system failures. 

But in order to handle this practice effectively, it is necessary to craft a solid process that allows you not only to resolve issues accordingly but also to detect potential issues before they arise. 

In this article, we’ll explore what Problem Management implies and why you need to implement a structured guideline to handle incidents. We’ll also detail the necessary steps to build an ITIL process for handling problems and the best practices to implement a proactive support approach to prevent incidents before they start. 

Ready to enhance your organization’s Problem Management? Let’s get into it!

Table of contents

What does problem management entail, why do you need a problem management process, benefits of having an it problem management process.

  • Challenges of a problem process flow

8 steps to build an ITIL Problem Management process

  • Best practices to build a proactive Problem Management approach

Problem Management involves identifying and resolving the underlying causes of recurring incidents. It follows a structured process that goes from the identification of a problem and progresses through analysis, also called problem control, to resolution. 

There are three ways to categorize and resolve a problem once detected: 

  • The preferred approach is to resolve issues through error control, which involves fixing known errors using the corporate Change Management practice.
  • When a problem cannot be resolved but a workaround is found, it is categorized as “a known error with a workaround.”
  • The third scenario occurs when a problem is identified, but no fix or workaround is available. This situation is recorded as a "known problem."

Known errors and known problems must be logged in a Known Error Database (KEDB) and made available to all support teams, as Problem Management relies on skilled individuals who can effectively use techniques to identify the root causes of problems . 

It is not a standalone capability but should integrate with other IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities, such as Incident Management and Change Management. This set of practices must be reassessed to ensure continuous improvement . 

Problem Management vs. Incident Management 

It is essential to remember the differences between Problem Management and Incident Management , as they can cause confusion.

An incident is described in ITIL 4 as "an unexpected interruption to a service or a decrease in its quality." Therefore, Incident Management focuses on restoring regular service operations quickly after an incident occurs, aiming to minimize its impact on the organization and restore service to users. It is typically reactive and service-oriented.

Problem Management, on the other hand, addresses the root causes of those incidents in order to prevent and improve its resolution in the future, adopting a more proactive approach.

how-to-do-proactive-it-support

9 Ways to Do Proactive IT Support – And Switch From The Break/Fix Model

The IT department in an organization often deals with a stream of tasks, complaints, incidents, and problems that require attention. Without a structured process in place, these issues can pile up, resulting in a significant waste of time and resources on easily fixable problems.

So, establishing a Problem Management process is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it helps identify and address the root causes of recurring incidents, which can significantly reduce downtime and minimize the impact on the business in the long run. 

By proactively managing problems, organizations can prevent future incidents from occurring, leading to improved service reliability and customer satisfaction. 

It also plays a pivotal role in identifying trends and patterns in incidents, which can be used to improve overall IT service quality and efficiency.

As Brian Skramstad said at Ticket Volume podcast: "Problem Management is not about solving issues with just a band-aid. We need to look for patterns and values in data so these problems don’t happen again.”

If you are still not convinced, here are some of the advantages of implementing an IT Problem Management process in your organization:

  • Reduced downtime – By proactively addressing underlying issues, organizations can minimize the impact of incidents and reduce downtime. It can also help reduce future interruptions by preventing incidents beforehand.
  • Improved service quality – Problem Management helps in identifying and addressing recurring issues, leading to improved service quality and productivity.
  • Cost savings – By preventing incidents and improving service quality, organizations can reduce the costs associated with downtime and incident resolution.
  • Continuous improvement – An efficient Problem Management process provides a mechanism for learning from incidents and improving IT services over time.
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction – Approaching Problem Management from a holistic perspective improves customer satisfaction. A well-defined process is vital to ensure customer success.

Challenges of implementing a problem process flow

Of course, defining and implementing a unified and comprehensive guideline is not an easy task. Although it is totally worth it, applying a Problem Management process requires time, effort, and resources. Let’s take a look at the main challenges :

  • Resource allocation – Implementing a Problem Management process requires dedicated resources, including staff and tools, which can be challenging for some organizations.
  • Organizational resistance – Some organizations may resist implementing a Problem Management process due to a perceived increase in workload or change in existing processes.
  • Integration with other processes –  Problem Management needs to be integrated with other ITSM processes, such as Incident Management and Change Management, which can take some time to achieve.
  • Unifying practices – When incidents are treated separately in silos, companies risk accumulating a backlog of unresolved issues, leading to problems being left unaddressed or overlooked by the appropriate teams.

ITIL Problem Management encompasses the entire problem lifecycle. Thus, the process flow involves managing problems reported as incidents by help desk agents or users through various channels, as well as potential problems detected proactively by an ITSM technology to prevent issues.

Once you've assembled your A-team, defined your main objectives, and prioritized the practice as a critical enterprise focus, follow this ITIL-aligned Problem Management workflow to establish an effective step-by-step process:

1. Problem identification

The initial step involves identifying a problem , which can occur either through a reported incident or through monitoring and analyzing IT systems. A problem is typically identified when the cause of one or more incidents reported to the help desk is unknown. In some cases, it may be evident to the service desk that a reported incident is linked to an existing problem, that is a Known Problem, which means the incident can be associated with the existing problem record. However, if the problem has not been recorded, a problem record should be created promptly to ensure service performance.

