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Problem solving

Sometimes, it is not enough to just cope with the problems – they need to be solved.

Most people engage in problem solving every day. It occurs automatically for many of the small decisions that need to be made on a daily basis.

For example, when making a decision about whether to get up now or sleep in for an extra 10 minutes, the possible choices and the relative risks and benefits of obeying the alarm clock or sleeping later come automatically to mind.

Larger problems are addressed in a similar way. For example: “I have tasks that need to be done by the end of the week. How am I going to get them all done on time?”

After considering the possible strategies, 1 is chosen and implemented. If it proves to be ineffective, a different strategy is tried.

People who can define problems, consider options, make choices, and implement a plan have all the basic skills required for effective problem solving.

Sometimes following a step-by-step procedure for defining problems, generating solutions, and implementing solutions can make the process of problem solving seem less overwhelming.

Six step guide to help you solve problems

Step 1: identify and define the problem.

  • State the problem as clearly as possible. For example: “I don’t have enough money to pay the bills.”
  • Be specific about the behaviour, situation, timing, and circumstances that make it a problem. For example: “I need to pay the phone and gas bills, and I don’t have enough money to cover both this month.”

Step 2: Generate possible solutions

  • List all the possible solutions; don’t worry about the quality of the solutions at this stage.
  • Try to list at least 15 solutions, be creative and forget about the quality of the solution.
  • If you allow yourself to be creative you may come up with some solutions that you would not otherwise have thought about.

Step 3: Evaluate alternatives      

  • The next step is to go through and eliminate less desirable or unreasonable solutions.
  • Order the remaining solutions in order of preference.
  • Evaluate the remaining solutions in terms of their advantages and disadvantages.

Step 4: Decide on a solution      

  • Specify who will take action.
  • Specify how the solution will be implemented.
  • Specify when the solution will be implemented. For example: tomorrow morning, phone the gas company and negotiate to pay the gas bill next month.

Step 5: Implement the solution

  • Implement the solution as planned.

Step 6: Evaluate the outcome

  • Evaluate how effective the solution was.
  • Decide whether the existing plan needs to be revised, or whether a new plan is needed to better address the problem.
  • If you are not pleased with the outcome, return to step 2 to select a new solution or revise the existing solution, and repeat the remaining steps.

Problem solving is something we do every day.

Some problems are small or easily solved - others are more complicated and can seem overwhelming.

One way of tackling problems is to use a specific and systematic problem solving procedure. If you’ve tried to solve certain problems without much success, try these steps out and see if they help.

Learning to solve problems effectively will help you to minimise the level of stress in your life and improve your overall sense of well-being.

Try it out and see.

Where to get help

Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI)

  • 9.00am – 5.00pm, Monday to Friday
  • Phone: (08) 9227 4399
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Read more about the Centre for Clinical Interventions

See your doctor

Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222, mental health emergency response line (mherl).

  • Metro callers: 1300 55 788
  • Peel: 1800 676 822
  • Rural and remote areas 1800 552 002
  • Most people engage in problem solving daily.
  • Sometimes following a step-by-step process to define problems, consider options and make choices can make problem solving less overwhelming.
  • You can always talk to your doctor or mental health practitioner and ask for help.

This information provided by

Centre for Clinical Interventions logo

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

  • Centre for Clinical Interventions
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  • Anxiety – reversing the vicious cycle

Related sites

  • Centre for Clinical Interventions (external site)
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Department of Health

What Is Problem-Solving? Steps and Process

In our lives, there are a lot of problems revolving around us, but have you ever wondered what the problem-solving approach is for tackling these real-life issues to make our lives happier and easier. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that solving problems is the second most crucial skill that is needed by job-seekers. So, what are the approaches and steps you need to take care of for problem-solving? Let’s find it out.

What Is Problem-Solving

Problem-Solving is the process of identifying and resolving issues or challenges. It is a critical life skill necessary for various industries and everyday life. It includes identifying the problem, collecting information, producing potential solutions, assessing the alternatives, and selecting the best option.

