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Eight Steps To Practical Problem Solving

Problem solving

The Toyota Way To Problem Solving

The art of problem solving is constantly trying to evolve and be re-branded by folks in various industries. While the new way might very well be an effective method in certain applications. A tried and true way of identifying and solving problems is the eight steps to practical problem solving developed by Toyota, years ago. The system is structured, but simple and practical enough to handle problems of the smallest nature, to the most complex issues.

Using a fundamental and strategic way to solve problems creates consistency within an organization. When you base your results off facts, experience and common sense, the results form in a rational and sustainable way.

Problem Solving Solution

The Eight Step Problem Solving Process

  • Clarify the Problem
  • Breakdown the Problem
  • Set the Target
  • Analyze the Root Cause
  • Develop Countermeasures
  • Implement Countermeasures
  • Monitor Results and Process
  • Standardize and Share Success

The eight steps to practical problem solving also include the Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) cycle. Steps one through five are the planning process. The doing is found in step six. Step seven is the checking . Step eight involves acting out the results of the new standard.

This practical problem solving can be powerful tool to issues facing your organization. It allows organizations to have a common understanding of what defines a problem and what steps are going to be taken in order to overcome the problem efficiently.

The Eight Steps Broken Down:

Step 1: clarify the problem.

A problem can be defined in one of three ways. The first being, anything that is a deviation from the standard. The second could be the gap between the actual condition and the desired condition. With the third being an unfilled customer need.

In order to best clarify the problem, you have to see the problem with your own eyes. This gives you the details and hands-on experience that will allow you to move forward in the process.

Step 2: Breakdown the Problem

Once you’ve seen the problem first hand, you can begin to breakdown the problem into more detailed and specific problems. Remember, as you breakdown your problem you still need to see the smaller, individual problems with your own eyes. This is also a good time to study and analyze the different inputs and outputs  of the process so that you can effectively prioritize your efforts. It is much more effective to manage and solve a bunch of micro-problems one at a time, rather than try and tackle a big problem with no direction.

Step 3: Set the Target

setting goals, root cause analysis

Step three is all about commitment and focus. Your attention should now turn towards focusing on what is needed to complete the project and how long it will take to finish. You should set targets that are challenging, but within limits and don’t put a strain on the organization that would hinder the improvement process.

Step 4: Analyze the Root Cause

This is a vital step when problem solving, because it will help you identify the actual factors that caused the issue in the first place. More often than not, there are multiple root causes to analyze. Make sure you are considering all potential root causes and addressing them properly. A proper root cause analysis, again involves you actually going to the cause itself instead of simply relying on reports.

Step 5: Develop Countermeasures

Once you’ve established your root causes, you can use that information to develop the countermeasures needed to remove the root causes. Your team should develop as many countermeasures needed to directly address any and all root causes. Once you’ve developed your countermeasures, you can begin to narrow them down to the most practical and effective based off your target.

Step 6: Implement Countermeasures

Now that you have developed your countermeasures and narrowed them down, it is time to see them through in a timely manner. Communication is extremely important in step six. You’ll want to seek ideas from the team and continue to work back through the PDCA cycle to ensure nothing is being missed along the way. Consider implementing one countermeasure at a time to monitor the effectiveness of each.

You will certainly make mistakes in throughout your problem solving processes, but your persistence is key, especially in step six.

Step 7: Monitor Results and Process

As mistakes happen and countermeasures fail, you need a system in place to review and modify them to get the intended result. You can also determine if the intended outcome was the result of the action of the countermeasure, or was it just a fluke? There is always room for improvement in the problem solving process, but you need to be able to recognize it when it comes to your attention.

Step 8: Standardize and Share Success

Now that you’ve encountered success along your problem solving path, it is time to set the new processes as the new standard within the organization and share them throughout the organization. It is also a good time to reflect on what you’ve learned and address any possible unresolved issues or troubles you have along the way. Ignoring unresolved issues will only lead to more problems down the road.

Finally, because you are a true Lean organization who believes continuous improvement never stops, it is time to tackle the next problem. Start the problem solving process over again and continue to work towards perfection.

Additional Resources

  • 8D for Problem Solving – creativesafetysupply.com
  • Training to Use 8D Problem-Solving Tactics – blog.creativesafetysupply.com
  • The Great Root Cause Problem Solving Debate – realsafety.org
  • Design Thinking: Empathy and Iteration for Innovation and Problem-Solving – creativesafetypublishing.com
  • 10 Commandments to Continuous Improvement – lean-news.com
  • Lean Manufacturing Implementation – The First 5 Steps – iecieeechallenge.org
  • “No Problem” is a Problem – jakegoeslean.com
  • The Transitional Steps Involved In The 5s Principles During Implementation – 5snews.com
  • The Tools of Kaizen – blog.5stoday.com

Related posts:

  • 3P and Lean
  • The Vacation Paradox
  • Why Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)?
  • Total Quality Management And Kaizen Principles In Lean Management
  • An Engaged Employee is a Productive Employee
  • Jim Womack’s Top Misconceptions of the Lean Movement
  • Muda, Mura, and Muri: The Three Wastes


Toyota Practical Problem Solving (PPS)—Introduction

a practical problem solving

The Framework: PDCA

PDCA Circle

  • Plan is to identify and clarify the problem, including collecting data to understand the problem, setting a target, and doing a root-cause analysis.
  • Do is the development and implementation of countermeasures.
  • Check verifies whether these countermeasures were effective and the target has been reached.
  • Act is to re-do and further improve if the targets have not been met (yet). If it was successful, the Act part looks for other locations and applications where this solution could be used (e.g., if it was a smaller trial to be rolled out on a larger scale). Toyota also shares these yokoten on an internal website with other plants.


Toyota practical problem solving consists of the steps as listed below. Note that sometimes you have a step more if you decide to split a step into two.

  • Clarify the Problem
  • Break Down the Problem
  • Set a Target
  • Root-Cause Analysis
  • Develop Countermeasures and Implement
  • Monitor Process and Results
  • Standardize and Share

I will explain all these steps in much more detail, including the risks and difficulties, throughout this small series of posts. But before explaining these steps in detail, let me also show you the structure.

The Structure: A3

You probably know the structure already, or at least have heard of it: it is the famous A3 . This report, named after the standard A3 paper size, is commonly used at Toyota to tackle medium-sized problems. The A3 format was chosen because it was a good compromise between getting lots of data on a single page and also having a page small enough to be carried around on the shop floor. (And, as legend has it, A3 was supposedly the largest format to fit though a fax machine back in the day).

You will find all the steps from above again in this A3 format, an example of which is shown below, plus the obligatory header row with organizational data like title, date, and so on.

a practical problem solving

The A3 is intended to be filled out in pencil (not pen), which makes changing content easy by using an eraser. Nowadays digital tools are also often used, although Toyota still does this mostly by hand using pencil on paper. Digital A3s are easier to share and look prettier, but they are harder to make and much more effort is needed in creating the A3. If you have ever created an A3 in Microsoft Excel, you know what I am talking about (as Excel is wholly unsuited for such graphical work…Ugh!)

a practical problem solving

The “Do” part is actually quite small. If you understand the problem well, the solutions are rather easy. If you don’t understand the problem, you still may have a solution, but it will probably be an inferior one, if it works at all. Similarly, the Check and Act are also rather small.

In my experience, this is often done differently (and in my opinion worse) in many other Western companies. The focus is all on doing something, implementing some sort of solution. There is a bit of planning, but the vast majority of the effort goes into the “Do” part. The “Check” and “Act” parts are quite underdeveloped, if they exist at all.

A fancy presentation often substitutes for “Check,” resulting in many supposedly successful projects that did not improve much or even made it worse. Below I compared the normal representation of the PDCA circle having four equal quadrants with a PDCA circle based on the effort by Japanese or Toyota standards, and another PDCA circle based on the effort of (way too many) Western companies. I’ll let you be the judge on how this is in your company.

a practical problem solving

Over and over again I guide people through the practical problem-solving process, and at every single step they jump to a solution. Let’s take a (fictitious) example for the steps of the problem solving, where every step is going right for the solution, ignoring the initial purpose of the step:

  • Clarify the Problem: Well, we need kanban!
  • Break Down the Problem: Okay, how many kanban do we need?
  • Set a Target: That’s how many kanban we need!
  • Root-Cause Analysis: Um… we did this already. It’s the lack of kanban…
  • Develop Countermeasures and Implement: Add kanban!
  • Monitor Process and Results: Do we have kanban now? Yes, we do. Case closed.
  • Standardize and Share: Hey, guys, use kanban!

a practical problem solving

PS: Many thanks to the team from the Toyota Lean Management Centre at the Toyota UK Deeside engine plant in Wales, where I participated in their 5-day course. This course gave us a lot of access to the Toyota shop floor, and we spent hours on the shop floor looking at processes. In my view, this the only generally accessible course by Toyota that gives such a level of shop floor involvement.

6 thoughts on “Toyota Practical Problem Solving (PPS)—Introduction”

Great ‘ Flow ‘ and easy to understand , specially for many who have limited exposure. Thanks

Thank you for sharing. PDCA is applicable on the shop floor, logistics, service industry – wherever Problems are accurately defined

Nice blog. I’m working in an NHS Production System (NHSps) design based on the Toyota and VMI Production Systems. Do you have any experience in this area?

Hi Tom, sorry, I am completely unfamiliar with the NHS production system. if you mean the National Health Service in the UK, I do have a bit of experience with lean Hospital.

Might I suggest a dry erase marker and a whiteboard? After a few times when the document structure is mostly stable, you can add lines with a permanent marker to fix the format in place. That way you’re not creating extra friction for the process.

As for actual A3, that works best when the A3 paper and printers that can print it are already readily available. I’m sure you ran across more than one business where just about every single printer on site can’t print anything larger than A4 or A3 paper simply isn’t available due to A4 used for everything.

Hi Andrey, I am a great fan of erasable notes, and use dry erase whiteboard markers a lot myself. An A3 printer is also really helpful, but just as you said, not every (small) business has one. For example, I only have an A4 printer in my office…

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35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving complex problems

Problem solving workshop

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All teams and organizations encounter challenges as they grow. There are problems that might occur for teams when it comes to miscommunication or resolving business-critical issues . You may face challenges around growth , design , user engagement, and even team culture and happiness. In short, problem-solving techniques should be part of every team’s skillset.

Problem-solving methods are primarily designed to help a group or team through a process of first identifying problems and challenges , ideating possible solutions , and then evaluating the most suitable .

Finding effective solutions to complex problems isn’t easy, but by using the right process and techniques, you can help your team be more efficient in the process.

So how do you develop strategies that are engaging, and empower your team to solve problems effectively?

In this blog post, we share a series of problem-solving tools you can use in your next workshop or team meeting. You’ll also find some tips for facilitating the process and how to enable others to solve complex problems.

Let’s get started! 

How do you identify problems?

How do you identify the right solution.

  • Tips for more effective problem-solving

Complete problem-solving methods

  • Problem-solving techniques to identify and analyze problems
  • Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions

Problem-solving warm-up activities

Closing activities for a problem-solving process.

Before you can move towards finding the right solution for a given problem, you first need to identify and define the problem you wish to solve. 

Here, you want to clearly articulate what the problem is and allow your group to do the same. Remember that everyone in a group is likely to have differing perspectives and alignment is necessary in order to help the group move forward. 

Identifying a problem accurately also requires that all members of a group are able to contribute their views in an open and safe manner. It can be scary for people to stand up and contribute, especially if the problems or challenges are emotive or personal in nature. Be sure to try and create a psychologically safe space for these kinds of discussions.

Remember that problem analysis and further discussion are also important. Not taking the time to fully analyze and discuss a challenge can result in the development of solutions that are not fit for purpose or do not address the underlying issue.

Successfully identifying and then analyzing a problem means facilitating a group through activities designed to help them clearly and honestly articulate their thoughts and produce usable insight.

With this data, you might then produce a problem statement that clearly describes the problem you wish to be addressed and also state the goal of any process you undertake to tackle this issue.  

Finding solutions is the end goal of any process. Complex organizational challenges can only be solved with an appropriate solution but discovering them requires using the right problem-solving tool.

After you’ve explored a problem and discussed ideas, you need to help a team discuss and choose the right solution. Consensus tools and methods such as those below help a group explore possible solutions before then voting for the best. They’re a great way to tap into the collective intelligence of the group for great results!

Remember that the process is often iterative. Great problem solvers often roadtest a viable solution in a measured way to see what works too. While you might not get the right solution on your first try, the methods below help teams land on the most likely to succeed solution while also holding space for improvement.

Every effective problem solving process begins with an agenda . A well-structured workshop is one of the best methods for successfully guiding a group from exploring a problem to implementing a solution.

In SessionLab, it’s easy to go from an idea to a complete agenda . Start by dragging and dropping your core problem solving activities into place . Add timings, breaks and necessary materials before sharing your agenda with your colleagues.

The resulting agenda will be your guide to an effective and productive problem solving session that will also help you stay organized on the day!

a practical problem solving

Tips for more effective problem solving

Problem-solving activities are only one part of the puzzle. While a great method can help unlock your team’s ability to solve problems, without a thoughtful approach and strong facilitation the solutions may not be fit for purpose.

Let’s take a look at some problem-solving tips you can apply to any process to help it be a success!

Clearly define the problem

Jumping straight to solutions can be tempting, though without first clearly articulating a problem, the solution might not be the right one. Many of the problem-solving activities below include sections where the problem is explored and clearly defined before moving on.

This is a vital part of the problem-solving process and taking the time to fully define an issue can save time and effort later. A clear definition helps identify irrelevant information and it also ensures that your team sets off on the right track.

Don’t jump to conclusions

It’s easy for groups to exhibit cognitive bias or have preconceived ideas about both problems and potential solutions. Be sure to back up any problem statements or potential solutions with facts, research, and adequate forethought.

The best techniques ask participants to be methodical and challenge preconceived notions. Make sure you give the group enough time and space to collect relevant information and consider the problem in a new way. By approaching the process with a clear, rational mindset, you’ll often find that better solutions are more forthcoming.  

Try different approaches  

Problems come in all shapes and sizes and so too should the methods you use to solve them. If you find that one approach isn’t yielding results and your team isn’t finding different solutions, try mixing it up. You’ll be surprised at how using a new creative activity can unblock your team and generate great solutions.

Don’t take it personally 

Depending on the nature of your team or organizational problems, it’s easy for conversations to get heated. While it’s good for participants to be engaged in the discussions, ensure that emotions don’t run too high and that blame isn’t thrown around while finding solutions.

You’re all in it together, and even if your team or area is seeing problems, that isn’t necessarily a disparagement of you personally. Using facilitation skills to manage group dynamics is one effective method of helping conversations be more constructive.

Get the right people in the room

Your problem-solving method is often only as effective as the group using it. Getting the right people on the job and managing the number of people present is important too!

If the group is too small, you may not get enough different perspectives to effectively solve a problem. If the group is too large, you can go round and round during the ideation stages.

Creating the right group makeup is also important in ensuring you have the necessary expertise and skillset to both identify and follow up on potential solutions. Carefully consider who to include at each stage to help ensure your problem-solving method is followed and positioned for success.

Document everything

The best solutions can take refinement, iteration, and reflection to come out. Get into a habit of documenting your process in order to keep all the learnings from the session and to allow ideas to mature and develop. Many of the methods below involve the creation of documents or shared resources. Be sure to keep and share these so everyone can benefit from the work done!