2. Problem logging

The second step involves tracking and assessing known problems to ensure teams are organized and focused on the most relevant and valuable issues. When a problem is logged, it must comprehend a complete historical record, so all problems must be logged with relevant details, including date/time, user information, description, related Configuration Item (CI) , associated incidents, resolution details, and closure information.

3. Problem categorization and prioritization

Next, there are two critical stages that need to be addressed:

  • Categorizing – After logging, problems must be categorized appropriately to assign, escalate, and monitor frequencies and trends.
  • Prioritizing – Then, assigning priority is crucial in determining how and when the problem will be addressed based on its impact and urgency. The impact is evaluated by the number of associated incidents, indicating the number of affected users or its business impact, while urgency considers how quickly resolution is needed.

4. Workaround and escalation

After this, a workaround is a temporary solution for mitigating the impact of problems and preventing them from escalating into incidents. While temporary fixes or workarounds can be provided to users experiencing related incidents, it's essential to record the problem in the KEDB and escalate it to seek a permanent resolution through Problem Management.

5. Problem investigation and diagnosis

In this step, the focus is on identifying the underlying causes of the problem and determining the most effective remedial actions. A thorough investigation into the root cause should be conducted, considering the impact, severity, and urgency of the problem. 

Standard techniques include reviewing the KEDB for similar issues and resolutions, as well as recreating the failure to pinpoint the cause.

6. Problem resolution

After identifying the root cause of the problem, a solution is developed and implemented . The solution is then implemented using the standard change procedure and tested to confirm service recovery. If an average change is needed, an associated Request For Change (RFC) is raised and approved before applying the resolution to the problem. 

7. Problem closure

After confirming that the error has been resolved, the problem and any associated incidents can be closed . The service desk technician should verify that the initial classification details are accurate for future reference and reporting.

Subsequently, the problem is closed in the Problem Management system, and all documentation is updated to reflect the resolution.

8. Problem review

Once the problem is closed, the Problem Management process undergoes a review to identify improvement opportunities and ensure that lessons learned are incorporated into future incidents.

This process flow should be iterative, with each step influencing the others, maintaining a continuous focus on enhancing the quality of IT services and minimizing the impact of problems.

4 best practices to implement a proactive Problem Management approach

Implementing a proactive Problem Management approach involves numerous practices that will help you align your business objectives with ITIL best practices :

  • Continuous monitoring – Regularly monitor systems, applications, and infrastructure to identify potential problems before they cause incidents. Use monitoring tools to track help desk performance metrics and detect anomalies.
  • Root cause analysis – Conduct thorough root cause analyses for all incidents to identify underlying issues. Use techniques like the "5 Whys" to delve deep into the root cause of problems and implement preventive measures.
  • Knowledge Management – Maintain a knowledge base containing known errors, workarounds, and resolutions. Ensure that this knowledge is accessible to support teams to expedite incident resolution and prevent future occurrences.
  • Change Management integration – Integrate Problem Management with Change Management to proactively address potential problems arising from changes. Review and analyze change records to identify trends and potential problems that may arise from planned changes.

By implementing these practices, organizations can anticipate and prevent problems, leading to improved service reliability and customer satisfaction.

A Change Management workflow enables you to communicate and manage change in a structured way.

How to Build a Change Management Workflow

Key takeaways.

In conclusion, implementing a proactive Problem Management process is crucial for minimizing the impact of recurring incidents and improving service quality. 

Key concepts include:

  • Structured process: Implement a structured Problem Management process to identify, address, and prevent underlying IT issues.
  • Integration: Integrate Problem Management with other ITSM processes like Incident and Change Management for a holistic approach.
  • Continuous improvement: Regularly review and improve the Problem Management process to enhance its effectiveness.
  • Proactive practices: Use practices like continuous monitoring, root cause analysis, and knowledge management to proactively manage problems and prevent future incidents.

Overall, Problem Management aims to improve service reliability, reduce downtime, and enhance customer satisfaction by addressing IT issues effectively. By implementing the ITIL Problem Management process flow, you’ll certainly find a more structured approach to effectively prevent and resolve problems.

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9 Key Steps for an Effective Decision Making Process [+Examples]

Last Updated on March 9, 2024 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

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Bad decisions are a significant reason why some of the biggest brands in the world went bankrupt. Businesses feel the impacts of such decisions as early as days after making them. Streaming companies’ subscribers have dropped drastically because of some changes they made to their content. 

Losing years of hard work instantly over something avoidable is difficult for anyone. Effective decision making is a skill that can be mastered by following proven decision-making models and tools, but what exactly are they, and how can you implement them?

SweetPrcoess simplifies the decision making process by facilitating communication and collaboration among teams with standardized workflow management tools. Sign up for a 14-day free trial without a credit card. 

