Problem Solving Tips

Problem-solving steps:⠀

Step 1 – Identify the problem. This is where you explain the problem situation. Keep asking “Why?” to continue diving deeper to discover the root cause of the problem.⠀

Step 2 – Determine solution criteria. Define the goals and objectives the solution must satisfy. These might include staying within a certain cost level or time frame.⠀

Step 3 – Generate potential solutions. Brainstorm all possible solutions. Depending on the complexity of the problem, it may be important to include subject matter experts in this step.⠀

Step 4 – Analyze each potential solution. Analyze each potential solution against the criteria (goals and objectives). Which solution makes the most sense based on your constraints such as budget, personnel resources and time? I sometimes create a table that lists each solution and each criterion with check marks or brief comments to rate each solution against all the various criteria.⠀

Step 5 – Select the best solution. Based on your evaluation, choose the best solution and why it makes the most sense.⠀

Step 6 – Determine an implementation plan. Determine how the recommended solution could be implemented and tracked for success. This is the “who, when, where and how” description. If possible, include cost and time estimates.⠀

Step 7 – Document the information. Include the information from steps one through six in a one-page document (absolutely no more than two pages!). Keeping your document short will force you to carefully think through the situation and get right to the point.⠀

Step 8 – Meet with your boss. Most managers are short on time, so putting your information into a concise document makes it easier when you meet to discuss your ideas.⠀

Next time, don’t bring a problem to your manager, use the rational decision-making model and bring the solution instead. Then watch your value as an employee increase.⠀

~ Lisa Quast – Forbes.com⠀

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