Bring a facilitator 

Facilitation is all about making group processes easier. With a subject as potentially emotive and important as problem-solving, having an impartial third party in the form of a facilitator can make all the difference in finding great solutions and keeping the process moving. Consider bringing a facilitator to your problem-solving session to get better results and generate meaningful solutions!

Develop your problem-solving skills

It takes time and practice to be an effective problem solver. While some roles or participants might more naturally gravitate towards problem-solving, it can take development and planning to help everyone create better solutions.

You might develop a training program, run a problem-solving workshop or simply ask your team to practice using the techniques below. Check out our post on problem-solving skills to see how you and your group can develop the right mental process and be more resilient to issues too!

Design a great agenda

Workshops are a great format for solving problems. With the right approach, you can focus a group and help them find the solutions to their own problems. But designing a process can be time-consuming and finding the right activities can be difficult.

Check out our workshop planning guide to level-up your agenda design and start running more effective workshops. Need inspiration? Check out templates designed by expert facilitators to help you kickstart your process!

In this section, we’ll look at in-depth problem-solving methods that provide a complete end-to-end process for developing effective solutions. These will help guide your team from the discovery and definition of a problem through to delivering the right solution.

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing method or problem-solving model, these processes are a great place to start. They’ll ask your team to challenge preconceived ideas and adopt a mindset for solving problems more effectively.

  • Six Thinking Hats
  • Lightning Decision Jam
  • Problem Definition Process
  • Discovery & Action Dialogue
Design Sprint 2.0
  • Open Space Technology

1. Six Thinking Hats

Individual approaches to solving a problem can be very different based on what team or role an individual holds. It can be easy for existing biases or perspectives to find their way into the mix, or for internal politics to direct a conversation.

Six Thinking Hats is a classic method for identifying the problems that need to be solved and enables your team to consider them from different angles, whether that is by focusing on facts and data, creative solutions, or by considering why a particular solution might not work.

Like all problem-solving frameworks, Six Thinking Hats is effective at helping teams remove roadblocks from a conversation or discussion and come to terms with all the aspects necessary to solve complex problems.

2. Lightning Decision Jam

Featured courtesy of Jonathan Courtney of AJ&Smart Berlin, Lightning Decision Jam is one of those strategies that should be in every facilitation toolbox. Exploring problems and finding solutions is often creative in nature, though as with any creative process, there is the potential to lose focus and get lost.

Unstructured discussions might get you there in the end, but it’s much more effective to use a method that creates a clear process and team focus.

In Lightning Decision Jam, participants are invited to begin by writing challenges, concerns, or mistakes on post-its without discussing them before then being invited by the moderator to present them to the group.

From there, the team vote on which problems to solve and are guided through steps that will allow them to reframe those problems, create solutions and then decide what to execute on. 

By deciding the problems that need to be solved as a team before moving on, this group process is great for ensuring the whole team is aligned and can take ownership over the next stages. 

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow

3. Problem Definition Process

While problems can be complex, the problem-solving methods you use to identify and solve those problems can often be simple in design. 

By taking the time to truly identify and define a problem before asking the group to reframe the challenge as an opportunity, this method is a great way to enable change.

Begin by identifying a focus question and exploring the ways in which it manifests before splitting into five teams who will each consider the problem using a different method: escape, reversal, exaggeration, distortion or wishful. Teams develop a problem objective and create ideas in line with their method before then feeding them back to the group.

This method is great for enabling in-depth discussions while also creating space for finding creative solutions too!

Problem Definition   #problem solving   #idea generation   #creativity   #online   #remote-friendly   A problem solving technique to define a problem, challenge or opportunity and to generate ideas.

4. The 5 Whys 

Sometimes, a group needs to go further with their strategies and analyze the root cause at the heart of organizational issues. An RCA or root cause analysis is the process of identifying what is at the heart of business problems or recurring challenges. 

The 5 Whys is a simple and effective method of helping a group go find the root cause of any problem or challenge and conduct analysis that will deliver results. 

By beginning with the creation of a problem statement and going through five stages to refine it, The 5 Whys provides everything you need to truly discover the cause of an issue.

The 5 Whys   #hyperisland   #innovation   This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. As the title suggests, the group defines a problems, then asks the question “why” five times, often using the resulting explanation as a starting point for creative problem solving.

5. World Cafe

World Cafe is a simple but powerful facilitation technique to help bigger groups to focus their energy and attention on solving complex problems.

World Cafe enables this approach by creating a relaxed atmosphere where participants are able to self-organize and explore topics relevant and important to them which are themed around a central problem-solving purpose. Create the right atmosphere by modeling your space after a cafe and after guiding the group through the method, let them take the lead!

Making problem-solving a part of your organization’s culture in the long term can be a difficult undertaking. More approachable formats like World Cafe can be especially effective in bringing people unfamiliar with workshops into the fold. 

World Cafe   #hyperisland   #innovation   #issue analysis   World Café is a simple yet powerful method, originated by Juanita Brown, for enabling meaningful conversations driven completely by participants and the topics that are relevant and important to them. Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines. Participants then self-organize and explore a set of relevant topics or questions for conversation.

6. Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD)

One of the best approaches is to create a safe space for a group to share and discover practices and behaviors that can help them find their own solutions.

With DAD, you can help a group choose which problems they wish to solve and which approaches they will take to do so. It’s great at helping remove resistance to change and can help get buy-in at every level too!

This process of enabling frontline ownership is great in ensuring follow-through and is one of the methods you will want in your toolbox as a facilitator.

Discovery & Action Dialogue (DAD)   #idea generation   #liberating structures   #action   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   DADs make it easy for a group or community to discover practices and behaviors that enable some individuals (without access to special resources and facing the same constraints) to find better solutions than their peers to common problems. These are called positive deviant (PD) behaviors and practices. DADs make it possible for people in the group, unit, or community to discover by themselves these PD practices. DADs also create favorable conditions for stimulating participants’ creativity in spaces where they can feel safe to invent new and more effective practices. Resistance to change evaporates as participants are unleashed to choose freely which practices they will adopt or try and which problems they will tackle. DADs make it possible to achieve frontline ownership of solutions.

7. Design Sprint 2.0

Want to see how a team can solve big problems and move forward with prototyping and testing solutions in a few days? The Design Sprint 2.0 template from Jake Knapp, author of Sprint, is a complete agenda for a with proven results.

Developing the right agenda can involve difficult but necessary planning. Ensuring all the correct steps are followed can also be stressful or time-consuming depending on your level of experience.

Use this complete 4-day workshop template if you are finding there is no obvious solution to your challenge and want to focus your team around a specific problem that might require a shortcut to launching a minimum viable product or waiting for the organization-wide implementation of a solution.

8. Open space technology

Open space technology- developed by Harrison Owen – creates a space where large groups are invited to take ownership of their problem solving and lead individual sessions. Open space technology is a great format when you have a great deal of expertise and insight in the room and want to allow for different takes and approaches on a particular theme or problem you need to be solved.

Start by bringing your participants together to align around a central theme and focus their efforts. Explain the ground rules to help guide the problem-solving process and then invite members to identify any issue connecting to the central theme that they are interested in and are prepared to take responsibility for.

Once participants have decided on their approach to the core theme, they write their issue on a piece of paper, announce it to the group, pick a session time and place, and post the paper on the wall. As the wall fills up with sessions, the group is then invited to join the sessions that interest them the most and which they can contribute to, then you’re ready to begin!

Everyone joins the problem-solving group they’ve signed up to, record the discussion and if appropriate, findings can then be shared with the rest of the group afterward.

Open Space Technology   #action plan   #idea generation   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #large group   #online   #remote-friendly   Open Space is a methodology for large groups to create their agenda discerning important topics for discussion, suitable for conferences, community gatherings and whole system facilitation

Techniques to identify and analyze problems

Using a problem-solving method to help a team identify and analyze a problem can be a quick and effective addition to any workshop or meeting.

While further actions are always necessary, you can generate momentum and alignment easily, and these activities are a great place to get started.

We’ve put together this list of techniques to help you and your team with problem identification, analysis, and discussion that sets the foundation for developing effective solutions.

Let’s take a look!

  • The Creativity Dice
  • Fishbone Analysis
  • Problem Tree
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Agreement-Certainty Matrix
  • The Journalistic Six
  • LEGO Challenge
  • What, So What, Now What?
  • Journalists

Individual and group perspectives are incredibly important, but what happens if people are set in their minds and need a change of perspective in order to approach a problem more effectively?

Flip It is a method we love because it is both simple to understand and run, and allows groups to understand how their perspectives and biases are formed. 

Participants in Flip It are first invited to consider concerns, issues, or problems from a perspective of fear and write them on a flip chart. Then, the group is asked to consider those same issues from a perspective of hope and flip their understanding.  

No problem and solution is free from existing bias and by changing perspectives with Flip It, you can then develop a problem solving model quickly and effectively.

Flip It!   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   Often, a change in a problem or situation comes simply from a change in our perspectives. Flip It! is a quick game designed to show players that perspectives are made, not born.

10. The Creativity Dice

One of the most useful problem solving skills you can teach your team is of approaching challenges with creativity, flexibility, and openness. Games like The Creativity Dice allow teams to overcome the potential hurdle of too much linear thinking and approach the process with a sense of fun and speed. 

In The Creativity Dice, participants are organized around a topic and roll a dice to determine what they will work on for a period of 3 minutes at a time. They might roll a 3 and work on investigating factual information on the chosen topic. They might roll a 1 and work on identifying the specific goals, standards, or criteria for the session.

Encouraging rapid work and iteration while asking participants to be flexible are great skills to cultivate. Having a stage for idea incubation in this game is also important. Moments of pause can help ensure the ideas that are put forward are the most suitable. 

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

11. Fishbone Analysis

Organizational or team challenges are rarely simple, and it’s important to remember that one problem can be an indication of something that goes deeper and may require further consideration to be solved.

Fishbone Analysis helps groups to dig deeper and understand the origins of a problem. It’s a great example of a root cause analysis method that is simple for everyone on a team to get their head around. 

Participants in this activity are asked to annotate a diagram of a fish, first adding the problem or issue to be worked on at the head of a fish before then brainstorming the root causes of the problem and adding them as bones on the fish. 

Using abstractions such as a diagram of a fish can really help a team break out of their regular thinking and develop a creative approach.

Fishbone Analysis   #problem solving   ##root cause analysis   #decision making   #online facilitation   A process to help identify and understand the origins of problems, issues or observations.

12. Problem Tree 

Encouraging visual thinking can be an essential part of many strategies. By simply reframing and clarifying problems, a group can move towards developing a problem solving model that works for them. 

In Problem Tree, groups are asked to first brainstorm a list of problems – these can be design problems, team problems or larger business problems – and then organize them into a hierarchy. The hierarchy could be from most important to least important or abstract to practical, though the key thing with problem solving games that involve this aspect is that your group has some way of managing and sorting all the issues that are raised.

Once you have a list of problems that need to be solved and have organized them accordingly, you’re then well-positioned for the next problem solving steps.

Problem tree   #define intentions   #create   #design   #issue analysis   A problem tree is a tool to clarify the hierarchy of problems addressed by the team within a design project; it represents high level problems or related sublevel problems.

13. SWOT Analysis

Chances are you’ve heard of the SWOT Analysis before. This problem-solving method focuses on identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is a tried and tested method for both individuals and teams.

Start by creating a desired end state or outcome and bare this in mind – any process solving model is made more effective by knowing what you are moving towards. Create a quadrant made up of the four categories of a SWOT analysis and ask participants to generate ideas based on each of those quadrants.

Once you have those ideas assembled in their quadrants, cluster them together based on their affinity with other ideas. These clusters are then used to facilitate group conversations and move things forward. 

SWOT analysis   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   #meeting facilitation   The SWOT Analysis is a long-standing technique of looking at what we have, with respect to the desired end state, as well as what we could improve on. It gives us an opportunity to gauge approaching opportunities and dangers, and assess the seriousness of the conditions that affect our future. When we understand those conditions, we can influence what comes next.

14. Agreement-Certainty Matrix

Not every problem-solving approach is right for every challenge, and deciding on the right method for the challenge at hand is a key part of being an effective team.

The Agreement Certainty matrix helps teams align on the nature of the challenges facing them. By sorting problems from simple to chaotic, your team can understand what methods are suitable for each problem and what they can do to ensure effective results. 

If you are already using Liberating Structures techniques as part of your problem-solving strategy, the Agreement-Certainty Matrix can be an invaluable addition to your process. We’ve found it particularly if you are having issues with recurring problems in your organization and want to go deeper in understanding the root cause. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Organizing and charting a team’s progress can be important in ensuring its success. SQUID (Sequential Question and Insight Diagram) is a great model that allows a team to effectively switch between giving questions and answers and develop the skills they need to stay on track throughout the process. 

Begin with two different colored sticky notes – one for questions and one for answers – and with your central topic (the head of the squid) on the board. Ask the group to first come up with a series of questions connected to their best guess of how to approach the topic. Ask the group to come up with answers to those questions, fix them to the board and connect them with a line. After some discussion, go back to question mode by responding to the generated answers or other points on the board.

It’s rewarding to see a diagram grow throughout the exercise, and a completed SQUID can provide a visual resource for future effort and as an example for other teams.

SQUID   #gamestorming   #project planning   #issue analysis   #problem solving   When exploring an information space, it’s important for a group to know where they are at any given time. By using SQUID, a group charts out the territory as they go and can navigate accordingly. SQUID stands for Sequential Question and Insight Diagram.

16. Speed Boat

To continue with our nautical theme, Speed Boat is a short and sweet activity that can help a team quickly identify what employees, clients or service users might have a problem with and analyze what might be standing in the way of achieving a solution.

Methods that allow for a group to make observations, have insights and obtain those eureka moments quickly are invaluable when trying to solve complex problems.

In Speed Boat, the approach is to first consider what anchors and challenges might be holding an organization (or boat) back. Bonus points if you are able to identify any sharks in the water and develop ideas that can also deal with competitors!   

Speed Boat   #gamestorming   #problem solving   #action   Speedboat is a short and sweet way to identify what your employees or clients don’t like about your product/service or what’s standing in the way of a desired goal.

17. The Journalistic Six

Some of the most effective ways of solving problems is by encouraging teams to be more inclusive and diverse in their thinking.

Based on the six key questions journalism students are taught to answer in articles and news stories, The Journalistic Six helps create teams to see the whole picture. By using who, what, when, where, why, and how to facilitate the conversation and encourage creative thinking, your team can make sure that the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the are covered exhaustively and thoughtfully. Reporter’s notebook and dictaphone optional.

The Journalistic Six – Who What When Where Why How   #idea generation   #issue analysis   #problem solving   #online   #creative thinking   #remote-friendly   A questioning method for generating, explaining, investigating ideas.

18. LEGO Challenge

Now for an activity that is a little out of the (toy) box. LEGO Serious Play is a facilitation methodology that can be used to improve creative thinking and problem-solving skills. 

The LEGO Challenge includes giving each member of the team an assignment that is hidden from the rest of the group while they create a structure without speaking.

What the LEGO challenge brings to the table is a fun working example of working with stakeholders who might not be on the same page to solve problems. Also, it’s LEGO! Who doesn’t love LEGO! 

LEGO Challenge   #hyperisland   #team   A team-building activity in which groups must work together to build a structure out of LEGO, but each individual has a secret “assignment” which makes the collaborative process more challenging. It emphasizes group communication, leadership dynamics, conflict, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy.

19. What, So What, Now What?

If not carefully managed, the problem identification and problem analysis stages of the problem-solving process can actually create more problems and misunderstandings.