Table of Contents

What Does the Decision Making Process Mean?

9 Key Steps For an Effective Decision Making Process

How to Build a Solid Decision-Making Process in Your Company Using SweetProcess

7 decision making models you can use in your business, tools for an effective decision-making process, decision-making process in business, decision-making process in consumer behavior, decision-making process in healthcare, decision-making process in project management, types of biases that come up in the decision-making process (and how to avoid them), empower your employees to make the right business decisions using sweetprocess, what does the decision making process mean .

The decision making process simply means a systematic guideline for choosing an alternative between two or more options. It’s a part of everyday life that transcends into business. The success or failure of any business venture results from the strategic decisions taken about it. This places a great responsibility on decision makers to tread with caution. 

Losses eventually lead to business failure. When an organization’s resources are drained to the bottom, there’s nothing left to sustain it. With the business environment ever-changing, one could argue that some losses are due to market volatility. Creating room for unforeseen circumstances is part of the decision-making process and allows you to navigate unfavorable outcomes. 

Business executives and leaders face the daunting task of decision-making with limited resources. This pressure could lead to decision-making fatigue, a condition in which leaders are too exhausted to make the right decisions. The decision-making process streamlines the selection of reasonable options and identifies the most suitable alternative to prevent decision fatigue. 

9 Key Steps For an Effective Decision Making Process 

One of the mistakes organizations make is waiting until a problem arises before developing a solution for resolving it. Such a reactive approach addresses problems on a surface level, neglecting its root causes. Adopting a proactive strategy in decision making enhances operations management by positioning businesses to operate from a vantage point. Here are some steps for creating an effective decision making process. 

Identify the Decision You Want to Make

Identifying the decision is pinpointing the problem the decision will solve. Failing to identify the problem may lead to distractions and mismanagement of resources. Ambiguous issues are costly to manage. Streamline the problem to the smallest possible units for clarity and use that to identify the decision to take. 

Structure Your Team

Single-handedly making a business decision is a recipe for disaster, as there’s only so much you know and can see from your position. You are better off building a diverse team of people who will bring different inputs to the table. Outline the dynamics of the decision and select people experienced in it. Create room for newbies who can bring fresh perspectives that haven’t been explored, as those ideas could yield better results. 

Establish Your Approach

A lack of approach in the decision making process breeds conflict with opinions clashing. Organize the process by assigning roles and delegating responsibilities to team members. Outline specific areas you want people to focus on and outline the flow of information. This prevents employees from turning the decision-making process into a competition about whose opinion is adopted.

Gather Relevant Information From Internal and External Sources

Good business decisions are based on evidence. Your organization may have encountered such a situation or something similar in the past; how was it handled? If the result is good, consider implementing the same strategy, considering any differences. Seek a completely different approach if the previous outcome wasn’t good. 

Consult external sources for information relating to a decision at hand. Resources such as market research, surveys, and case studies are very helpful. If you aren’t satisfied with your findings, engage consultants with expertise in that field for their professional input.

Promote Discussion and Debate

The decision-making process is flawed when there’s a consensus among team members too early. The goal is to find the best decision, not the most popular one. Create an environment for employees to air their views freely, even when those views aren’t popular. Having at least one person play the devil’s advocate is best. Great ideas will emerge from debating their views. 

Determine Potential Solutions and Weigh the Evidence 

Aim to have more than one decision option on the table and evaluate each one with evidence on the ground. Prevent sentiments by adopting standard frameworks such as SWOT analysis for the evaluation. Outlining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each possible solution will reveal the best ones. 

Build Closure and Alignment

Team members can disagree while communicating their different points of view, but they must agree in the end for collective success. People will directly or indirectly push back on decisions they don’t like. Enlighten your team on the importance of being on the same page and supporting the final decision. If they were part of the decision-making processes, it shouldn’t be difficult to make them see why the decision was the best among other alternatives. Reiterate the importance of putting the interest of the business above personal interests.

Implement Your Decision

There’s no guarantee that a decision will be successful until it proves itself. It takes the collective efforts of the entire team to actualize desired outcomes from chosen alternatives. This phase of the decision making process is action based. What do you need to do, and who is the best person for the job? This is an opportunity to promote team spirit by delegating activities to people based on their strengths, even if they weren’t in support of the decision initially. Create an implementation plan for the entire team to work with and hold team members accountable for their responsibilities.

Review Your Decision and Its Impact

A great way to know if you and your team made the right decision is to review your performance. The results of every business decision become visible over time. Establish a substantial time for review and critically evaluate the outcomes. 

A focal point of the review is determining whether the decision solved the problem it was intended for. Focus on the problem being completely or significantly resolved, not partially. The decision failed if the problem still exists. Revisit the drawing board.

Team members are responsible for making decisions in the tasks they execute at work daily. The outcome of their decisions depends on how knowledgeable they are about said tasks. Organizations can increase employee efficiency by documenting standard operating procedures for tasks so they don’t need to make decisions for executing their duties regularly. To actualize such a proactive strategy, you need to leverage productivity tools like SweetProcess. 

