Four Step Problem Solving Process

At this stage, it's also important to ensure that you look at the issue from a variety of perspectives.

If you commit yourself too early, you can end up with a problem statement that's really a solution instead.

The articles in this section of Mind Tools therefore focus on helping you make a success of the first of these steps – defining the problem.

A very significant part of this involves making sense of the complex situation in which the problem occurs, so that you can pinpoint exactly what the problem is.

So, being a confident problem solver is really important to your success.

Much of that confidence comes from having a good process to use when approaching a problem.The key to a good problem definition is ensuring that you deal with the real problem – not its symptoms.For example, if performance in your department is substandard, you might think the problem is with the individuals submitting work.Whether you're solving a problem for a client (internal or external), supporting those who are solving problems, or discovering new problems to solve, the problems you face can be large or small, simple or complex, and easy or difficult.A fundamental part of every manager's role is finding ways to solve them.However, for a more comprehensive process, you can use Simplex, Appreciative Inquiry or Soft Systems Methodology (SSM).These provide detailed steps that you can use to solve a problem effectively.For example, consider this problem statement: "We have to find a way of disciplining of people who do substandard work." This doesn't allow you the opportunity of discovering the real reasons for under-performance.The CATWOE checklist provides a powerful reminder to look at many elements that may contribute to the problem, and to expand your thinking around it.Simplex involves an eight-stage process: problem finding, fact finding, defining the problem, idea finding, selecting and evaluating, planning, selling the idea, and acting.These steps build upon the basic process described earlier, and they create a cycle of problem finding and solving that will continually improve your organization.

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