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The good news is that there are numerous tools you can use to make sense of this tangled mess!
There are four basic steps in solving a problem: Steps 2 to 4 of this process are covered in depth in other areas of Mind Tools.
For these, see our sections on Creativity for step 2 (generating alternatives); Decision Making for step 3 (evaluating and selecting alternatives); and Project Management for step 4 (implementing solutions).
If you stop here you may miss the opportunity to reduce a repeat performance. You will be rewarded if you stay focused and wait until you have all of the information needed to uncover the root cause and implement the appropriate corrections. Having the skills just provides the ability to get to the sources of issues.
You may be tempted to just think that it was a purchasing or inventory error and be satisfied, but go deeper. Putting the skills into action is what will produce results.
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.Although each of us may not naturally possess the optimum skill set for problem solving, obtaining the appropriate skills can be attained. Analytical The ability to dissect an issue and identify the cause and effect of multiple, related branches. Keep asking questions until you discover the true reason order 67543 did not ship on time.This includes being able to decipher relevant information from irrelevant and reliable data from unreliable data. Open-minded Welcoming new ideas from yourself and others is very important. Most people think they are open-minded but their thinking and actions indicate otherwise. Inquisitive Asking questions is the one essential element to getting to the bottom of an issue. A: Engineering said they had a new part to replace it. It is only at this point that you can resolve the issue and increase performance. In most cases, when you get to the root of one problem and take steps to make the appropriate corrections, you will be stopping the occurrence of multiple new problems. Of the four attributes above, analytical may be the most difficult to master.However, if you look a bit deeper, the real issue might be a lack of training, or an unreasonable workload.help you ask the right questions, and work through the layers of a problem to uncover what's really going on.When your problem is simple, the solution is usually obvious, and you don't need to follow the four steps we outlined earlier.So it follows that when you're taking this more formal approach, your problem is likely to be complex and difficult to understand, because there's a web of interrelated issues.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.Many of the tools in this section help you do just that.We look at these, and then review some useful, well-established problem-solving frameworks.