Five Simple Steps to Problem Solving

We all encouPuzzlenter problems in our day-to-day life. How we handle these problems can mean the difference between success and failure and ongoing stress.

Often we spend far too much time trying to resolve problems such that we forget to carry out our normal day-to-day activities which simply creates more problems and less time to get things done. Taking a long time to come up with solutions to problems only makes things worse, resulting in increased levels of stress and frustration, making problem solving more difficult than needs be.

I leant a simple five stage process early in my career which allowed me to solve problems in as short a time frame as possible. This process can be seen below.

The five simple steps to problem solving are;

  1. Define the problem.
  2. What are the root causes of the problem.
  3. Develop several possible solutions.
  4. Decide which is the best solution or combination of solutions.
  5. Implement the solution.

It is essential to define and agree the problem before moving on to the next stage. All to often people jump around the first three stages and lack the focus and clarity required to be able to come up with possible solutions and ultimately agreeing the best way forward and implementing the agreed solution.

It is much easier to come up with solutions if one has a clear definition of the problem. In carefully managing the process, time is saved by the group focussing on one stage at a time and then and only then moving on the next stage.

Jumping around the process usually results in debate with little agreement taking place. When this happens one is likely to meet statements like;

That can’t possibly work.

You are wrong!

We have tried that before.

We can’ do that! etc.

Follow the five steps in sequence and I will guarantee that not only will you solve more problems but you will also save time along the way.

If after stage three you were fortunate enough to generate lots of possible solutions to the problem in view, this can make stage four time consuming and fraught with difficulty as debates ensue as to the best way forward. If this happens to be the case, I would recommend taking a look at the business opportunity matrix which should help clarify the most appropriate course of course of action to take and save time and arguments on the best solution allowing the process to be brought back on track.

Give it a go.