Effective Problem-Solving skills demand analytical thinking, creative thinking, and innovations to identify the best answer to an issue. 

This blog aims to make you understand the various steps and processes involved in Problem-Solving, which will help you to effectively define, analyze, and resolve problems or issues systematically.

Points to be Considered:

What is Problem Solving?

Importance of problem solving, steps involved in problem solving, the problem solving models.

Watch this video to know about Agile Project Management

What is Problem-Solving?

In the domain of project management , problem-solving is the process of finding solutions to challenges or difficulties. Problem-Solving is the process of finding solutions to challenges or difficulties. It helps determine the issue, examine the situation, come up with alternative solutions, and decide on the best way to proceed. Critical thinking, creativity, and good communication are all necessary for effective Problem-Solving to come up with a solution. Problem-Solving aims to identify a solution that addresses the issue and helps in its resolution.

Effective Problem-Solving is a valuable skill in both personal and professional life because it enables individuals and organizations to make smarter choices and come up with innovative solutions to challenges. It requires persistence, patience, and a willingness to learn from failures and successes.

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The ability to solve problems is an essential life skill that is necessary for both the personal and professional worlds. It improves decision-making skills, increases productivity, and reduces stress. Here are some of the reasons why improving Problem-Solving skills is important for every individual:

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  • Increases creativity- The process of Problem-Solving requires creativity skills, as it involves generating new ideas and approaches to challenges.
  • Increases confidence- Successfully solving problems builds confidence and helps individuals feel more empowered to tackle challenges in the future.
  • Improves critical thinking- Problem-Solving requires critical thinking skills, which help individuals analyze and evaluate situations, making them more informed decision-makers.
  • Enhances teamwork and collaboration- Problem-Solving often involves collaboration, which helps build teamwork skills and strengthens relationships.
  • Reduces stress- Effective Problem-Solving can reduce stress by providing individuals and organizations with solutions to challenges and resolving conflicts.

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Steps involved in Problem-Solving

It is important to remember that Problem-Solving is frequently changing procedures and sometimes there may not be an instant solution. In these situations, it could be required to return to the earlier Problem-Solving process, collect additional data, and come up with new ideas.

Effective Problem-Solving requires patience and a willingness to learn from failures and successes. Therefore, the steps needed to solve a problem can vary based on its nature; however, we will give you a basic idea about the Problem-Solving steps.

  • Identify the problem- The first step in Problem-Solving is to clearly describe the issue and understand its scope and consequences. To achieve this, it is necessary to clearly define the issue that needs to be solved as well as its signs and fundamental reasons.
  • Gather information- Once the problem is defined, the next step is to collect data and information relevant to the problem. This can include research, interviews, surveys, and other methods to understand the problem better and gather relevant information.
  • Create solutions- The next step is to think of various approaches to the issue and discuss potential solutions. This may involve working with others to develop fresh ideas and viewpoints as well as taking into consideration of various Problem-Solving strategies.
  • Evaluate solutions- Once possible solutions are generated, the next step is to evaluate them and determine the best course of action. This involves analyzing the potential outcomes of each solution, considering the resources and limitations involved, and selecting the best option.
  • Choose the best solution- Pick the best solution and carry it out based on the evaluation. This calls for a detailed implementation plan that specifies the tasks to be performed, the required resources, and the timeline for completion.
  • Check the results- The final step is to check the results and make any necessary corrections. This involves monitoring the solution’s progress, evaluating its impacts, and making any appropriate changes to ensure the best result.

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Problem-Solving models are frameworks that provide a structured approach to identifying, analyzing, and resolving problems. There are several models to choose from, and each has its unique strengths and weaknesses.