SweetProcess is a workflow management software for documenting business processes, procedures, and policies for higher efficiency. It facilitates collaboration in the decision making process and ensures that chosen alternatives are successfully executed. 

Here are some of the core features of SweetProcess.

  • Task management : Manage tasks from scratch to completion.
  • Process maps: Create visual diagrams of processes to enhance decision making.
  • Documentation: Document business processes , procedures, and policies seamlessly with new and existing templates. 
  • Automatic content creation: Create content automatically with artificial intelligence. 
  • Training: Train new and existing employees rapidly. 
  • Knowledge base : Build public and private knowledge bases accessible to teams remotely.
  • Version history: Create and manage multiple versions of documents. 
  • Integration: Integrate more than 1,000 apps for increased productivity. 
  • Collaboration: Collaborate with team members in real time. 
  • Data reporting: Track work progress from reporting data in the dashboard. 

How to Create Procedures in SweetProcess Manually

Click on “Procedures” and “Create Procedure.” 

Enter your procedure title and click on “Continue.”

Click on the pencil icon beside the title.

Enter the procedure details in the content editor and click on “Finished Editing.” 

How to Document a Procedure in SweetProcess Automatically With SweetAI 

Enter the procedure title and click on “Write with SweetAI.”

Wait while the system generates the content. It only takes a few seconds.

Click the pencil icon to edit the content.

Click on “Approve” to publish the document.

How to Create Processes in SweetProcess

Click on “Processes” and “Create Process.”

Enter the process title and click on “Continue.”

Click on “Add Step.”

Click on “Procedure.”

Select the first task or procedure from the menu.

Click on “Add Step” and “Procedure” to add the next step in the process.

All the steps you added will show on the right. Click on “Approve” to publish the process. 

How to Create Business Policies in SweetProcess Manually

Click on “More.”

Select “Policies.”

 Click on “Create Policy.”

Write the title of your policy and click on “Continue.”

Click on the pencil icon to develop your policy.

Enter the details of your policy and click “Save changes.” 

How to Create Business Policies Automatically in SweetProcess With SweetAI

Select “Policies” and click on “Create Policy.”

Enter the title of the policy and click on “Write with SweetAI.” The system will generate the policy in seconds. 

SweetProcess is popular among businesses for streamlining operations and clarifying the decision-making process. Emma Mills, owner and founder of MiPa, a virtual assistant agency, understands that skilled employees are in a better position to make good decisions. She uses SweetProcess to train team members and confirm that they understand the training. “We onboard staff and team members quite regularly. The signing off, somebody actually signing their name to say, ‘Yeah, I’ve read this process. I understand and approve it…. We can see that they’ve fully understood and they’ve signed off that they’ve gone through these training modules,” Emma says.

Chris Dunning, founder and CEO at TechQuarters, a cloud solutions IT company, found that problems arise in business due to inadequate information. He uses SweetProcess to document his organization’s processes so he and his team will have the right information to execute tasks and make better decisions. 

“What you find is that something will go wrong, and we look back then and one of the teams will say, could we add this to SweetProcess? Because if this had been done, I wouldn’t have had this problem further down the line, and each individual would look at it and go, ‘Oh yeah, great.’ And the next time around, problem solved, because we do this extra step in the process,” Chris explains. 

SweetProcess is suitable for all kinds of industries, and it’s flexible to customize to your unique needs. Sign up for a 14-day free trial without a credit card to begin your business transformation journey. 

A decision-making model offers guidelines for choosing the best alternative among several options. It visualizes the decision making processes for stakeholders’ understanding, facilitates meaningful contributions, and provides metrics for measuring the impact of your decisions. There are several decision-making models to work with.

Rational Model

The rational decision making model thrives on logic. It requires listing the options at your disposal and highlighting their pros and cons. The goal is to identify the one with the lowest risk and highest benefits after comparing them. This decision-making model is time-consuming and unsuitable for urgent situations. Here are the steps involved:

  • Identify the problem.
  • Outline and measure the decision criteria.
  • Gather and arrange related information.
  • Analyze the situation. 
  • Create a list of options.
  • Examine your options and assign a measurement value to them.
  • Pick the best options.
  • Implement the decision.
  • Review the decision.

Bounded Rationality Model

Bounded rationality is a decision-making model for making a choice based on the information at your disposal. If you operate in a fast-moving industry, you need to make great decisions quickly lest you lose opportunities. The bounded rationality model guides you in moving swiftly with the information at hand. Your decision may not be perfect in the long run, but it’s the best at the moment. 

Intuitive Model

The intuitive decision making model promotes following your instincts or intuition in making a decision. This model is best applied in business when you have ample experience or expertise in the subject. Your intuition will be a product of your professional judgment rather than sentiments. 

Recognition Primed Model

The recognition-primed decision-making model is similar to the rational model as it relies on expertise. However, it involves recognizing familiar patterns in a situation and developing solutions from a vantage point. Each potential solution is visualized from start to finish to have a clear picture of possible outcomes before selecting the best alternative. 