The What, So What, Now What? problem-solving activity is designed to help collect insights and move forward while also eliminating the possibility of disagreement when it comes to identifying, clarifying, and analyzing organizational or work problems. 

Facilitation is all about bringing groups together so that might work on a shared goal and the best problem-solving strategies ensure that teams are aligned in purpose, if not initially in opinion or insight.

Throughout the three steps of this game, you give everyone on a team to reflect on a problem by asking what happened, why it is important, and what actions should then be taken. 

This can be a great activity for bringing our individual perceptions about a problem or challenge and contextualizing it in a larger group setting. This is one of the most important problem-solving skills you can bring to your organization.

W³ – What, So What, Now What?   #issue analysis   #innovation   #liberating structures   You can help groups reflect on a shared experience in a way that builds understanding and spurs coordinated action while avoiding unproductive conflict. It is possible for every voice to be heard while simultaneously sifting for insights and shaping new direction. Progressing in stages makes this practical—from collecting facts about What Happened to making sense of these facts with So What and finally to what actions logically follow with Now What . The shared progression eliminates most of the misunderstandings that otherwise fuel disagreements about what to do. Voila!

20. Journalists  

Problem analysis can be one of the most important and decisive stages of all problem-solving tools. Sometimes, a team can become bogged down in the details and are unable to move forward.

Journalists is an activity that can avoid a group from getting stuck in the problem identification or problem analysis stages of the process.

In Journalists, the group is invited to draft the front page of a fictional newspaper and figure out what stories deserve to be on the cover and what headlines those stories will have. By reframing how your problems and challenges are approached, you can help a team move productively through the process and be better prepared for the steps to follow.

Journalists   #vision   #big picture   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   This is an exercise to use when the group gets stuck in details and struggles to see the big picture. Also good for defining a vision.

Problem-solving techniques for developing solutions 

The success of any problem-solving process can be measured by the solutions it produces. After you’ve defined the issue, explored existing ideas, and ideated, it’s time to narrow down to the correct solution.

Use these problem-solving techniques when you want to help your team find consensus, compare possible solutions, and move towards taking action on a particular problem.

  • Improved Solutions
  • Four-Step Sketch
  • 15% Solutions
  • How-Now-Wow matrix
  • Impact Effort Matrix

21. Mindspin  

Brainstorming is part of the bread and butter of the problem-solving process and all problem-solving strategies benefit from getting ideas out and challenging a team to generate solutions quickly. 

With Mindspin, participants are encouraged not only to generate ideas but to do so under time constraints and by slamming down cards and passing them on. By doing multiple rounds, your team can begin with a free generation of possible solutions before moving on to developing those solutions and encouraging further ideation. 

This is one of our favorite problem-solving activities and can be great for keeping the energy up throughout the workshop. Remember the importance of helping people become engaged in the process – energizing problem-solving techniques like Mindspin can help ensure your team stays engaged and happy, even when the problems they’re coming together to solve are complex. 

MindSpin   #teampedia   #idea generation   #problem solving   #action   A fast and loud method to enhance brainstorming within a team. Since this activity has more than round ideas that are repetitive can be ruled out leaving more creative and innovative answers to the challenge.

22. Improved Solutions

After a team has successfully identified a problem and come up with a few solutions, it can be tempting to call the work of the problem-solving process complete. That said, the first solution is not necessarily the best, and by including a further review and reflection activity into your problem-solving model, you can ensure your group reaches the best possible result. 

One of a number of problem-solving games from Thiagi Group, Improved Solutions helps you go the extra mile and develop suggested solutions with close consideration and peer review. By supporting the discussion of several problems at once and by shifting team roles throughout, this problem-solving technique is a dynamic way of finding the best solution. 

Improved Solutions   #creativity   #thiagi   #problem solving   #action   #team   You can improve any solution by objectively reviewing its strengths and weaknesses and making suitable adjustments. In this creativity framegame, you improve the solutions to several problems. To maintain objective detachment, you deal with a different problem during each of six rounds and assume different roles (problem owner, consultant, basher, booster, enhancer, and evaluator) during each round. At the conclusion of the activity, each player ends up with two solutions to her problem.

23. Four Step Sketch

Creative thinking and visual ideation does not need to be confined to the opening stages of your problem-solving strategies. Exercises that include sketching and prototyping on paper can be effective at the solution finding and development stage of the process, and can be great for keeping a team engaged. 

By going from simple notes to a crazy 8s round that involves rapidly sketching 8 variations on their ideas before then producing a final solution sketch, the group is able to iterate quickly and visually. Problem-solving techniques like Four-Step Sketch are great if you have a group of different thinkers and want to change things up from a more textual or discussion-based approach.

Four-Step Sketch   #design sprint   #innovation   #idea generation   #remote-friendly   The four-step sketch is an exercise that helps people to create well-formed concepts through a structured process that includes: Review key information Start design work on paper,  Consider multiple variations , Create a detailed solution . This exercise is preceded by a set of other activities allowing the group to clarify the challenge they want to solve. See how the Four Step Sketch exercise fits into a Design Sprint

24. 15% Solutions

Some problems are simpler than others and with the right problem-solving activities, you can empower people to take immediate actions that can help create organizational change. 

Part of the liberating structures toolkit, 15% solutions is a problem-solving technique that focuses on finding and implementing solutions quickly. A process of iterating and making small changes quickly can help generate momentum and an appetite for solving complex problems.

Problem-solving strategies can live and die on whether people are onboard. Getting some quick wins is a great way of getting people behind the process.   

It can be extremely empowering for a team to realize that problem-solving techniques can be deployed quickly and easily and delineate between things they can positively impact and those things they cannot change. 

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

25. How-Now-Wow Matrix

The problem-solving process is often creative, as complex problems usually require a change of thinking and creative response in order to find the best solutions. While it’s common for the first stages to encourage creative thinking, groups can often gravitate to familiar solutions when it comes to the end of the process. 

When selecting solutions, you don’t want to lose your creative energy! The How-Now-Wow Matrix from Gamestorming is a great problem-solving activity that enables a group to stay creative and think out of the box when it comes to selecting the right solution for a given problem.

Problem-solving techniques that encourage creative thinking and the ideation and selection of new solutions can be the most effective in organisational change. Give the How-Now-Wow Matrix a go, and not just for how pleasant it is to say out loud. 

How-Now-Wow Matrix   #gamestorming   #idea generation   #remote-friendly   When people want to develop new ideas, they most often think out of the box in the brainstorming or divergent phase. However, when it comes to convergence, people often end up picking ideas that are most familiar to them. This is called a ‘creative paradox’ or a ‘creadox’. The How-Now-Wow matrix is an idea selection tool that breaks the creadox by forcing people to weigh each idea on 2 parameters.

26. Impact and Effort Matrix

All problem-solving techniques hope to not only find solutions to a given problem or challenge but to find the best solution. When it comes to finding a solution, groups are invited to put on their decision-making hats and really think about how a proposed idea would work in practice. 

The Impact and Effort Matrix is one of the problem-solving techniques that fall into this camp, empowering participants to first generate ideas and then categorize them into a 2×2 matrix based on impact and effort.

Activities that invite critical thinking while remaining simple are invaluable. Use the Impact and Effort Matrix to move from ideation and towards evaluating potential solutions before then committing to them. 

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

27. Dotmocracy

If you’ve followed each of the problem-solving steps with your group successfully, you should move towards the end of your process with heaps of possible solutions developed with a specific problem in mind. But how do you help a group go from ideation to putting a solution into action? 

Dotmocracy – or Dot Voting -is a tried and tested method of helping a team in the problem-solving process make decisions and put actions in place with a degree of oversight and consensus. 

One of the problem-solving techniques that should be in every facilitator’s toolbox, Dot Voting is fast and effective and can help identify the most popular and best solutions and help bring a group to a decision effectively. 

Dotmocracy   #action   #decision making   #group prioritization   #hyperisland   #remote-friendly   Dotmocracy is a simple method for group prioritization or decision-making. It is not an activity on its own, but a method to use in processes where prioritization or decision-making is the aim. The method supports a group to quickly see which options are most popular or relevant. The options or ideas are written on post-its and stuck up on a wall for the whole group to see. Each person votes for the options they think are the strongest, and that information is used to inform a decision.

All facilitators know that warm-ups and icebreakers are useful for any workshop or group process. Problem-solving workshops are no different.

Use these problem-solving techniques to warm up a group and prepare them for the rest of the process. Activating your group by tapping into some of the top problem-solving skills can be one of the best ways to see great outcomes from your session.

  • Check-in/Check-out
  • Doodling Together
  • Show and Tell
  • Constellations
  • Draw a Tree

28. Check-in / Check-out

Solid processes are planned from beginning to end, and the best facilitators know that setting the tone and establishing a safe, open environment can be integral to a successful problem-solving process.

Check-in / Check-out is a great way to begin and/or bookend a problem-solving workshop. Checking in to a session emphasizes that everyone will be seen, heard, and expected to contribute. 

If you are running a series of meetings, setting a consistent pattern of checking in and checking out can really help your team get into a groove. We recommend this opening-closing activity for small to medium-sized groups though it can work with large groups if they’re disciplined!

Check-in / Check-out   #team   #opening   #closing   #hyperisland   #remote-friendly   Either checking-in or checking-out is a simple way for a team to open or close a process, symbolically and in a collaborative way. Checking-in/out invites each member in a group to be present, seen and heard, and to express a reflection or a feeling. Checking-in emphasizes presence, focus and group commitment; checking-out emphasizes reflection and symbolic closure.

29. Doodling Together  

Thinking creatively and not being afraid to make suggestions are important problem-solving skills for any group or team, and warming up by encouraging these behaviors is a great way to start. 

Doodling Together is one of our favorite creative ice breaker games – it’s quick, effective, and fun and can make all following problem-solving steps easier by encouraging a group to collaborate visually. By passing cards and adding additional items as they go, the workshop group gets into a groove of co-creation and idea development that is crucial to finding solutions to problems. 

Doodling Together   #collaboration   #creativity   #teamwork   #fun   #team   #visual methods   #energiser   #icebreaker   #remote-friendly   Create wild, weird and often funny postcards together & establish a group’s creative confidence.

30. Show and Tell

You might remember some version of Show and Tell from being a kid in school and it’s a great problem-solving activity to kick off a session.

Asking participants to prepare a little something before a workshop by bringing an object for show and tell can help them warm up before the session has even begun! Games that include a physical object can also help encourage early engagement before moving onto more big-picture thinking.

By asking your participants to tell stories about why they chose to bring a particular item to the group, you can help teams see things from new perspectives and see both differences and similarities in the way they approach a topic. Great groundwork for approaching a problem-solving process as a team! 

Show and Tell   #gamestorming   #action   #opening   #meeting facilitation   Show and Tell taps into the power of metaphors to reveal players’ underlying assumptions and associations around a topic The aim of the game is to get a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives on anything—a new project, an organizational restructuring, a shift in the company’s vision or team dynamic.

31. Constellations

Who doesn’t love stars? Constellations is a great warm-up activity for any workshop as it gets people up off their feet, energized, and ready to engage in new ways with established topics. It’s also great for showing existing beliefs, biases, and patterns that can come into play as part of your session.

Using warm-up games that help build trust and connection while also allowing for non-verbal responses can be great for easing people into the problem-solving process and encouraging engagement from everyone in the group. Constellations is great in large spaces that allow for movement and is definitely a practical exercise to allow the group to see patterns that are otherwise invisible. 

Constellations   #trust   #connection   #opening   #coaching   #patterns   #system   Individuals express their response to a statement or idea by standing closer or further from a central object. Used with teams to reveal system, hidden patterns, perspectives.

32. Draw a Tree

Problem-solving games that help raise group awareness through a central, unifying metaphor can be effective ways to warm-up a group in any problem-solving model.

Draw a Tree is a simple warm-up activity you can use in any group and which can provide a quick jolt of energy. Start by asking your participants to draw a tree in just 45 seconds – they can choose whether it will be abstract or realistic. 

Once the timer is up, ask the group how many people included the roots of the tree and use this as a means to discuss how we can ignore important parts of any system simply because they are not visible.

All problem-solving strategies are made more effective by thinking of problems critically and by exposing things that may not normally come to light. Warm-up games like Draw a Tree are great in that they quickly demonstrate some key problem-solving skills in an accessible and effective way.

Draw a Tree   #thiagi   #opening   #perspectives   #remote-friendly   With this game you can raise awarness about being more mindful, and aware of the environment we live in.

Each step of the problem-solving workshop benefits from an intelligent deployment of activities, games, and techniques. Bringing your session to an effective close helps ensure that solutions are followed through on and that you also celebrate what has been achieved.

Here are some problem-solving activities you can use to effectively close a workshop or meeting and ensure the great work you’ve done can continue afterward.

  • One Breath Feedback
  • Who What When Matrix
  • Response Cards

How do I conclude a problem-solving process?

All good things must come to an end. With the bulk of the work done, it can be tempting to conclude your workshop swiftly and without a moment to debrief and align. This can be problematic in that it doesn’t allow your team to fully process the results or reflect on the process.

At the end of an effective session, your team will have gone through a process that, while productive, can be exhausting. It’s important to give your group a moment to take a breath, ensure that they are clear on future actions, and provide short feedback before leaving the space. 

The primary purpose of any problem-solving method is to generate solutions and then implement them. Be sure to take the opportunity to ensure everyone is aligned and ready to effectively implement the solutions you produced in the workshop.

Remember that every process can be improved and by giving a short moment to collect feedback in the session, you can further refine your problem-solving methods and see further success in the future too.

33. One Breath Feedback

Maintaining attention and focus during the closing stages of a problem-solving workshop can be tricky and so being concise when giving feedback can be important. It’s easy to incur “death by feedback” should some team members go on for too long sharing their perspectives in a quick feedback round. 

One Breath Feedback is a great closing activity for workshops. You give everyone an opportunity to provide feedback on what they’ve done but only in the space of a single breath. This keeps feedback short and to the point and means that everyone is encouraged to provide the most important piece of feedback to them. 

One breath feedback   #closing   #feedback   #action   This is a feedback round in just one breath that excels in maintaining attention: each participants is able to speak during just one breath … for most people that’s around 20 to 25 seconds … unless of course you’ve been a deep sea diver in which case you’ll be able to do it for longer.

34. Who What When Matrix 

Matrices feature as part of many effective problem-solving strategies and with good reason. They are easily recognizable, simple to use, and generate results.

The Who What When Matrix is a great tool to use when closing your problem-solving session by attributing a who, what and when to the actions and solutions you have decided upon. The resulting matrix is a simple, easy-to-follow way of ensuring your team can move forward. 

Great solutions can’t be enacted without action and ownership. Your problem-solving process should include a stage for allocating tasks to individuals or teams and creating a realistic timeframe for those solutions to be implemented or checked out. Use this method to keep the solution implementation process clear and simple for all involved. 

Who/What/When Matrix   #gamestorming   #action   #project planning   With Who/What/When matrix, you can connect people with clear actions they have defined and have committed to.

35. Response cards

Group discussion can comprise the bulk of most problem-solving activities and by the end of the process, you might find that your team is talked out! 

Providing a means for your team to give feedback with short written notes can ensure everyone is head and can contribute without the need to stand up and talk. Depending on the needs of the group, giving an alternative can help ensure everyone can contribute to your problem-solving model in the way that makes the most sense for them.

Response Cards is a great way to close a workshop if you are looking for a gentle warm-down and want to get some swift discussion around some of the feedback that is raised. 