  • Scientific Model- The Scientific Model is an organized and practical method of Problem-Solving that includes observation, inquiry, formation of theories, testing, and evaluation of results. To create new information and technologies, this model is frequently used in the engineering and scientific fields.
  • Design Thinking Model- The Design Thinking Model is a user-centered method of Problem-Solving that includes understanding the needs of the user, describing the issue, coming up with solutions, prototyping, and testing them.

This model is widely used in industries where user-centered methods are significant, such as product design, software development, and others.

  • Creative Problem-Solving Model- The Creative Problem-Solving Model (CPS) is a thorough method for solving problems, that entails describing the issue, generating ideas, creating solutions, and then putting those solutions into practice and assessing them.

This method is regularly used in industries including education, business, and other fields where creative Problem-Solving is important.

  • Polya’s Problem-Solving Model- Polya’s Problem-Solving Model is a four-step method that involves analyzing the issue, coming up with a strategy, putting the plan into action, and assessing the outcome.

This model is popular in mathematics and science education and is seen as an easy-to-use but powerful method of Problem-Solving.

  • Systematic Problem-Solving Model- This model is widely used in business and management to handle complex problems in a structured and systematic manner.

The ability to solve problems is a crucial one that may be used in both personal and professional situations. There are various Problem-Solving models, which we discussed above in the blog each having its strengths. The models used will depend on the nature of the problem and the particular circumstances.

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The goal of Problem-Solving is to find a solution that effectively resolves the issue successfully. It is our guidance to you that, always have an open mind, remain engaged, and be persistent in your efforts for the correct solution.

With time and practice, you will become a skilled problem-solver, who will be capable of tackling any type of complex challenge.

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A Complete Guide to know What is Problem Solving (Updated December 2023)

Everything happening in this world has its problems. This is because no system in this world has 100% efficiency. But this is not a big issue for the people who are prepared to deal with any kind of problem. The field that is heavily affected by the problems in the field of companies and organizations.

problem solving is a process of generating solutions from

This is because a lot of employees are working in different departments under the same name. The problem for one employee or one department can cause issues for others. This is why the employees are given special problem-solving training. Here we will discuss what is problem-solving and some effective steps involved.

What is problem solving?

Problem-solving isa process of solving any kind of problem. This process is acted upon in some steps. These steps start from identifying the problem and determining the cause of the problem. After the problem and its cause are identified, the next step is to select alternatives for the solution and implement the solutions.

All of these steps are collectively known as a problem-solving process.

The basic steps involved in problem-solving.

As the problem-solving process comprises different steps that collectively help in getting id of the problem. So, here we will have a detailed discussion about the steps that are involved in problem-solving.

Defining the problem.

Defining the problem means that you are diagnosing the situation. This helps take the further steps for solving the problem. This is not just as simple as defining the problem. Here you take effective measures to keep track of the situation of the problem. Some of the most effective and easy to implement ways of defining the problem are listed below.

·       Flowcharts of the process and the problem init.

·       Cause and effect diagram.

With the help of these steps, you can easily identify the root causes of the problem. However, for these ways of defining the problem, you must involve the factual information and then compare the expectations to reality. Apart from this, you also need to stay focused on the root cause of the problem as eradicating this will be your main objective here.

To create a successful deduction for problem-solving in this step, you will first need to review different sectors of your system. Then you will have to evaluate things on the base of how something will affect the system.

Generating the alternatives.

Once you have gone through the first step, the next step will be to get the solution for the problem. It is in our psyche that once we think of an idea or solution, then we keep on thinking that it will be effective. But in reality, this will not happen every time and you will waste a lot of time coming up with another effective solution.

So, here the best thing to do is to come up with more than more solutions at a time. For this, you can do the following things.

·       Take ideas from different employees.

·       Mold your original idea according to different aspects of the problem.

·       Think of other than one effective idea.

When you are going with a set of ideas for the backup, you will be very efficient in solving the problem. This is because if one idea fails, you can implement another one and this can be carried on until you have solved the problem.

Evaluating and selecting alternatives.