Decision Tree Model

A decision tree is a tree-like model depicting an action, its cost implications, possible outcomes, and consequences. It’s drawn as a flowchart and highlights the attributes of the decision in motion. Branches of the tree are the decision-making alternatives and their leaves are the outcomes of each alternative the decision maker takes. 

Political Model

The political decision-making model is a decentralized system that encourages stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process in a safe space. Team members can contribute and deliberate over ideas even when those ideas don’t align with existing rules and policies. Some people may be reluctant to share their opinions with a larger audience, especially when those opinions aren’t popular, so the model allows the creation of subgroups in the organization so people can express themselves to familiar faces. The decision of each subgroup is presented by their leader to the larger organization.

Incremental Model

The incremental decision-making model is a step-by-step approach to managing situations, eradicating the burden of making a massive decision at once. The focus is on the next logical action to take without necessarily considering the big picture which may be difficult to see. Focusing on boosting employee productivity per time, it’s handy when addressing complex situations with a lot of information to evaluate. 

The outcomes of business decisions are too significant to be based on chance. Showcasing good judgment continuously enhances an organization’s reputation and builds trust among customers. Decision-making tools enable businesses to approach decisions systematically for repetitive success. The top business decision-making tools include the following:

Decision Matrix

A decision matrix is a table with various columns containing the alternatives in a decision and their various attributes. It enables you to view all aspects of the alternatives and compare them side-by-side to determine the best choice. There’s room to outline essential criteria for the decision, and then weigh the alternatives’ attributes against the criteria to see which one meets your needs the most. 

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis – an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, is a tool for evaluating the different components of an idea for implementation. It helps in strategic planning by identifying the good and bad aspects of a decision ahead of time. An advantage of a SWOT analysis is the consideration of the internal and external factors of the decision. Factoring the results of your analysis into your plan gives your business a competitive edge. 

Pros and Cons List

A pros and cons list contains the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives in a business decision. Every decision has its negatives, but it becomes problematic if they outweigh the positives. Creating a pros and cons list helps compare both aspects so you can lean on alternatives with more pros. This tool is easier to adopt when dealing with a few decision alternatives.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis compares the benefits of a decision with its associated costs. It saves businesses the trouble of making decisions without considering underlying expenses. Alternative A may have bigger benefits than alternative B, but when you compare both benefits against their associated costs, alternative B may be better. It offers a holistic approach to decision-making, outlining the ripple effects of all alternatives. 

Pareto Analysis

Pareto analysis is a business decision making tool for prioritizing the most important aspects of a decision and saving costs. Built on an 80/20 rule, it states that you can achieve 80% of your desired results by doing 20% of its associated work. Similarly, you can solve 80% of a problem by identifying 20% of its causes. Assign a score to each attribute of an alternative and then focus on the ones with the highest scores because they are most significant to the decision. 

Six Thinking Hats

Six thinking hats are a decision-making tool for examining problems from multiple perspectives. The hats which are in different colors represent how to approach a problem based on your position. 

  • Blue Hat : The blue hat is the team leader or manager. They coordinate the decision-making process, and it’s their responsibility to understand the requirements of the decision and communicate them to other team members.
  • White Hat : The white hat is data-driven and plays a significant role at the beginning of a decision-making session to ensure that valuable information has been gathered and vetted to be factual as incorrect information will produce invalid results. It’s also essential at the end of a decision-making session to evaluate information contributed by other hats. 
  • Green Hat : The green hat opens the floor for innovative thinking and contributions. It thinks outside the box and introduces ideas that others may overlook. Other hats may not be comfortable with the green hat’s perspective, but they must be open to it. 
  • Yellow Hat : The yellow hat encourages the ideas of the green hat by highlighting their pros. The bearer plays a significant role in ensuring that other team members don’t shut down any good ideas generated by the green hat without proper consideration.
  • Red Hat : The red hat identifies the cons of any ideas the team discusses. They play the devil’s advocate by highlighting the reasons why certain opinions may not fly. Their point of view isn’t based on facts but on instincts. 
  • Black Hat : The black hat is similar to the red hat; the difference is that they argue with facts. They examine each idea critically, focusing on their loopholes, and then present objective reasons why the loopholes exist. 

The decision-making process in business relies on evidence to prioritize an alternative over others. It’s becoming more complex due to rising external market factors outside organizations’ jurisdictions. Neglecting any significant attribute impacts the validity of your decision and ultimately leads to failure. 

Businesses must incorporate these factors to enhance the impact of their decisions.

Data Collection and Analytics

Collecting and analyzing data for making business decisions eradicates assumptions—people assume things when there’s no relevant information on the ground. The data collected must be analyzed to derive meaning and direction. A data-driven business decision minimizes failure rate to the barest minimum due to insights from avoiding unfavorable conditions.

Connectivity 

A single business decision has a ripple effect across the entire organization. Executives need to consider how an alternative impacts the various areas of their organization. This entails liaising with various parties at different levels in the decision-making process to arrive at an alternative that suits all bodies. 