Response Cards   #debriefing   #closing   #structured sharing   #questions and answers   #thiagi   #action   It can be hard to involve everyone during a closing of a session. Some might stay in the background or get unheard because of louder participants. However, with the use of Response Cards, everyone will be involved in providing feedback or clarify questions at the end of a session.

Save time and effort discovering the right solutions

A structured problem solving process is a surefire way of solving tough problems, discovering creative solutions and driving organizational change. But how can you design for successful outcomes?

With SessionLab, it’s easy to design engaging workshops that deliver results. Drag, drop and reorder blocks  to build your agenda. When you make changes or update your agenda, your session  timing   adjusts automatically , saving you time on manual adjustments.

Collaborating with stakeholders or clients? Share your agenda with a single click and collaborate in real-time. No more sending documents back and forth over email.

Explore  how to use SessionLab  to design effective problem solving workshops or  watch this five minute video  to see the planner in action!

a practical problem solving

Over to you

The problem-solving process can often be as complicated and multifaceted as the problems they are set-up to solve. With the right problem-solving techniques and a mix of creative exercises designed to guide discussion and generate purposeful ideas, we hope we’ve given you the tools to find the best solutions as simply and easily as possible.

Is there a problem-solving technique that you are missing here? Do you have a favorite activity or method you use when facilitating? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you! 

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thank you very much for these excellent techniques

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Certainly wonderful article, very detailed. Shared!

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Your list of techniques for problem solving can be helpfully extended by adding TRIZ to the list of techniques. TRIZ has 40 problem solving techniques derived from methods inventros and patent holders used to get new patents. About 10-12 are general approaches. many organization sponsor classes in TRIZ that are used to solve business problems or general organiztational problems. You can take a look at TRIZ and dwonload a free internet booklet to see if you feel it shound be included per your selection process.

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Home > Learn Lean > Learn A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving

Learn A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving

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What is A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving?

A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving (PPS) is a structured and effective problem-solving process used by individuals and teams to solve challenging, medium term, business and operational problems, originally pioneered by Toyota. Learn about the 8-step process, including clarifying the problem, containment, analysing & breaking it down, target setting, analysing the root cause(s), developing & planning countermeasures, confirming the results and standardising & sharing. Improve your problem-solving skills, preventing the reoccurrence of issues whilst improving results by applying the A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving (PPS) process.

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A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving – Skill Level 1: Knowledge

This is a self-paced 2 hour course that is hosted on our online Learning Platform . By completeting this course you will gain the basic Purpose, Process and People knowledge about A3 Practical Problem Solving.

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A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving – Skill Level 2: Understanding

– 12 Hours Online, On-Demand, Self Paced Learning

– Purpose, Process, People & Method of Practical Problem Solving

– Teach Poster, 31 Teach Videos, A3 Case Study and Evaluation Method

– Learning Confirmation & Certificate of Completion

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A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving – Skill Level 3: Capable

This is an on-the-job coached course where a Senior Lean Coach will help you to become Capable in A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving. Available online or face-to-face.

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A3 8 Step Practical Problem Solving – Skill Level 4: Teach & Coach Others

Want to access all our online courses and webinars all in one place? Starting at just £99.99+VAT/year, our Learning Platform Subscription provides all current and future materials developed by the Lean Enterprise Academy. Click on the subscription logo to find out more information.

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Supporting Materials

A3 Problem Solving - Capability Development Workshop 2024

A3 Problem Solving: On-Demand Webinar

This is a video recording of our A3 Problem Solving webinar. Included is access to a video of the webinar, a copy of the presentation slides, a transcript of the webinar, our Lean A3 Problem Solving Teach Poster presented during the webinar.

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Best Practices

Top 5 ways to practice problem-solving, practice problem-solving in your daily life. use our handy guide to improve this crucial workplace skill and boost your professional performance..

a practical problem solving

Problem-solving is something we do every day. From deciding what to make for dinner when we haven’t grocery shopped to figuring out how to increase our sales by 30% by the end of the month, we constantly run into obstacles in our personal and professional lives. 

No one is a master problem-solver right away — it takes patience and time to develop this skill. Practicing problem-solving in low-stakes situations prepares us for when it really counts: a high-pressure setting. Luckily, we know the best ways to practice problem-solving, how to develop your problem-solving skills, and strategies for solving problems quickly and practically.

What is problem-solving?

We can break down the problem-solving process into three main parts: identifying a problem, brainstorming solutions, and taking action. Like any other skill, this process becomes easier with practice. Learning actionable problem-solving techniques can also help us to respond to difficult situations quickly and effectively.

Problem-solving skills are a great help in the workplace — especially for business owners responsible for running all aspects of a business. These skills empower us in both our professional and personal lives and give us the independence to tackle roadblocks on our own — a great asset for solopreneurs.

How to develop problem-solving skills

Practicing problem-solving doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are five exciting ways to flex your creativity and problem-solving muscles:

1. Puzzles and brainteasers

These are fantastic ways to exercise our brains in a controlled and relaxed environment. When we have ample time and no deadlines to brainstorm potential solutions, we’re more likely to try new methods, experiment, and find the problem-solving strategy that works best for us.

Practicing this skill can be as simple as picking up a book of sudoku or sitting down for a crossword every week. Choose activities that you enjoy and make you excited to learn.

Board games and video games provide both entertainment and complex problems to tackle. While immersed in the world or storyline of the game, we’re often required to overcome challenges by discovering a step-by-step journey to the solutions.

Strategy games in particular can strengthen our ability to plan and adapt to sudden changes. Because these games are just for fun, we can break down the problem with patience and take as many attempts as we need.

Starting a new hobby, like a craft or sport, encourages us to embrace a beginner’s mind and find creative solutions while we learn. Whether it’s knitting or basketball, each new journey is going to have hiccups we must persevere through and overcome. 

4. Case studies

If games and puzzles seem a little too abstract to help with professional problem-solving, reading case studies is a powerful alternative. Many case studies published by companies and authors break down the minutiae of problem-solving in real-world settings, including the stress and deadlines of an office environment .

By working through these cases from the comfort of our homes, we learn to consider problems from new perspectives and build the know-how to replicate these strategies — even under stress.


Mastering problem-solving 

Once we feel comfortable practicing our problem-solving, it’s time to put our skills into action to tackle real-world problems. Here are four ways you can work more quickly and efficiently in high-pressure situations:

  • Make sure you understand the problem and can explain it to others. The first step to solving a problem is knowing it inside and out, and an excellent way to test this is by explaining it to peers or team members. 
  • Lose the fear of making mistakes. The best solution is the one that works most quickly and effectively for you. There’s no “wrong” answer, and there are likely many viable strategies you could choose.
  • Use visual techniques. Good problem solvers understand the methods that work best for them. If staring at words on a page isn’t working, try visualizing the problem through diagrams, mind maps, and other visual tools.
  • Reframe the problem as a question you can answer. Thinking of problems as questions allows you to focus on their answers. For example, turn “My clients are upset we don’t communicate enough” into “How can I improve communication with my clients?”

Problem-solving strategies

If you’re looking to really level up your problem-solving, we have three strategies you can implement.

1. IDEAL problem solving

This 5-step process is easy to remember because it’s based on the acronym IDEAL:

  • Identify the problem at hand. Ensure you understand the scope of the problem, the facts you already have, and what you need to find out.
  • Define an outcome. What does a successful solution look like? Outline an objective that’s agreed upon by you and any other parties involved. 
  • Explore strategies. This step is where diagrams, mind maps, and brainstorming can come into play. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched an idea seems — write it down anyway.
  • Anticipate outcomes. Examine your best strategies and make your best guess at what the outcome of each will look like. Pick a solution from your list based on which you think will be most successful. You can never know for certain what will happen, but you must take a step forward to move the process along. If you fail, turn to your next best strategy.
  • Look back and learn. Reflection is crucial to becoming better at problem-solving. After you make a decision and act on it, reflect on the journey and the outcome. Did you achieve what you wanted to? Would another strategy have been more efficient?

2. Practical problem-solving

This 8-step method centers around solving problems in a team setting, though it can be adapted to individual use:

  • Clarify the problem . Ensure all your team members are on the same page by discussing the problem and landing on a definition.
  • Break down the problem. If a problem is complex, break it down into more manageable sections. This way, you can employ strategies for each facet of the problem rather than getting stuck on the big picture. You and your team are less likely to become discouraged if you can celebrate successes along the way.
  • Set a target. Agree on an end goal and deadline for solving the problem. This will keep everyone accountable to the same solution.
  • Analyze the source of the problem. Determine the crux of the problem by tracing back to its root cause. Try using a mind map and beginning at the root of issue and tracing backward.
  • Develop countermeasures to correct the problem. Brainstorm solutions with your peers and weigh what the most effective methods might be. Like the IDEAL strategy, this is the time to anticipate the outcomes of your solutions and choose the best step forward.
  • Act on the countermeasures. Once you’ve chosen your measures, it’s time to implement them. Delegate tasks amongst your team and offer each other support. 
  • Monitor your progress. Track your team’s progress with milestones or metrics so everyone’s on the same page about the problem’s status. 
  • Set a standard and share. How often should team members check in? Set clear expectations and ensure the team conducts regular follow-ups to keep everyone updated on the project's progress — and, of course, when the problem is solved. 

3. Lightning Decision Jam

This 9-step process focuses on speed and aims to efficiently generate a variety of solutions to a group of problems. The steps are quick and snappy:

  • Write down your problems. What issues are you looking to solve?
  • Present each problem to the team (if you’re not working alone). Outline a concise overview of each problem.
  • Vote on what problems are priorities (or rank them yourself). Number your problems based on urgency and importance.
  • Rewrite priority problems as challenges. Translate your top problems into concrete challenges you or your team must overcome. What are the causes and who do they affect?
  • Brainstorm solutions. Have a rapid-fire session and write everything down — there are no wrong answers.
  • Vote for the best solutions (or rank them yourself). What solutions from your brainstorming are the most practical, efficient, and promising?
  • Prioritize the most relevant solutions. Among the popular solutions, which are most relevant? Weigh effort versus impact and consider your individual or team strengths. 
  • Decide what to act on first. Tackle the easiest tasks with the highest impact first, then work your way to the most difficult actions that will be the least impactful.
  • Delegate actions and tasks (if you’re not working alone). You know what you have to do and how to get there, so assign work based on your team’s skillset. Who is the best fit for each task?

The best time to start is now

Unfortunately, there’s no recipe for solving every problem you come across. But practicing your problem-solving will unearth your strengths and weaknesses and teach you the necessary techniques to tackle whatever difficulties come your way head-on. So grab a puzzle, dust off a game, or turn your attention to that issue at work — it’s time to get problem-solving. 

Excellent communication is a crucial component of effective problem-solving. Try Practice’s all-in-one client management system today to streamline client conversations and give you back some time to focus on tackling client and business complications.

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How to Solve Problems

  • Laura Amico

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To bring the best ideas forward, teams must build psychological safety.

Teams today aren’t just asked to execute tasks: They’re called upon to solve problems. You’d think that many brains working together would mean better solutions, but the reality is that too often problem-solving teams fall victim to inefficiency, conflict, and cautious conclusions. The two charts below will help your team think about how to collaborate better and come up with the best solutions for the thorniest challenges.

  • Laura Amico is a former senior editor at Harvard Business Review.

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What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)

By Status.net Editorial Team on May 7, 2023 — 5 minutes to read

What Is Problem Solving?

Definition and importance.

Problem solving is the process of finding solutions to obstacles or challenges you encounter in your life or work. It is a crucial skill that allows you to tackle complex situations, adapt to changes, and overcome difficulties with ease. Mastering this ability will contribute to both your personal and professional growth, leading to more successful outcomes and better decision-making.

Problem-Solving Steps

The problem-solving process typically includes the following steps:

  • Identify the issue : Recognize the problem that needs to be solved.
  • Analyze the situation : Examine the issue in depth, gather all relevant information, and consider any limitations or constraints that may be present.
  • Generate potential solutions : Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to the issue, without immediately judging or evaluating them.
  • Evaluate options : Weigh the pros and cons of each potential solution, considering factors such as feasibility, effectiveness, and potential risks.
  • Select the best solution : Choose the option that best addresses the problem and aligns with your objectives.
  • Implement the solution : Put the selected solution into action and monitor the results to ensure it resolves the issue.
  • Review and learn : Reflect on the problem-solving process, identify any improvements or adjustments that can be made, and apply these learnings to future situations.

Defining the Problem

To start tackling a problem, first, identify and understand it. Analyzing the issue thoroughly helps to clarify its scope and nature. Ask questions to gather information and consider the problem from various angles. Some strategies to define the problem include:

  • Brainstorming with others
  • Asking the 5 Ws and 1 H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How)
  • Analyzing cause and effect
  • Creating a problem statement

Generating Solutions

Once the problem is clearly understood, brainstorm possible solutions. Think creatively and keep an open mind, as well as considering lessons from past experiences. Consider:

  • Creating a list of potential ideas to solve the problem
  • Grouping and categorizing similar solutions
  • Prioritizing potential solutions based on feasibility, cost, and resources required
  • Involving others to share diverse opinions and inputs

Evaluating and Selecting Solutions

Evaluate each potential solution, weighing its pros and cons. To facilitate decision-making, use techniques such as:

  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Decision-making matrices
  • Pros and cons lists
  • Risk assessments

After evaluating, choose the most suitable solution based on effectiveness, cost, and time constraints.

Implementing and Monitoring the Solution

Implement the chosen solution and monitor its progress. Key actions include:

  • Communicating the solution to relevant parties
  • Setting timelines and milestones
  • Assigning tasks and responsibilities
  • Monitoring the solution and making adjustments as necessary
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the solution after implementation

Utilize feedback from stakeholders and consider potential improvements. Remember that problem-solving is an ongoing process that can always be refined and enhanced.

Problem-Solving Techniques

During each step, you may find it helpful to utilize various problem-solving techniques, such as:

  • Brainstorming : A free-flowing, open-minded session where ideas are generated and listed without judgment, to encourage creativity and innovative thinking.
  • Root cause analysis : A method that explores the underlying causes of a problem to find the most effective solution rather than addressing superficial symptoms.
  • SWOT analysis : A tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to a problem or decision, providing a comprehensive view of the situation.
  • Mind mapping : A visual technique that uses diagrams to organize and connect ideas, helping to identify patterns, relationships, and possible solutions.


When facing a problem, start by conducting a brainstorming session. Gather your team and encourage an open discussion where everyone contributes ideas, no matter how outlandish they may seem. This helps you:

  • Generate a diverse range of solutions
  • Encourage all team members to participate
  • Foster creative thinking

When brainstorming, remember to:

  • Reserve judgment until the session is over
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Combine and improve upon ideas

Root Cause Analysis

For effective problem-solving, identifying the root cause of the issue at hand is crucial. Try these methods:

  • 5 Whys : Ask “why” five times to get to the underlying cause.
  • Fishbone Diagram : Create a diagram representing the problem and break it down into categories of potential causes.
  • Pareto Analysis : Determine the few most significant causes underlying the majority of problems.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis helps you examine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to your problem. To perform a SWOT analysis:

  • List your problem’s strengths, such as relevant resources or strong partnerships.
  • Identify its weaknesses, such as knowledge gaps or limited resources.
  • Explore opportunities, like trends or new technologies, that could help solve the problem.
  • Recognize potential threats, like competition or regulatory barriers.

SWOT analysis aids in understanding the internal and external factors affecting the problem, which can help guide your solution.