So, now you know that you have to come up with more than one idea, but how will you know if the ideas are effective or not. For this, you can easily evaluate the ideas that come up in your mind. This will help in filtering out only the best and the most effective ideas. Here is how this works.

·       Will this solution be able to solve the specific problem without causing other problems in the system?

·       Will all the people and stakeholders of the system accept the solution?

·       Is the solution that I have come up with possible and easy to implement?

·       Will the solution and the alternatives be in the constraints of the organization?

When you think of all the ideas and their alternatives, you will be very efficiently filtering out the ideas that do not seem to be working.

problem solving is a process of generating solutions from

Implementing the solutions.

Now you are in the state where you have the ideas, the solutions, and the alternatives of these solutions. The only step left to get the problem solved is to implement the solution. This is also not a very simple step. Here are some things that you must include in this step to increase the efficiency of your solution.

·      Involving others.

One of the best things to do is to involve others in the implementation of your solution. This will not only reduce the stress that you will have to bear. But this will also add other innovative ideas that come in their minds. This can be very helpful in making the solution to the problem better.

·      Testing and expectations of the solution.

When you are implementing or you have implemented the solution, it is very important to keep constantly monitoring the solution and its working. For this, you can test the solutions’ working at different events. Testing the outcomes and comparing when with the expectations will also give you the idea of how well the solution is performing.

·      Feedback system.

When you have implemented the solution, the role that you will play in the future will be lower than the role of other employees. So, you must take feedback after sometime. The feedback system will tell you about the feelings of people about your solution and its working. This will also help in improving the solution.

Some important things to consider in each of the problem-solving steps.

Above in the article, we discussed the significance of each step involved in problem-solving. Here we will discuss some additional things that you must be aware of. This is because they will not only make your problem-solving experience better, but they will also make your problem-solving techniques more efficient.

Knowing your problem in a good way:

If you are thinking about what is problem solving and how important it is to define the problem. Then we will tell you here the importance of defining the problem and some of the best ways to implement it. It is a must for solving any problem that you must know the real cause and the root of the problem.

This is because the smaller problems can be identified and solved easily. But when we are dealing with the problems on the level of different organizations, then it is very important to get rid of the problem from the start. This is because if the problem is not fully identified, then it will never be truly eradicated.

And this will keep on damaging the company in several ways. For the problem identifying methods we mentioned above, the initiative for any of the methods can be taken for different tools. Some of the tools are the 5 W’s, the root cause analysis, and appreciation. This is also very important that you consider each of them carefully from different perspectives.

This is because the cause of the problem could be an unreasonable workload or lack of training but if unidentified, this can be extremely bad.

Knowing about the complexity of the problem.

While you are solving any problem, you must understand that every problem will not have the same scope and the time required for every problem will be different. This is because the complexity of each problem is different. There are a lot of tools and methods to know about the complexity of the problem. Some of them are listed below.

·       Affinity diagrams.

·       Swim Lane diagram.

·       System diagram.

·       Flow charts.

·       Bottleneck method.

After identifying different factors of the problem, you can implement any of these tools and this will tell you about the complexity of the problem. Sometimes a problem that seems to be a single problem is a collection of different smaller problems.

This is the point where the drill-down technique can be very helpful. It will easily and efficiently breakdown the problem into smaller parts.

Process of solving the problem.

So, there can be a case that the problem is very small, and it can easily be dealt with. But inmost of the cases, the problem is not that simple, and it is a collection of several complex problems related to different departments.

In this case, the head of the problem-solving team must take different members from different departments that will help in solving that problem using the tools, tricks methods, and tips we mentioned above.

With the increasing complexities in different organizations, many people are asking what is problem solving. If you are also uncertain about what is problem solving, then this will be the article that will tell you all about what is problem solving.

This is because it will not only tell you about some of the most effective techniques for solving different problems, but the tips, tools, and methods we mentioned here can also be very helpful for everyone in dealing with complex problems.

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