Contextualization 

Situations requiring business decisions are different. Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach causes incompatibility. An alternative must be contextualized to suit the problem it’s meant to resolve; otherwise, it may have surface-level results. 

Continuity 

Decision-making in business is continuous. Organizations need to be proactive in projecting favorable outcomes by identifying models and tools they can implement when situations arise. This absorbs the confusion from being taken unawares, allowing them to act swiftly. 

The consumer decision-making process explains how an average consumer evaluates a purchasing decision. Understanding this process helps businesses to position themselves well for positive outcomes as consumers engage with them through the buying process. 

The five stages in the consumer decision-making process are:

Recognizing a Need 

Need recognition is a point where a consumer becomes aware that they need a product or service. This awareness usually stems from a lack or deficiency in an area of their life. The consumer is convinced that they truly need an item from the perceived value it will offer them. Need recognition is an internal stimulus for the consumer, but as a business, you can leverage this stage by putting your product or service out there so it’s visible to the consumer once they become aware of the need. 

Searching for Information

Having acknowledged that they need a product or service, the consumer seeks more information about it. They start by recalling experiences they may have had with the item and ask themselves if those experiences were good or bad. If they have no previous encounter with the item or aren’t satisfied with it, they search for information about it online. Customer reviews, blog posts, and contributions on online forums are some of the sources of their information. 

Businesses can benefit from the information search in the consumer decision making process by creating brand awareness. This includes creating and publishing content about their products and services on their websites and other targeted platforms. Create avenues for customers to write reviews about your products and showcase the positive ones in your content. 

Evaluating Alternatives 

A consumer in this stage of the decision-making process knows what they want in a product. To get the best product on the market, they evaluate multiple alternatives, comparing each against established criteria. Factors the consumer considers in their evaluation include price, benefits, quality, and more. 

The information organizations have out there about their products or services is what the consumer uses in evaluating their alternatives. Ensure that you provide adequate information about your offering in your content to convince a prospective buyer that you are the best alternative. Create a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page on your website addressing possible questions customers may ask. 

Making a Purchase Decision 

Having examined all the alternatives based on the information available to them, the consumer makes a buying decision. An average consumer seeks the best alternative—it’s your responsibility to make your product or service appear its best to them. If you are intentional about gaining their favor from the first stage of the consumer buying decision-making process, your chances of success are higher in this stage. 

Post-Purchase Evaluation 

The last phase of a consumer decision-making process could facilitate future patronage and it could also be the last time they patronize your business. A customer who is satisfied with your product or service may leave positive reviews about it online which would encourage others to patronize you; they may even patronize you again. The reverse is the case if the customer is unsatisfied with your offering—they may leave negative reviews and never patronize you again.

As a business, you must ensure that claims about your products or services are true. This requires putting in the work to create products and services that offer significant value to users. A handful of reviews from unsatisfied customers could have damaging impacts on your brand’s reputation. 

Healthcare providers are mandated to make decisions regarding patients’ well-being every day, and these decisions have either good or bad consequences. Most healthcare decisions are either directly or indirectly about life and death. Medical practitioners must approach such decisions with caution even when they have limited time. 

The dynamics of healthcare decision-making vary in various locations, but practitioners share a common goal of giving patients the best outcomes at the time and advancing the healthcare system.

Critical evaluation is non-negotiable in healthcare decision-making because the slightest errors could lead to the immediate death of patients and the death of more people in the long run due to poor healthcare policies. 

The decision tree is common among medical practitioners, especially in urgent matters of life and death. They must decide on their next steps in a limited time while ensuring they make the best decision. The branches of the tree represent the alternatives and the leaves represent the outcomes of each alternative. They develop the leaves of the branches to see the benefits, limitations, and results of all alternatives on the tree. They compare all factors to identify an alternative that has the best outcome with the least risks. 

Decision-making in project management seeks the most efficient means for achieving maximum results. Some projects are more complex than others, making it ineffective to approach all projects in the same manner. Establishing standards for measuring time, budget, and other factors enables you to give each project the attention it deserves in the decision-making process.

In addition to the decision-making models already discussed, project managers can adopt other techniques like brainstorming and elimination by aspects. 

Brainstorming allows team members to generate ideas and deliberate on them collectively. Everyone understands the goal at hand and tasks themselves to develop a means to achieve it. Brainstorming encourages innovative thinking. All ideas are welcome—it’s the responsibility of the group to make meaning out of them. By the end of the brainstorming session, the team will have a consensus on the best alternative for the decision.

Elimination by aspects is a process of outlining all the alternatives in a decision and evaluating them based on established criteria. You weigh the options on the criteria scale and remove the lightest ones until you arrive at the heaviest alternative. It’s a good decision making technique in project management for saving time and resources. 

Making too many decisions causes fatigue. Our brains try to protect us by erecting mental barriers called biases to prevent us from evaluating decisions thoroughly and prompt us to take the easiest routes to choosing an alternative. 