Mind Mapping

A mind map is a visual representation of your problem and potential solutions. It enables you to organize information in a structured and intuitive manner. To create a mind map:

  • Write the problem in the center of a blank page.
  • Draw branches from the central problem to related sub-problems or contributing factors.
  • Add more branches to represent potential solutions or further ideas.

Mind mapping allows you to visually see connections between ideas and promotes creativity in problem-solving.

Examples of Problem Solving in Various Contexts

In the business world, you might encounter problems related to finances, operations, or communication. Applying problem-solving skills in these situations could look like:

  • Identifying areas of improvement in your company’s financial performance and implementing cost-saving measures
  • Resolving internal conflicts among team members by listening and understanding different perspectives, then proposing and negotiating solutions
  • Streamlining a process for better productivity by removing redundancies, automating tasks, or re-allocating resources

In educational contexts, problem-solving can be seen in various aspects, such as:

  • Addressing a gap in students’ understanding by employing diverse teaching methods to cater to different learning styles
  • Developing a strategy for successful time management to balance academic responsibilities and extracurricular activities
  • Seeking resources and support to provide equal opportunities for learners with special needs or disabilities

Everyday life is full of challenges that require problem-solving skills. Some examples include:

  • Overcoming a personal obstacle, such as improving your fitness level, by establishing achievable goals, measuring progress, and adjusting your approach accordingly
  • Navigating a new environment or city by researching your surroundings, asking for directions, or using technology like GPS to guide you
  • Dealing with a sudden change, like a change in your work schedule, by assessing the situation, identifying potential impacts, and adapting your plans to accommodate the change.
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Culture Development

Workplace problem-solving examples: real scenarios, practical solutions.

  • March 11, 2024

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, problems are inevitable. From conflicts among employees to high levels of stress, workplace problems can significantly impact productivity and overall well-being. However, by developing the art of problem-solving and implementing practical solutions, organizations can effectively tackle these challenges and foster a positive work culture. In this article, we will delve into various workplace problem scenarios and explore strategies for resolution. By understanding common workplace problems and acquiring essential problem-solving skills, individuals and organizations can navigate these challenges with confidence and success.

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Understanding Workplace Problems

Before we can effectively solve workplace problems , it is essential to gain a clear understanding of the issues at hand. Identifying common workplace problems is the first step toward finding practical solutions. By recognizing these challenges, organizations can develop targeted strategies and initiatives to address them.

Identifying Common Workplace Problems

One of the most common workplace problems is conflict. Whether it stems from differences in opinions, miscommunication, or personality clashes, conflict can disrupt collaboration and hinder productivity. It is important to note that conflict is a natural part of any workplace, as individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives come together to work towards a common goal. However, when conflict is not managed effectively, it can escalate and create a toxic work environment.

In addition to conflict, workplace stress and burnout pose significant challenges. High workloads, tight deadlines, and a lack of work-life balance can all contribute to employee stress and dissatisfaction. When employees are overwhelmed and exhausted, their performance and overall well-being are compromised. This not only affects the individuals directly, but it also has a ripple effect on the entire organization.

Another common workplace problem is poor communication. Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and errors. It can also create a sense of confusion and frustration among employees. Clear and open communication is vital for successful collaboration and the smooth functioning of any organization.

The Impact of Workplace Problems on Productivity

Workplace problems can have a detrimental effect on productivity levels. When conflicts are left unresolved, they can create a tense work environment, leading to decreased employee motivation and engagement. The negative energy generated by unresolved conflicts can spread throughout the organization, affecting team dynamics and overall performance.

Similarly, high levels of stress and burnout can result in decreased productivity, as individuals may struggle to focus and perform optimally. When employees are constantly under pressure and overwhelmed, their ability to think creatively and problem-solve diminishes. This can lead to a decline in the quality of work produced and an increase in errors and inefficiencies.

Poor communication also hampers productivity. When information is not effectively shared or understood, it can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and rework. This not only wastes time and resources but also creates frustration and demotivation among employees.

Furthermore, workplace problems can negatively impact employee morale and job satisfaction. When individuals are constantly dealing with conflicts, stress, and poor communication, their overall job satisfaction and engagement suffer. This can result in higher turnover rates, as employees seek a healthier and more supportive work environment.

In conclusion, workplace problems such as conflict, stress, burnout, and poor communication can significantly hinder productivity and employee well-being. Organizations must address these issues promptly and proactively to create a positive and productive work atmosphere. By fostering open communication, providing support for stress management, and promoting conflict resolution strategies, organizations can create a work environment that encourages collaboration, innovation, and employee satisfaction.

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The Art of Problem Solving in the Workplace

Now that we have a clear understanding of workplace problems, let’s explore the essential skills necessary for effective problem-solving in the workplace. By developing these skills and adopting a proactive approach, individuals can tackle problems head-on and find practical solutions.

Problem-solving in the workplace is a complex and multifaceted skill that requires a combination of analytical thinking, creativity, and effective communication. It goes beyond simply identifying problems and extends to finding innovative solutions that address the root causes.

Essential Problem-Solving Skills for the Workplace

To effectively solve workplace problems, individuals should possess a range of skills. These include strong analytical and critical thinking abilities, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to collaborate and work well in a team, and the capacity to adapt to change. By honing these skills, individuals can approach workplace problems with confidence and creativity.

Analytical and critical thinking skills are essential for problem-solving in the workplace. They involve the ability to gather and analyze relevant information, identify patterns and trends, and make logical connections. These skills enable individuals to break down complex problems into manageable components and develop effective strategies to solve them.

Effective communication and interpersonal skills are also crucial for problem-solving in the workplace. These skills enable individuals to clearly articulate their thoughts and ideas, actively listen to others, and collaborate effectively with colleagues. By fostering open and honest communication channels, individuals can better understand the root causes of problems and work towards finding practical solutions.

Collaboration and teamwork are essential for problem-solving in the workplace. By working together, individuals can leverage their diverse skills, knowledge, and perspectives to generate innovative solutions. Collaboration fosters a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone’s ideas are valued, leading to more effective problem-solving outcomes.

The ability to adapt to change is another important skill for problem-solving in the workplace. In today’s fast-paced and dynamic work environment, problems often arise due to changes in technology, processes, or market conditions. Individuals who can embrace change and adapt quickly are better equipped to find solutions that address the evolving needs of the organization.

The Role of Communication in Problem Solving

Communication is a key component of effective problem-solving in the workplace. By fostering open and honest communication channels, individuals can better understand the root causes of problems and work towards finding practical solutions. Active listening, clear and concise articulation of thoughts and ideas, and the ability to empathize are all valuable communication skills that facilitate problem-solving.

Active listening involves fully engaging with the speaker, paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues, and seeking clarification when necessary. By actively listening, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the problem at hand and the perspectives of others involved. This understanding is crucial for developing comprehensive and effective solutions.

Clear and concise articulation of thoughts and ideas is essential for effective problem-solving communication. By expressing oneself clearly, individuals can ensure that their ideas are understood by others. This clarity helps to avoid misunderstandings and promotes effective collaboration.

Empathy is a valuable communication skill that plays a significant role in problem-solving. By putting oneself in the shoes of others and understanding their emotions and perspectives, individuals can build trust and rapport. This empathetic connection fosters a supportive and collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute to finding solutions.

In conclusion, problem-solving in the workplace requires a combination of essential skills such as analytical thinking, effective communication, collaboration, and adaptability. By honing these skills and fostering open communication channels, individuals can approach workplace problems with confidence and creativity, leading to practical and innovative solutions.

Real Scenarios of Workplace Problems

Now, let’s explore some real scenarios of workplace problems and delve into strategies for resolution. By examining these practical examples, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of how to approach and solve workplace problems.

Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Imagine a scenario where two team members have conflicting ideas on how to approach a project. The disagreement becomes heated, leading to a tense work environment. To resolve this conflict, it is crucial to encourage open dialogue between the team members. Facilitating a calm and respectful conversation can help uncover underlying concerns and find common ground. Collaboration and compromise are key in reaching a resolution that satisfies all parties involved.

In this particular scenario, let’s dive deeper into the dynamics between the team members. One team member, let’s call her Sarah, strongly believes that a more conservative and traditional approach is necessary for the project’s success. On the other hand, her colleague, John, advocates for a more innovative and out-of-the-box strategy. The clash between their perspectives arises from their different backgrounds and experiences.

As the conflict escalates, it is essential for a neutral party, such as a team leader or a mediator, to step in and facilitate the conversation. This person should create a safe space for both Sarah and John to express their ideas and concerns without fear of judgment or retribution. By actively listening to each other, they can gain a better understanding of the underlying motivations behind their respective approaches.

During the conversation, it may become apparent that Sarah’s conservative approach stems from a fear of taking risks and a desire for stability. On the other hand, John’s innovative mindset is driven by a passion for pushing boundaries and finding creative solutions. Recognizing these underlying motivations can help foster empathy and create a foundation for collaboration.

As the dialogue progresses, Sarah and John can begin to identify areas of overlap and potential compromise. They may realize that while Sarah’s conservative approach provides stability, John’s innovative ideas can inject fresh perspectives into the project. By combining their strengths and finding a middle ground, they can develop a hybrid strategy that incorporates both stability and innovation.

Ultimately, conflict resolution in the workplace requires effective communication, active listening, empathy, and a willingness to find common ground. By addressing conflicts head-on and fostering a collaborative environment, teams can overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Dealing with Workplace Stress and Burnout

Workplace stress and burnout can be debilitating for individuals and organizations alike. In this scenario, an employee is consistently overwhelmed by their workload and experiencing signs of burnout. To address this issue, organizations should promote a healthy work-life balance and provide resources to manage stress effectively. Encouraging employees to take breaks, providing access to mental health support, and fostering a supportive work culture are all practical solutions to alleviate workplace stress.

In this particular scenario, let’s imagine that the employee facing stress and burnout is named Alex. Alex has been working long hours, often sacrificing personal time and rest to meet tight deadlines and demanding expectations. As a result, Alex is experiencing physical and mental exhaustion, reduced productivity, and a sense of detachment from work.

Recognizing the signs of burnout, Alex’s organization takes proactive measures to address the issue. They understand that employee well-being is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. To promote a healthy work-life balance, the organization encourages employees to take regular breaks and prioritize self-care. They emphasize the importance of disconnecting from work during non-working hours and encourage employees to engage in activities that promote relaxation and rejuvenation.

Additionally, the organization provides access to mental health support services, such as counseling or therapy sessions. They recognize that stress and burnout can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental well-being and offer resources to help employees manage their stress effectively. By destigmatizing mental health and providing confidential support, the organization creates an environment where employees feel comfortable seeking help when needed.

Furthermore, the organization fosters a supportive work culture by promoting open communication and empathy. They encourage managers and colleagues to check in with each other regularly, offering support and understanding. Team members are encouraged to collaborate and share the workload, ensuring that no one person is overwhelmed with excessive responsibilities.

By implementing these strategies, Alex’s organization aims to alleviate workplace stress and prevent burnout. They understand that a healthy and balanced workforce is more likely to be engaged, productive, and satisfied. Through a combination of promoting work-life balance, providing mental health support, and fostering a supportive work culture, organizations can effectively address workplace stress and create an environment conducive to employee well-being.

Practical Solutions to Workplace Problems

Now that we have explored real scenarios, let’s discuss practical solutions that organizations can implement to address workplace problems. By adopting proactive strategies and establishing effective policies, organizations can create a positive work environment conducive to problem-solving and productivity.

Implementing Effective Policies for Problem Resolution

Organizations should have clear and well-defined policies in place to address workplace problems. These policies should outline procedures for conflict resolution, channels for reporting problems, and accountability measures. By ensuring that employees are aware of these policies and have easy access to them, organizations can facilitate problem-solving and prevent issues from escalating.

Promoting a Positive Workplace Culture

A positive workplace culture is vital for problem-solving. By fostering an environment of respect, collaboration, and open communication, organizations can create a space where individuals feel empowered to address and solve problems. Encouraging teamwork, recognizing and appreciating employees’ contributions, and promoting a healthy work-life balance are all ways to cultivate a positive workplace culture.

The Role of Leadership in Problem Solving

Leadership plays a crucial role in facilitating effective problem-solving within organizations. Different leadership styles can impact how problems are approached and resolved.

Leadership Styles and Their Impact on Problem-Solving

Leaders who adopt an autocratic leadership style may make decisions independently, potentially leaving their team members feeling excluded and undervalued. On the other hand, leaders who adopt a democratic leadership style involve their team members in the problem-solving process, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment. By encouraging employee participation, organizations can leverage the diverse perspectives and expertise of their workforce to find innovative solutions to workplace problems.

Encouraging Employee Participation in Problem Solving

To harness the collective problem-solving abilities of an organization, it is crucial to encourage employee participation. Leaders can create opportunities for employees to contribute their ideas and perspectives through brainstorming sessions, team meetings, and collaborative projects. By valuing employee input and involving them in decision-making processes, organizations can foster a culture of inclusivity and drive innovative problem-solving efforts.

In today’s dynamic work environment, workplace problems are unavoidable. However, by understanding common workplace problems, developing essential problem-solving skills, and implementing practical solutions, individuals and organizations can navigate these challenges effectively. By fostering a positive work culture, implementing effective policies, and encouraging employee participation, organizations can create an environment conducive to problem-solving and productivity. With proactive problem-solving strategies in place, organizations can thrive and overcome obstacles, ensuring long-term success and growth.

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Overview of the Problem-Solving Mental Process

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

a practical problem solving

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

a practical problem solving

  • Identify the Problem
  • Define the Problem
  • Form a Strategy
  • Organize Information
  • Allocate Resources
  • Monitor Progress
  • Evaluate the Results

Frequently Asked Questions

Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.

The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off learning everything they can about the issue and then using factual knowledge to come up with a solution. In other instances, creativity and insight are the best options.

It is not necessary to follow problem-solving steps sequentially, It is common to skip steps or even go back through steps multiple times until the desired solution is reached.

In order to correctly solve a problem, it is often important to follow a series of steps. Researchers sometimes refer to this as the problem-solving cycle. While this cycle is portrayed sequentially, people rarely follow a rigid series of steps to find a solution.

The following steps include developing strategies and organizing knowledge.

1. Identifying the Problem

While it may seem like an obvious step, identifying the problem is not always as simple as it sounds. In some cases, people might mistakenly identify the wrong source of a problem, which will make attempts to solve it inefficient or even useless.

Some strategies that you might use to figure out the source of a problem include :

  • Asking questions about the problem
  • Breaking the problem down into smaller pieces
  • Looking at the problem from different perspectives
  • Conducting research to figure out what relationships exist between different variables

2. Defining the Problem

After the problem has been identified, it is important to fully define the problem so that it can be solved. You can define a problem by operationally defining each aspect of the problem and setting goals for what aspects of the problem you will address

At this point, you should focus on figuring out which aspects of the problems are facts and which are opinions. State the problem clearly and identify the scope of the solution.

3. Forming a Strategy

After the problem has been identified, it is time to start brainstorming potential solutions. This step usually involves generating as many ideas as possible without judging their quality. Once several possibilities have been generated, they can be evaluated and narrowed down.

The next step is to develop a strategy to solve the problem. The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the individual's unique preferences. Common problem-solving strategies include heuristics and algorithms.

  • Heuristics are mental shortcuts that are often based on solutions that have worked in the past. They can work well if the problem is similar to something you have encountered before and are often the best choice if you need a fast solution.
  • Algorithms are step-by-step strategies that are guaranteed to produce a correct result. While this approach is great for accuracy, it can also consume time and resources.

Heuristics are often best used when time is of the essence, while algorithms are a better choice when a decision needs to be as accurate as possible.

4. Organizing Information

Before coming up with a solution, you need to first organize the available information. What do you know about the problem? What do you not know? The more information that is available the better prepared you will be to come up with an accurate solution.

When approaching a problem, it is important to make sure that you have all the data you need. Making a decision without adequate information can lead to biased or inaccurate results.

5. Allocating Resources

Of course, we don't always have unlimited money, time, and other resources to solve a problem. Before you begin to solve a problem, you need to determine how high priority it is.

If it is an important problem, it is probably worth allocating more resources to solving it. If, however, it is a fairly unimportant problem, then you do not want to spend too much of your available resources on coming up with a solution.

At this stage, it is important to consider all of the factors that might affect the problem at hand. This includes looking at the available resources, deadlines that need to be met, and any possible risks involved in each solution. After careful evaluation, a decision can be made about which solution to pursue.

6. Monitoring Progress

After selecting a problem-solving strategy, it is time to put the plan into action and see if it works. This step might involve trying out different solutions to see which one is the most effective.

It is also important to monitor the situation after implementing a solution to ensure that the problem has been solved and that no new problems have arisen as a result of the proposed solution.

Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress as they work towards a solution. If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies .

7. Evaluating the Results

After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the results to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem. This evaluation might be immediate, such as checking the results of a math problem to ensure the answer is correct, or it can be delayed, such as evaluating the success of a therapy program after several months of treatment.

Once a problem has been solved, it is important to take some time to reflect on the process that was used and evaluate the results. This will help you to improve your problem-solving skills and become more efficient at solving future problems.

A Word From Verywell​

It is important to remember that there are many different problem-solving processes with different steps, and this is just one example. Problem-solving in real-world situations requires a great deal of resourcefulness, flexibility, resilience, and continuous interaction with the environment.

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how you can stop dwelling in a negative mindset.

Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts

You can become a better problem solving by:

  • Practicing brainstorming and coming up with multiple potential solutions to problems
  • Being open-minded and considering all possible options before making a decision
  • Breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Researching different problem-solving techniques and trying out new ones
  • Learning from mistakes and using them as opportunities to grow

It's important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about what's going on. Try to see things from their perspective as well as your own. Work together to find a resolution that works for both of you. Be willing to compromise and accept that there may not be a perfect solution.

Take breaks if things are getting too heated, and come back to the problem when you feel calm and collected. Don't try to fix every problem on your own—consider asking a therapist or counselor for help and insight.

If you've tried everything and there doesn't seem to be a way to fix the problem, you may have to learn to accept it. This can be difficult, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your life and remember that every situation is temporary. Don't dwell on what's going wrong—instead, think about what's going right. Find support by talking to friends or family. Seek professional help if you're having trouble coping.

Davidson JE, Sternberg RJ, editors.  The Psychology of Problem Solving .  Cambridge University Press; 2003. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511615771

Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. Published 2018 Jun 26. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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Kinicki, Organizational Behavior 3e  develops students' problem-solving skills through a unique, consistent, integrated 3-step Problem-Solving Approach that lets them immediately put research-based knowledge into practice in their personal and professional lives.  Organizational Behavior 3e  explicitly addresses OB implications for students' core career readiness skills, showing how OB provides them with the higher-level soft skills employers seek, such as problem solving, critical thinking, leadership and decision making. The understanding and application of OB theories and concepts provides tremendous value to students' lives today and throughout their careers.


1. Making OB Work for Me

2. Values and Attitudes

3. Individual Differences and Emotions 

4. Social Perception and Managing Diversity

5. Foundations of Employee Motivation 

6. Performance Management

7. Positive Organizational Behavior


8. Groups and Teams

9. Communication in the Digital Age

10. Managing Conflict and Negotiation

11. Decision Making and Creativity

12. Power, Influence, and Politics 

13. Leadership Effectiveness


14. Organizational Culture, Socialization, and Mentoring

15. Organizational Design, Effectiveness, and Innovation

16. Managing Change and Stress

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ McGraw-Hill Higher Education; 3rd edition (February 6, 2020)
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About the author

Angelo Kinicki

Dr. Angelo Kinicki is an award winning professor, author, and consultant. He is a Professor of Management and is the recipient of the Weatherup/Overby Chair in Leadership at Arizona State University, (http://wpcarey.asu.edu/directory/stafffaculty.cfm). He also is a Dean's Council of 100 Distinguished Scholar at the W. P. Carey School of Business. He joined the faculty in 1982, the year he received his doctorate in business administration from Kent State University. His primary research interests include leadership, organizational culture, organizational change and multilevel issues associated with organizational effectiveness. Angelo has published over 90 articles in a variety of academic journals and is co-author of seven textbooks (21 including revisions) that are used by hundreds of universities around the world. Several of his books have been translated into multiple languages.

Angelo is a busy international consultant and is a principal at Kinicki and Associates. Inc.,(http://kinicki.com/) a management consulting firm that works with top management teams to create organizational change aimed at increasing organizational effectiveness and profitability. He has worked with many Fortune 500 firms as well as numerous entrepreneurial organizations in diverse industries. His expertise includes facilitating strategic/operational planning sessions, diagnosing the causes of organizational and work-unit problems, conducting organizational culture interventions, implementing performance management systems, designing and implementing performance appraisal systems, developing and administering surveys to assess employee attitudes, and leading management/executive education programs. He developed a 3600 leadership feedback instrument called the Performance Management Leadership Survey (PMLS) that is used by companies throughout the United States and Europe.

Angelo also is the recipient of several teaching awards from Arizona State University, including the John W. Teets Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award (2009-2010), the Outstanding Teaching Award--MBA and Master's Program (2007-2008), the John W. Teets Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award (2004-2005), the Graduate Teaching Excellence Award (1998-1999), the Continuing Education Teaching Excellence Award (1991-1992), and the Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award (1987-1988).

Angelo is an award winning researcher. He has received several research awards, including a best research paper award from the Organizational Behavior (OB) division of the Academy of Management, the All Time Best Reviewer Award (June 1996 - June 1999) and the Excellent Reviewer Award (1997-1998) from the Academy of Management Journal. Angelo also was selected to serve on the editorial review boards for the Academy of Management Journal, Personnel Psychology, the Journal of Management, and the Journal of Vocational Behavior. Professionally, Angelo has been an active member of the Academy of Management, including service as a representative at large for the Organizational Behavior (OB) division, member of the Best Paper Award committee for both the OB and Human Resources (HR) divisions, chair of the committee to select the best publication in the Academy of Management Journal, and program committee reviewer for the OB and HR divisions.

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What Is Creative Problem-Solving & Why Is It Important?

Business team using creative problem-solving

  • 01 Feb 2022

One of the biggest hindrances to innovation is complacency—it can be more comfortable to do what you know than venture into the unknown. Business leaders can overcome this barrier by mobilizing creative team members and providing space to innovate.

There are several tools you can use to encourage creativity in the workplace. Creative problem-solving is one of them, which facilitates the development of innovative solutions to difficult problems.

Here’s an overview of creative problem-solving and why it’s important in business.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Creative Problem-Solving?

Research is necessary when solving a problem. But there are situations where a problem’s specific cause is difficult to pinpoint. This can occur when there’s not enough time to narrow down the problem’s source or there are differing opinions about its root cause.

In such cases, you can use creative problem-solving , which allows you to explore potential solutions regardless of whether a problem has been defined.

Creative problem-solving is less structured than other innovation processes and encourages exploring open-ended solutions. It also focuses on developing new perspectives and fostering creativity in the workplace . Its benefits include:

  • Finding creative solutions to complex problems : User research can insufficiently illustrate a situation’s complexity. While other innovation processes rely on this information, creative problem-solving can yield solutions without it.
  • Adapting to change : Business is constantly changing, and business leaders need to adapt. Creative problem-solving helps overcome unforeseen challenges and find solutions to unconventional problems.
  • Fueling innovation and growth : In addition to solutions, creative problem-solving can spark innovative ideas that drive company growth. These ideas can lead to new product lines, services, or a modified operations structure that improves efficiency.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

Creative problem-solving is traditionally based on the following key principles :

1. Balance Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Creative problem-solving uses two primary tools to find solutions: divergence and convergence. Divergence generates ideas in response to a problem, while convergence narrows them down to a shortlist. It balances these two practices and turns ideas into concrete solutions.

2. Reframe Problems as Questions

By framing problems as questions, you shift from focusing on obstacles to solutions. This provides the freedom to brainstorm potential ideas.

3. Defer Judgment of Ideas

When brainstorming, it can be natural to reject or accept ideas right away. Yet, immediate judgments interfere with the idea generation process. Even ideas that seem implausible can turn into outstanding innovations upon further exploration and development.

4. Focus on "Yes, And" Instead of "No, But"

Using negative words like "no" discourages creative thinking. Instead, use positive language to build and maintain an environment that fosters the development of creative and innovative ideas.

Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking

Whereas creative problem-solving facilitates developing innovative ideas through a less structured workflow, design thinking takes a far more organized approach.

Design thinking is a human-centered, solutions-based process that fosters the ideation and development of solutions. In the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar leverages a four-phase framework to explain design thinking.

The four stages are:

The four stages of design thinking: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement

  • Clarify: The clarification stage allows you to empathize with the user and identify problems. Observations and insights are informed by thorough research. Findings are then reframed as problem statements or questions.
  • Ideate: Ideation is the process of coming up with innovative ideas. The divergence of ideas involved with creative problem-solving is a major focus.
  • Develop: In the development stage, ideas evolve into experiments and tests. Ideas converge and are explored through prototyping and open critique.
  • Implement: Implementation involves continuing to test and experiment to refine the solution and encourage its adoption.

Creative problem-solving primarily operates in the ideate phase of design thinking but can be applied to others. This is because design thinking is an iterative process that moves between the stages as ideas are generated and pursued. This is normal and encouraged, as innovation requires exploring multiple ideas.

Creative Problem-Solving Tools

While there are many useful tools in the creative problem-solving process, here are three you should know:

Creating a Problem Story

One way to innovate is by creating a story about a problem to understand how it affects users and what solutions best fit their needs. Here are the steps you need to take to use this tool properly.

1. Identify a UDP

Create a problem story to identify the undesired phenomena (UDP). For example, consider a company that produces printers that overheat. In this case, the UDP is "our printers overheat."

2. Move Forward in Time

To move forward in time, ask: “Why is this a problem?” For example, minor damage could be one result of the machines overheating. In more extreme cases, printers may catch fire. Don't be afraid to create multiple problem stories if you think of more than one UDP.

3. Move Backward in Time

To move backward in time, ask: “What caused this UDP?” If you can't identify the root problem, think about what typically causes the UDP to occur. For the overheating printers, overuse could be a cause.

Following the three-step framework above helps illustrate a clear problem story:

  • The printer is overused.
  • The printer overheats.
  • The printer breaks down.

You can extend the problem story in either direction if you think of additional cause-and-effect relationships.

4. Break the Chains

By this point, you’ll have multiple UDP storylines. Take two that are similar and focus on breaking the chains connecting them. This can be accomplished through inversion or neutralization.

  • Inversion: Inversion changes the relationship between two UDPs so the cause is the same but the effect is the opposite. For example, if the UDP is "the more X happens, the more likely Y is to happen," inversion changes the equation to "the more X happens, the less likely Y is to happen." Using the printer example, inversion would consider: "What if the more a printer is used, the less likely it’s going to overheat?" Innovation requires an open mind. Just because a solution initially seems unlikely doesn't mean it can't be pursued further or spark additional ideas.
  • Neutralization: Neutralization completely eliminates the cause-and-effect relationship between X and Y. This changes the above equation to "the more or less X happens has no effect on Y." In the case of the printers, neutralization would rephrase the relationship to "the more or less a printer is used has no effect on whether it overheats."

Even if creating a problem story doesn't provide a solution, it can offer useful context to users’ problems and additional ideas to be explored. Given that divergence is one of the fundamental practices of creative problem-solving, it’s a good idea to incorporate it into each tool you use.


Brainstorming is a tool that can be highly effective when guided by the iterative qualities of the design thinking process. It involves openly discussing and debating ideas and topics in a group setting. This facilitates idea generation and exploration as different team members consider the same concept from multiple perspectives.

Hosting brainstorming sessions can result in problems, such as groupthink or social loafing. To combat this, leverage a three-step brainstorming method involving divergence and convergence :

  • Have each group member come up with as many ideas as possible and write them down to ensure the brainstorming session is productive.
  • Continue the divergence of ideas by collectively sharing and exploring each idea as a group. The goal is to create a setting where new ideas are inspired by open discussion.
  • Begin the convergence of ideas by narrowing them down to a few explorable options. There’s no "right number of ideas." Don't be afraid to consider exploring all of them, as long as you have the resources to do so.

Alternate Worlds

The alternate worlds tool is an empathetic approach to creative problem-solving. It encourages you to consider how someone in another world would approach your situation.

For example, if you’re concerned that the printers you produce overheat and catch fire, consider how a different industry would approach the problem. How would an automotive expert solve it? How would a firefighter?

Be creative as you consider and research alternate worlds. The purpose is not to nail down a solution right away but to continue the ideation process through diverging and exploring ideas.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Continue Developing Your Skills

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, marketer, or business leader, learning the ropes of design thinking can be an effective way to build your skills and foster creativity and innovation in any setting.

If you're ready to develop your design thinking and creative problem-solving skills, explore Design Thinking and Innovation , one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses. If you aren't sure which course is the right fit, download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

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Why the world needs more builders — and less "us vs. them"

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14 Signs Of Above Average Intelligence: Smart People Do These

I ntelligence isn't just about acing tests or having an impressive vocabulary. It's about the little things. The subtle habits and actions that reveal a deeper kind of smarts.

Recognizing these traits in others can be a game-changer, helping to nurture hidden talents and foster a culture of continuous learning and growth.

It's important to point out that just because someone does some of these, does not mean they are intelligent. Correlation is not causation.

In this article, we'll explore various signs of everyday genius and provide practical tips for recognizing and nurturing these traits in anyone.

Curiosity and Learning

1. asking thought-provoking questions.

Curiosity is a powerful driver of continuous learning, and it's something worth encouraging. To nurture this habit, create an environment where questions are welcomed and explored.

Kids can be annoying with their "who, what, when, why, where, and how" questions. Adults can be even worse when they ask those questions perpetually. But curiosity is an internal drive to learn more. Accept and answer the questions.

2. Quick to Learn New Skills

If you notice someone picking up new skills rapidly they're demonstrating a form of intelligence that goes beyond book smarts.

Foster this love for learning by providing opportunities to explore new interests. Encourage them to take on new challenges and celebrate their achievements, no matter how small.

Creativity and Problem-Solving

3. innovative solutions to everyday problems.

Got someone who always seems to come up with clever solutions to everyday problems? Maybe they figured out a more efficient way to organize the pantry or devised a creative method to get the kids to do their chores.

This kind of lateral thinking is a hallmark of creative problem-solving. Encourage these innovative approaches by involving everyone in problem-solving activities. Host hackathons where everyone pitches in to solve a common issue.

4. Artistic and Creative Pursuits

Artistic hobbies like drawing, music, and crafting are more than just fun pastimes; they're also signs of intelligence. Engaging in creative activities stimulates the brain and fosters a range of cognitive skills.

If you notice someone excelling in these areas, support their interests by providing the necessary tools and resources. Attend their performances, display their artwork, and encourage them to share their talents with others.