Decision-making biases can be good or bad, depending on the situation. One of the qualities of a good leader is being able to recognize how they impact the decision-making process. 

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is subconsciously leaning toward ideas and alternatives that align with your preconceived beliefs when making decisions. Your brain seeks and develops familiar information, neglecting information that counters what it already knows or feels comfortable with. This could make you ignore important factors in your decisions. 

Self-Serving Bias

Self-serving bias is the influence of personal interests in decision-making. People gravitate toward alternatives that boost their self-esteem or flatter them without even realizing it. The outcome of such a decision may not be entirely bad because they score some points for the decision makers, but it isn’t in the best interest of the organization. 

Halo Effect

The halo effect is about building an impression from a single aspect of a subject and viewing all other aspects of it based on that impression. It’s the presumption that the whole of a thing is good because an aspect of it is good, and vice versa. This bias emphasizes the first impression people have about an alternative. It can be misleading in decision-making because other aspects of the chosen alternative may be bad. 

Herd Mentality

The herd mentality is a decision-making bias where people follow the crowd without evaluating a situation to see if it’s good for them. There’s the assumption that the most popular alternative is the best just because the majority of people say so. This bias is common in business environments where people aren’t encouraged to air their personal views. Business leaders must kick against having a consensus too early in the decision-making process and be intentional about giving everyone a chance to share their opinions. One way to resist the halo effect is to remember that people naturally take the easiest route instead of putting in the work to get better results. 

Sunk-Cost Fallacy

The sunk-cost fallacy bias is the resilience to continue with an endeavor because of the resources invested into it, even when the current costs are more than the benefits. For instance, you started a project with what seemed like a great plan and invested time, money, and other resources in it. A considerable time has passed, and you aren’t seeing any significant results. Rising developments show that your plan isn’t so effective, but you insist on continuing with it because you don’t want to lose your investments. 

Business climate changes, making great ideas inefficient. You need to be in tune with reality to recognize when to make a U-turn despite your investments, otherwise you will incur more losses.

Information is the core of every decision-making process. A chosen alternative is a result of the decision-maker’s judgment based on their evaluation of the information at hand. SweetProcess enables you to document your business processes and make them available to team members. Its reporting and business analytics feature informs you about how team members engage with ongoing projects. This is essential in building and managing your decision making team as you can gauge team members’ knowledge levels. Limit your chances of going bankrupt by signing up for a 14-day free trial . No credit is required; you have no obligation if you choose to walk away at the end of the trial.

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  1. 5 step problem solving method

    the last step in the problem solving process is to

  2. What Is Problem-Solving? Steps, Processes, Exercises to do it Right

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  3. 5 step problem solving method

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  4. 7 steps in problem solving

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  5. The Problem-Solving Process

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  6. An Overview Of 9 Step Problem Solving Model

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VIDEO

  1. Four Step Problem-Solving Process

  2. Problem solving process in Hindi

  3. The 10-Step Problem-Solving Process to Solve Any Problem

  4. Seven Step Problem Solving

  5. Fixing problems effectively: using a structured approach to problem solving

  6. Problem Solving Process

COMMENTS

  1. The Problem-Solving Process

    Problem-solving is an important part of planning and decision-making. The process has much in common with the decision-making process, and in the case of complex decisions, can form part of the process itself. We face and solve problems every day, in a variety of guises and of differing complexity.

  2. The Problem-Solving Process

    Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue. The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off learning everything ...

  3. What is Problem Solving? Steps, Process & Techniques

    1. 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.

  4. Guide: Problem Solving

    The Problem-Solving Process. The process of problem-solving is a methodical approach that involves several distinct stages. Each stage plays a crucial role in navigating from the initial recognition of a problem to its final resolution. Let's explore each of these stages in detail. Step 1: Identifying the Problem. This is the foundational ...

  5. Master the 7-Step Problem-Solving Process for Better ...

    Step 1: Define the Problem. The first step in the problem-solving process is to define the problem. This step is crucial because if the problem is not clearly defined, finding a solution won't be easy. The problem must be defined in a specific, measurable, and achievable way. One way to define the problem is to ask the right questions.

  6. What Is Problem-Solving? Steps, Processes, Exercises to do it Right

    Read along to learn more about the steps, techniques and exercises of the problem-solving process. The Five Stages of Problem-Solving. Step 1: Defining The Problem. Step 2: Ideating a Solution. Step 3: Choosing the Best Strategy & Committing. Step 4: Implementing your solution. Step 5: Analyzing the Results.

  7. What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)

    The problem-solving process typically includes the following steps: Identify the issue: Recognize the problem that needs to be solved. Analyze the situation: Examine the issue in depth, gather all relevant information, and consider any limitations or constraints that may be present. Generate potential solutions: Brainstorm a list of possible ...

  8. The Problem-Definition Process

    Justify the need. Understand the problem and its wider context. Write a problem statement. The Problem-Definition Process encourages you to define and understand the problem that you're trying to solve, in detail. It also helps you confirm that solving the problem contributes towards your organization's objectives.