5. Questioning Assumptions

A key aspect of intelligence is the ability to question assumptions and think critically about information. People who frequently challenge the status quo and consider multiple perspectives demonstrate strong analytical skills.

Encourage critical thinking by fostering an environment where questioning and debate are welcomed. Discuss current events, explore different viewpoints, and engage in thought-provoking discussions.

6. Analyzing Complex Problems

If someone excels at breaking down complex problems into manageable parts and finding logical solutions, they’re showcasing analytical intelligence.

Support this by providing opportunities to tackle challenging problems, whether through puzzles, strategic games, or real-life scenarios that require critical thinking.

Social and Emotional Intelligence

7. understanding and empathy.

High emotional intelligence is often reflected in a person's ability to understand and empathize with others. If someone is particularly good at sensing when someone is upset and offering comfort, they're demonstrating a valuable form of intelligence.

Empathy plays a crucial role in dynamics, fostering stronger relationships and a more harmonious environment.

Build emotional intelligence together by practicing active listening and engaging in activities that promote empathy, such as volunteering or discussing emotions openly.

Empathy is one trait that can also be completely absent or seem absent of highly intelligent people.

8. Strong Communication Skills

Effective communication is a key indicator of intelligence. If others are good at expressing their thoughts clearly and listening actively, they're demonstrating strong communication skills.

Good communication can significantly improve interactions and relationships. Enhance these skills by setting aside time for discussions, encouraging open dialogue, and practicing active listening.

9. Eye Contact

Maintaining eye contact can indicate confidence, attention, and a high level of social intelligence. It demonstrates the ability to connect with others and understand non-verbal cues, which are critical components of effective communication.

Encourage eye contact by practicing it in conversations and explaining its importance in building trust and understanding.

10. Body Language

People who are adept at reading and using body language often have strong interpersonal skills. They can pick up on subtle cues and respond appropriately, which is a sign of high emotional intelligence.

Teach the importance of body language by discussing different gestures and their meanings. Role-playing scenarios can also help improve this skill.

Practical Intelligence

11. efficient time management.

If someone always seems to manage their time well they're showcasing practical intelligence. Time management is a crucial skill that can lead to greater productivity and less stress.

This skill can also be learned. You can improve time management skills by creating schedules, setting priorities, and using tools like calendars and planners. But for some people, it's a sign of intelligence. It's a system they figured out.

12. Financial Savvy

Smart financial decisions, such as budgeting, saving, and investing, are clear signs of financial intelligence. If someone is particularly good at managing money, they're demonstrating a valuable skill that benefits everyone.

Once again, this is a system that has been figured out through intelligence.

Related: Teach Your Kid Personal Finance

Everyday Signs of Genius in Children

13. advanced vocabulary and language skills.

Children with above-average language development often display advanced vocabulary and communication skills. If a child is using complex words or forming well-structured sentences at a young age, they're showing signs of linguistic intelligence.

There are instances where highly intelligent children do not speak until they are three years old. However, when they do start talking, they can often form full, intelligible paragraphs and tell stories.

Nurture these skills by reading together, engaging in conversations, and providing opportunities for creative expression through writing and storytelling.

14. Early Interest in Reading and Numbers

An early interest in reading and numbers is a strong indicator of academic intelligence. If a child is drawn to books or enjoys playing with numbers, they're demonstrating a love for learning.

Support their interests by providing age-appropriate reading materials, educational toys, and engaging in activities that promote literacy and numeracy.

Related : Building Strong Readers: Kindergarten Sight Words Guide

Figuring It Out

There is a general theme to all of these traits of intelligent people. They all have to do with "figuring it out". Each trait is a function of understanding the system that the person is in.

Recognizing the everyday signs of genius in others is the first step towards nurturing these valuable traits.

Through curiosity and learning, creativity and problem-solving, social and emotional intelligence, practical intelligence, or healthy habits and lifestyle choices, there is a hidden genius in everyone waiting to be discovered and developed.

Take practical steps to appreciate and foster intelligence in your everyday life, and watch as those around you thrive.

🙋‍♀️If you like what you just read, then subscribe to my newsletter and follow us on YouTube .👈

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Practical performance problem solving in Jetpack Compose

1. before you begin.

In this codelab, you learn how to improve the runtime performance of a Compose app. You follow a scientific approach to measure, debug, and optimize performance. You investigate multiple performance issues with system tracing and change non-performant runtime code in a sample app, which contains several screens that represent different tasks. The screens are each built differently and include the following:

  • The first screen is a two-column list with image items and some tags on top of the item. Here, you optimize heavy composables.
  • The second and third screens contain a frequently recomposing state. Here, you remove unnecessary recompositions to optimize performance.
  • The last screen contains unstable items. Here, you stabilize the items with various techniques.


  • Knowledge of how to build Compose apps.
  • Basic understanding of testing or running macrobenchmarks .

What you learn

  • How to pinpoint performance issues with system traces and composition tracing .
  • How to write performant Compose apps that render smoothly.

What you need

  • The latest stable version of Android Studio
  • A physical Android device with Android 6 (API level 23) or higher

2. Get set up

To get started, follow these steps:

  • Clone the GitHub repository:

Alternatively, you can download the repository as a zip file:

file_download Download the starting point

  • Open the PerformanceCodelab project, which contains the following branches:
  • main : Contains the starter code for this project, where you make changes to complete the codelab.
  • end : Contains the solution code for this codelab.

We recommend that you begin with the main branch and follow the codelab step-by-step at your own pace.

  • If you want to see the solution code, run this command:

Alternatively, you can download the solution code:

file_download Download the final code

Optional: System traces used in this codelab

You will run several benchmarks that capture system traces during the codelab.

If you're not able to run these benchmarks, here's a list of system traces you can download instead:





3. Approach to fixing performance issues

Spotting slow, non-performant UI is possible with just plain sight and exploring the app. But before you jump in and start fixing code based on your assumptions, you should measure the performance of your code to understand if your changes will make a difference.

During development, with a debuggable build of your app, you might notice something is not as performant as needed and you might be tempted to start dealing with this problem. But a debuggable app's performance is not representative of what your users will see, so it's important to verify with a non-debuggable app that it actually is a problem. In a debuggable app, all of the code has to be interpreted by the runtime.

When thinking about performance in Compose, there's no hard rule you should follow to implement a particular functionality. You shouldn't do the following prematurely:

  • Don't chase and fix every unstable parameter that sneaks into your code.
  • Don't remove animations causing recomposition of that composable.
  • Don't do hard-to-read optimizations based on your gut feeling.

All of these modifications should be done in an informed way using the available tools to be sure that they're addressing the performance issue.

When dealing with performance issues, you should follow this scientific approach:

  • Establish the initial performance by measuring.
  • Observe what's causing the problem.
  • Modify the code based on the observations.
  • Measure and compare with initial performance.

If you don't follow any structured method, some of the changes might improve performance, but others might degrade it, and you can end up with the same outcome.

We recommend watching the following video on enhancing app performance with Compose that goes through the journey of fixing performance issues and even shows some tips on how to improve it.

Generate Baseline Profiles

Before you dive into investigating performance issues, generate a Baseline Profile for your app . On Android 6 (API level 23) and higher, apps run code interpreted at runtime and compiled just-in-time (JIT) and ahead-of-time (AOT) at installation. Interpreted and JIT compiled code runs slower than AOT, but takes less space on disk and in memory, which is why not all code should be AOT compiled.

By implementing Baseline Profiles, you can improve your app startup by 30% and reduce the code running in JIT mode at runtime by eight times as shown in the following image based on the Now in Android sample app:


For more information about Baseline Profiles, see the following resources:

  • Baseline Profiles documentation
  • Improve app performance with Baseline Profiles codelab

Measure performance

To measure performance, we recommend setting up and writing benchmarks with Jetpack Macrobenchmark . Macrobenchmarks are instrumented tests that interact with your app as a user would while monitoring performance of your app. This means they don't pollute the app code with testing code and thus provide reliable performance information.

In this codelab, we already set up the codebase and wrote the benchmarks to focus directly on fixing performance issues. If you're unsure of how to set up and use Macrobenchmark in your project, see the following resources:

  • Inspect app performance with Macrobenchmark codelab
  • Inspecting Performance–MAD skills
  • Write a Macrobenchmark documentation

With Macrobenchmarks, you can choose one of the following compilation modes :

  • None : Resets the compilation state and runs everything in JIT mode.
  • Partial : Pre-compiles the app with Baseline Profiles and/or warm-up iterations, and runs in JIT mode.
  • Full : Pre-compiles the entire app code, so there's no code running in JIT mode.

In this codelab, you only use the CompilationMode.Full() mode for the benchmarks because you only care about the changes that you make in the code, not the compilation state of the app. This approach lets you reduce the variance that would be caused by the code running in JIT mode, which should be reduced when implementing custom Baseline Profiles. Beware that Full mode can have a negative effect on app startup, so don't use it for benchmarks measuring app startup, but use it only for benchmarks measuring runtime performance improvements.

When you're done with the performance improvements and you want to check the performance to see how it performs when your users install the app, use the CompilationMode.Partial() mode that uses baseline profiles.

In the next section, you learn how to read the traces to find the performance problems.

4. Analyze performance with system tracing

With a debuggable build of your app, you can use the Layout Inspector with composition count to quickly understand when something is recomposing too often.

However, it is only part of the overall performance investigation because you only get proxy measurements and not the actual time those composables took to render. It might not matter much if something recomposes N times if the total duration takes less than a millisecond. But on the other hand, it matters if something is composed just once or twice, and takes 100 milliseconds. Oftentimes, a composable might compose only once, and yet take too long to do that and slow your screen.

To reliably investigate performance issues, and give you insight into what your app is doing and whether it takes longer than it should, you can use system tracing with composition tracing.

System tracing gives you timing information of anything that happens in your app. It doesn't add any overhead to your app and therefore you can keep it in the production app without needing to worry about performance negative effects.

Set up composition tracing

Compose automatically populates some information on its runtime phases like when something is recomposing or when a lazy layout prefetches items. However, it's not enough information to actually figure out what might be a problematic section. You can improve the amount of information by setting up the composition tracing , which gives you the name of every single composable that was composed during the trace. This lets you start investigating performance problems without needing to add many custom trace("label") sections.

To enable Composition tracing, follow these steps:

  • Add the runtime-tracing dependency to your :app module:

At this point, you could record a system trace with Android Studio profiler and it would include all the information, but we will use the Macrobenchmark for performance measurements and system traces recording.

  • Add additional dependencies to the :measure module to enable composition tracing with Macrobenchmark:
  • Add the androidx.benchmark.fullTracing.enable=true instrumentation argument to the build.gradle file of the :measure module:

For more information about how to set up composition tracing, such as how to use it from terminal, see the documentation .

Capture initial performance with Macrobenchmark

There are several ways that you can retrieve a system trace file. For example, you could record with Android Studio profiler , capture it on device , or retrieve a system trace recorded with the Macrobenchmark. In this codelab, you use the traces taken by the Macrobenchmark library.

This project contains benchmarks in the :measure module that you can run to get the performance measurements. The benchmarks in this project are set to only run one iteration to save time during this codelab. In the real app, it's recommended to have at least ten iterations if the output variance is high.

To capture the initial performance, use the AccelerateHeavyScreenBenchmark test that scrolls the screen of the first task screen, follow these steps:

  • Open the AccelerateHeavyScreenBenchmark.kt file.
  • Run the benchmark with the gutter action next to the benchmark class:


This benchmark scrolls the Task 1 screen and captures frame timing and custom

trace sections.

After the benchmark finishes, you should see the results in the Android Studio output pane:

The important metrics in the output are the following:

  • frameDurationCpuMs : Tells you how long it took to render frames. The shorter, the better.
  • frameOverrunMs : Tells you how much time was over the frame limit, including the work on GPU. A negative number is good because it means that there was still time.

The other metrics, such as the ImagePlaceholderMs metric, are using custom trace sections and outputs summed duration of all those sections in the trace file and how many times it occurred with the ImagePlaceholderCount metric.

All of these metrics can help us understand if the changes we make to our codebase are improving the performance.

Read the trace file

You can read the system trace from either Android Studio or with the web-based tool Perfetto .

While Android Studio profiler is a good way to quickly open a trace and show the process of your app, Perfetto provides more in-depth investigation capabilities for all processes running on a system with powerful SQL queries and more. In this codelab, you use Perfetto to analyze system traces.

  • Open the Perfetto website, which loads the tool's dashboard.
  • Locate the system traces captured by Macrobenchmark on your hosting file system, which are saved in [module]/outputs/connected_android_test_additional_output/benchmarkRelease/connected/[device]/ folder. Every benchmark iteration records a separate trace file, each containing the same interactions with your app.


  • Drag the AccelerateHeavyScreenBenchmark_...iter000...perfetto-trace file to the Perfetto UI and wait until it loads the trace file.
  • Optional: If you're not able to run the benchmark and generate the trace file, download our trace file and drag it to Perfetto:
  • Find the process of your app, which is called com.compose.performance . Usually the foreground app is below the hardware information lanes and a couple of system lanes.
  • Open the drop-down menu with the app's process name. You see the list of threads running in your app. Keep the trace file opened because you need it in the next step.

To find a performance problem in your app, you can leverage the Expected and Actual timelines on top of your app's thread list:


The Expected Timeline tells you when the system expects the frames being produced by your app to show fluid, performant UI, which is, in this case, 16ms and 600µs (1000ms / 60). The Actual Timeline shows the real duration of frames produced by your app, including GPU work.

You might see different colors, which indicate the following:

  • Green frame : The frame produced on time.
  • Red frame : The janky frame took longer than expected. You should investigate the work done in these frames to prevent performance issues.
  • Light-green frame : The frame was produced within the time limit, but presented late, resulting in an increased input latency.
  • Yellow frame : The frame was janky, but the app wasn't the reason.

When the UI is rendered on screen, the changes are required to be faster than the duration your device expects a frame to be created. Historically this was approximately 16.6ms given that the display refresh rate was 60Hz, but for modern Android devices, it may be approximately 11ms or less because the display refresh rate is 90Hz or faster. It can also be different for each frame due to variable refresh rates .

For example, if your UI is composed of 16 items, then each item has roughly 1ms to be created to prevent any skipped frames. On the other hand, if you only have one item, such as a video player, it can take up to 16ms to compose it without jank.

Understand the system-tracing call chart

In the following image is an example of a simplified version of a system trace showing recomposition.


Each bar from the top down is the total time of the bars below it, the bars also correspond to the sections of code of functions called. Compose calls recompose on your composition hierarchy. The first composable is the MaterialTheme . Inside MaterialTheme is a composition local providing the theming information. From there, the HomeScreen composable is called. The home screen composable calls the MyImage and MyButton composables as part of its composition.

Gaps in system traces are from untraced code being run because system traces only show code that is marked for tracing. The code being run is happening after MyImage is called, but before MyButton is called and is taking up the amount of time the gap is sized.

In the next step, you analyze the trace you took in the previous step.

5. Accelerate heavy composables

As a first task when trying to optimize performance of your app, you should seek any heavy composables or a long-running task on the main thread. The long-running work might mean different things depending on how complicated your UI is and how much time there is to compose the UI.

So if a frame is dropped, you need to find which composables are taking too long and make them faster by offloading the main thread or skipping some of the work they do on the main thread.

To analyze the trace taken from the AccelerateHeavyScreenBenchmark test, follow these steps:

  • Open the system trace that you took in the previous step.
  • Zoom in on the first long frame, which contains the UI initialization after the data is loaded. The content of the frame looks similar to the following image:


In the trace, you can see there are many things happening inside one frame, which can be found under Choreographer#doFrame section. You can see from the image that the biggest chunk of work comes from the composable that contains the ImagePlaceholder section, which loads a big image.