  9. How to master the seven-step problem-solving process

    When we do problem definition well in classic problem solving, we are demonstrating the kind of empathy, at the very beginning of our problem, that design thinking asks us to approach. When we ideate—and that's very similar to the disaggregation, prioritization, and work-planning steps—we do precisely the same thing, and often we use ...

  10. The Art of Effective Problem Solving: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Step 1 - Define the Problem. The definition of the problem is the first step in effective problem solving. This may appear to be a simple task, but it is actually quite difficult. This is because problems are frequently complex and multi-layered, making it easy to confuse symptoms with the underlying cause.

  11. Adopting the right problem-solving approach

    Then check out more insights on problem-solving approaches, and dive into examples of pressing challenges organizations are contending with now. Five routes to more innovative problem solving. Author Talks: Get on the performance curve. Strategy to beat the odds. How to master the seven-step problem-solving process. Want better strategies?

  12. 5 Steps (And 4 Techniques) for Effective Problem Solving

    4. Implement the Solution. At this stage of problem solving, be prepared for feedback, and plan for this. When you roll out the solution, request feedback on the success of the change made. 5. Review, Iterate, and Improve. Making a change shouldn't be a one time action.

  13. The McKinsey guide to problem solving

    The McKinsey guide to problem solving. Become a better problem solver with insights and advice from leaders around the world on topics including developing a problem-solving mindset, solving problems in uncertain times, problem solving with AI, and much more. We use cookies to give you the best possible experience with mckinsey.com. Some are ...

  14. 5 Step Problem Solving Process

    Making a decision to alter the way your team works may also be a problem. Launching new products, technological upgrades, customer feedback collection exercises—all of these are also "problems" that need to be "solved". Here are the steps of a problem-solving process: 1. Defining the Problem. The first step in the process is often ...

  15. Unlocking the Secrets of Problem-Solving: The 8-Step Path to Success

    Step 1: Clarify the Problem. The first step in problem-solving is to clarify the problem. It involves identifying the issue, understanding its scope, and defining the problem statement. This step sets the foundation for the entire process, ensuring that everyone involved clearly understands the problem. Step 2: Break Down the Problem

  16. THE PROBLEM-SOLVING PROCESS Flashcards

    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. Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like Problem solving, The problem solving process, Step 1: Define the Problem and more.

  17. The Eight-Step Process for Solving Problems: A Complete Guide

    The 8-step problem-solving process is a powerful tool for tackling complex problems and driving organizational success. By following each step in a systematic and structured manner, you can define ...

  18. Problem Solving Steps

    Five Steps to Problem Solving. Generally there are five widely accepted steps in the problem solving process: Define the problem. Gather facts. Generate alternate options. Evaluate and implement most appropriate option. Monitor solution and evaluate result. The first step is the most difficult of all and is covered in the next section.

  19. Problem-Solving Process in 6 Steps

    Make a decision. This stage is perhaps the most complex part of the problem-solving process. Yet it involves careful analysis of the different possible courses of action followed by selecting the best solution for implementation. Make sure to choose the best option in the balance or to "bundle" a number of options together for a more ...

  20. 1.7 Assignment "Case Studies" Flashcards

    The last step in the problem-solving process is to _____. a. evaluate your work b. take action c. understand the task or need d. complete the task. a. evaluate your work. Shawn is asked to draw a diagram illustrating how to fix a piece of equipment. He writes down several types of software he could use. Which step of the five-step problem ...

  21. 8-Step Problem Solving Process

    Step 8: Continuously Improve. Look for additional opportunities to implement solution. Ensure problem will not come back and communicate lessons learned. If needed, repeat the 8-Step Problem Solving Process to drive further improvements. 8-Step Problem Solving Process.

  22. The 8-Step Problem-Solving Method

    The 8 Steps and the Problem-Solving Process. The Culture of Problem-Solving. Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) Gain Problem-Solving Support. As a manufacturing professional, you know how important it is to stay organized, keep your goals in mind and strive for success. But with all of the responsibilities and daily tasks piling up, it takes effort to ...

  23. What are the 7 Steps to Problem-Solving? & Its Examples

    7 Steps to Problem-Solving. 7 Steps to Problem-Solving is a systematic process that involves analyzing a situation, generating possible solutions, and implementing the best course of action.While different problem-solving models exist, a common approach often involves the following seven steps:

  24. 8 Steps to Build a Solid Problem Management Process

    When multiple incidents stem from the same issue, it's a clear signal that we need to take action using a robust, step-by-step Problem Management process.. The latest ITIL framework defines a problem as "the underlying cause or potential cause of one or more incidents." It also states that the primary goal of Problem Management is to minimize the likelihood and impact of incidents by ...

  25. 9 Key Steps for an Effective Decision Making Process [+Examples]

    Identifying the decision is pinpointing the problem the decision will solve. Failing to identify the problem may lead to distractions and mismanagement of resources. Ambiguous issues are costly to manage. Streamline the problem to the smallest possible units for clarity and use that to identify the decision to take. Structure Your Team