Don't load big images on the main thread

It might be obvious to load images asynchronously from a network using one of the convenience libraries like Coil or Glide , but what if you have a big image locally in your app that you need to show?

The common painterResource composable function that loads an image from resources loads the image on the main thread during composition. This means that if your image is big, it can block the main thread with some work.

In your case, you can see the problem as part of the asynchronous image placeholder. The painterResource composable loads a placeholder image that takes approximately 23ms to load.


There are several ways that you can improve this problem, including the following:

  • Load the image asynchronously.
  • Make the image smaller so that it loads faster.
  • Use a vector drawable that scales based on required size.

To fix this performance problem, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to the AccelerateHeavyScreen.kt file.
  • Locate the imagePlaceholder() composable that loads the image. The placeholder image has dimensions of 1600x1600px, which is clearly too big for what it shows.


  • Change the drawable to R.drawable.placeholder_vector :
  • Rerun the AccelerateHeavyScreenBenchmark test, which rebuilds the app and takes the system trace again.
  • Drag the system trace to the Perfetto dashboard.

Alternatively, you can download the trace:

  • Search for the ImagePlaceholder trace section, which shows you directly the improved part.


  • Observe that the ImagePlaceholder function doesn't block the main thread that much anymore.


As an alternative solution in the real app, it might not be a placeholder image causing trouble, but some artwork. In this case, you might use Coil's rememberAsyncImage composable, which loads the composable asynchronously. This solution would show empty space until the placeholder is loaded , so beware that you might need to have a placeholder for these kinds of images.

There are still some other things that don't perform well, which you tackle in the next step.

6. Offload a heavy operation to a background thread

If we keep investigating the same item for additional problems, you will encounter sections with the name binder transaction , which take approximately 1ms each.


Sections called binder transaction show that there was an interprocess communication happening between your process and some system process. It is a normal way of retrieving some information from the system, such as retrieving a system service.

These transactions are included in many of the APIs communicating with the system. For example, when retrieving a system service with getSystemService , registering a broadcast receiver, or requesting a ConnectivityManager .

Unfortunately these transactions don't provide much information about what they're requesting, so you have to analyze your code on the mentioned API usages and then add a custom trace section to be sure it's the problematic part.

To do improve the binder transactions, follow these steps:

  • Open the AccelerateHeavyScreen.kt file.
  • Locate the PublishedText composable. This composable formats a datetime with the current timezone and registers a BroadcastReceiver object that keeps the track of timezone changes. It contains a currentTimeZone state variable with the default system timezone as an initial value and then a DisposableEffect that registers a broadcast receiver for the timezone changes. Lastly, this composable shows a formatted datetime with Text . DisposableEffect , which is a good choice in this scenario because you need a way to unregister the broadcast receiver, which is done in the onDispose lambda. The problematic part, though, is that the code inside the DisposableEffect blocks the main thread:
  • Wrap the context.registerReceiver with a trace call to ensure that this is indeed what's causing all the binder transactions :

In general, a code running that long on the main thread might not cause many troubles, but the fact that this transaction runs for every single item visible on screen might cause problems. Assuming there are six items visible on screen, they need to be composed with the first frame. These calls alone can take 12ms of time, which is almost the whole deadline for one frame.

To fix this, you need to offload the broadcast registration to a different thread. You can do so with coroutines.

  • Get a scope that's tied to the composable lifecycle val scope = rememberCoroutineScope() .
  • Inside the effect, launch a coroutine on a dispatcher that isn't Dispatchers.Main . For example, Dispatchers.IO in this case. This way, the broadcast registration doesn't block the main thread, but the actual state currentTimeZone is kept in the main thread.

There's one more step to optimize this. You don't need a broadcast receiver for each item in the list, but only one. You should hoist it!

You can either hoist it and pass the timezone parameter down the tree of composables or, given it's not used in many places in your UI, you can use a composition local.

For the purpose of this codelab, you keep the broadcast receiver as part of the composables tree. However, in the real app, it might be beneficial to separate it into a data layer to prevent polluting your UI code.

  • Define the composition local with the default system timezone:
  • Update the ProvideCurrentTimeZone composable that takes a content lambda to provide the current time zone:
  • Move the DisposableEffect out of the PublishedText composable into the new one to hoist it there, and replace the currentTimeZone with the state and side effect:
  • Wrap a composable in which you want the composition local to be valid with the ProvideCurrentTimeZone . You can wrap the entire AccelerateHeavyScreen as shown in the following snippet:
  • Change the PublishedText composable to only contain the basic formatting functionality and read the current value of the composition local through LocalTimeZone.current :
  • Rerun the benchmark, which builds the app.

Alternatively, you can download the system trace with corrected code:

  • Drag the trace file to the Perfetto dashboard. All of the binder transactions sections are gone from the main thread.
  • Search for the section name that's similar to the previous step. You can find it in one of the other threads created by coroutines ( DefaultDispatch ):


7. Remove unnecessary subcompositions

You moved the heavy code from the main thread, so it's not blocking composition anymore. There's still potential for improvement. You can remove some unnecessary overhead in the form of a LazyRow composable in each item.

In the example, each of the items contain a row of tags as highlighted in the following image:


This row is implemented with a LazyRow composable because it's easy to write it this way. Pass the items to the LazyRow composable and it takes care of the rest:

The problem is that while Lazy layouts excel in layouts where you have much more items than the constrained size, they incur some additional cost, which is unnecessary when the lazy composition is not required.

Given the nature of Lazy composables, which use a SubcomposeLayout composable, they are always shown as multiple chunks of work, first the container and then the items that are currently visible on screen, which is the second chunk of work. You can also find a compose:lazylist:prefetch trace in the system trace, which indicates that additional items are getting into the viewport and therefore they're prefetched to be ready in advance.


To determine roughly how much time this takes in your case, open the same trace file. You can see that there are sections detached from the parent item. Each item consists of the actual item being composed and then the tags items. This way each item results in roughly 2.5 milliseconds of composition time, which, if you multiply by the number of visible items, gives another big chunk of work.


To fix this, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to the AccelerateHeavyScreen.kt file and locate the ItemTags composable.
  • Change the LazyRow implementation to a Row composable that iterates over the tags list as in the following snippet:
  • Rerun the benchmark, which will also build the app.
  • Optional: Download the system tracing with corrected code:
  • Find the ItemTag sections, observe that it takes less time, and it uses the same Compose:recompose root section.


A similar situation might occur with other containers using a SubcomposeLayout composable, for example a BoxWithConstraints composable. It can span creation of the items across Compose:recompose sections, which might not be shown directly as a janky frame, but can be visible to the user. If you can, try to avoid a BoxWithConstraints composable in each item as it might only be needed when you compose a different UI based on the available space.

In this section you learned how to fix compositions that take too long.

8. Compare results with the initial benchmark

Now that you have finished optimizing the screen for performance, you should compare the benchmark results to the initial results.


  • Select the oldest run that relates to the initial benchmark without any changes and compare the frameDurationCpuMs and frameOverrunMs metrics. You should see results similar to the following table:
  • Select the newest run that relates to the benchmark with all the optimizations. You should see results similar to the following table:

If you specifically check the frameOverrunMs row, you can see that all of the percentiles improved:

In the next section, you learn how to fix a composition that happens too often.

9. Prevent unnecessary recompositions

Compose has 3 phases:

  • Composition determines what to show by building a tree of composables.
  • Layout takes that tree and determines where the composables will appear on screen.
  • Drawing draws the composables on the screen.

The order of these phases is generally the same, allowing data to flow in one direction from composition to layout to drawing to produce a UI frame.


BoxWithConstraints , lazy layouts (for example LazyColumn or LazyVerticalGrid ) and all layouts based on SubcomposeLayout composables are notable exceptions, where the composition of children depends on the parents' layout phases.

Generally, composition is the most expensive phase to run as there is the most work to do and you may also cause other unrelated composables to recompose.

Most frames contain all three phases, but Compose can actually skip a phase entirely if there's no work to do. You can take advantage of this capability to increase the performance of your app.

Defer composition phases with lambda modifiers

Composable functions are run in the composition phase. To allow code to be run at a different time, you can provide it as a lambda function.

To do so, follow these steps:

  • Open the PhasesComposeLogo.kt file
  • Navigate to the Task 2 screen within the app. You see a logo that bounces off the edge of the screen.
  • Open the Layout Inspector and inspect Recomposition counts . You see a rapidly increasing number of recompositions.


  • Optional: Locate the PhasesComposeLogoBenchmark.kt file and run it to retrieve the system trace to see the composition of PhasesComposeLogo trace section that occurs on every frame. Recompositions are shown in a trace as repeating sections with the same name.


  • If necessary, close the profiler and Layout Inspector, and then return to the code. You see the PhaseComposeLogo composable that looks like the following:

The logoPosition composable contains logic that changes its state with every frame and looks as follows:

The state is being read in the PhasesComposeLogo composable with the Modifier.offset(x.dp, y.dp) modifier, which means that it reads it in composition.

This modifier is why the app recomposes on every frame of this animation. In this case, there is a simple alternative: the lambda-based Offset modifier.

  • Update the Image composable to use the Modifier.offset modifier, which accepts a lambda that returns IntOffset object as in the following snippet:
  • Rerun the app and check the layout inspector. You see that the animation no longer generates any recomposition.

Remember, you shouldn't have to recompose only to adjust the layout of a screen, especially during scroll, which leads to janky frames. Recomposition that occurs during scroll is almost always unnecessary and should be avoided.

Other lambda modifiers

The Modifier.offset modifier isn't the only modifier with the lambda version. In the following table, you can see the common modifiers that would recompose every time, which can be replaced with its deferred alternatives when passing in a state value that frequently changes:

10. Defer Compose phases with custom layout

Using a lambda-based modifier is often the easiest way to avoid invalidating the composition, but sometimes there isn't a lambda-based modifier that does what you need. In these cases, you can directly implement a custom layout or even Canvas composable to go straight to the draw phase. Compose state reads done inside a custom layout only invalidate layout and skip recomposition. As a general guideline, if you only want to adjust the layout or size, but not add or remove composables, you can often achieve the effect without invalidating composition at all.

  • Open the PhasesAnimatedShape.kt file and then run the app.
  • Navigate to the Task 3 screen. This screen contains a shape that changes size when you click a button. The size value is animated with the animateDpAsState Compose animation API.
  • Open the Layout Inspector.
  • Click Toggle size .
  • Observe that the shape recomposes on every frame of the animation.


The MyShape composable takes the size object as a parameter, which is a state read. This means that when the size object changes, the PhasesAnimatedShape composable (the nearest recomposition scope) is recomposed and subsequently the MyShape composable is recomposed because its inputs have changed.

To skip recomposition, follow these steps:

  • Change the size parameter to a lambda function so that the size changes don't directly recompose the MyShape composable:
  • Update the call site in the PhasesAnimatedShape composable to use the lambda function:

Changing the size parameter to a lambda delays the state read. Now it occurs when the lambda is invoked.

  • Change the body of the MyShape composable to the following:

On the first line of the layout modifier measure lambda, you can see that the size lambda is invoked. This is inside the layout modifier, so it only invalidates layout, not composition.

  • Rerun the app, navigate to the Task 3 screen, and then open the Layout Inspector.
  • Click Toggle Size and then observe that the size of the shape animates the same as before, but the MyShape composable doesn't recompose.

11. Prevent recompositions with stable classes

Compose generates code that can skip execution of the composable if all of its input parameters are stable and haven't changed from previous composition. A type is stable if it is immutable or if it is possible for the Compose engine to know whether its value has changed between recompositions.

If the Compose engine isn't sure if a composable is stable, it will treat it as unstable and won't generate the code logic for skipping recomposition, which means that the composable will recompose every time. This can occur when a class is not a primitive type and one of the following situations occur:

  • It's a mutable class. For example, it contains a mutable property.
  • It's a class defined in a Gradle module that doesn't use Compose. They don't have a dependency on Compose compiler.
  • It's a class that contains an unstable property.

This behavior can be undesirable in some cases, where it causes performance issues and can be changed when you do the following:

  • Enable the strong skipping mode
  • Annotate the parameter with a @Immutable or @Stable annotation.
  • Add the class to the stability configuration file.

For more information on stability, read the documentation .

In this task, you have a list of items that can be added, removed, or checked, and you need to make sure that the items don't recompose when recomposition is unnecessary. There are two types of items alternating between ones that are recreated every time and ones that don't.

The items that are recreated every time are here as a simulation of the real-world use case where data comes from a local database (for example Room or sqlDelight ) or remote data source (such as API requests or Firestore entities), and returns a new instance of the object every time that there's a change.

Several composables have a Modifier.recomposeHighlighter() modifier attached, which you can find in our GitHub repository . This modifier shows a border whenever a composable is recomposed and can serve as an alternative temporary solution to Layout inspector.

Enable strong skipping mode

Jetpack Compose compiler 1.5.4 and higher comes with an option to enable strong skipping mode, which means that even composables with unstable parameters can generate skipping code . This mode is expected to radically reduce the amount of unskippable composables in your project, thus improving performance without any code change.

For the unstable parameters, the skipping logic is compared for instance equality , which means that parameter would be skipped if the same instance was passed to the composable as in the previous case. In contrast, stable parameters use structural equality (by calling the Object.equals() method) to determine skipping logic.

In addition to skipping logic, strong skipping mode also automatically remembers lambdas that are inside a composable function. This fact means that you don't need a remember call to wrap a lambda function , for example one that calls a ViewModel method.

The strong skipping mode can be enabled on a Gradle module basis.

To enable it, follow these steps:

  • Open the app build.gradle.kts file.
  • Update the composeCompiler block with the following snippet:

This adds the experimentalStrongSkipping compiler argument to the Gradle module.


  • Rebuild the project.
  • Open the Task 5 screen, and then observe that the items that use structural equality are marked with an EQU icon and don't recompose when you interact with the list of items.

However, other types of items are still recomposed. You fix them in the next step.

Fix stability with annotations

As mentioned previously, with strong skipping mode enabled, a composable will skip its execution when the parameter has the same instance as in previous composition . This, however, is not true in situations where with every change a new instance of the unstable class is provided.

In your situation, the StabilityItem class is unstable because it contains an unstable LocalDateTime property.

To fix the stability of this class, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to the StabilityViewModel.kt file.
  • Locate the StabilityItem class and annotate it with @Immutable annotation:
  • Rebuild the app.
  • Navigate to the Task 5 screen and observe that none of the list items are recomposed.

This class now uses the structural equality for checking if it changed from previous composition and thus not recomposing them.

There's still the composable that refers to the date of the latest change, which keeps recomposing regardless of what you did until now.

Fix stability with the configuration file

The previous approach works well for classes that are part of your codebase. However, classes that are out of your reach, such as classes from third-party libraries or standard library classes, can't be edited.

You can enable a stability configuration file that takes classes (with possible wildcards) that will be treated as stable.

To enable this, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to the app build.gradle.kts file.
  • Add the stabilityConfigurationFile option to the composeCompiler block:
  • Sync the project with Gradle files.
  • Open the stability_config.conf file in the root folder of this project next to the README.md file.
  • Add the following:
  • Rebuild the app. If the date stays the same, the LocalDateTime class won't cause the Latest change was YYYY-MM-DD composable to recompose.

In your app, you can extend the file to contain patterns, so you don't have to write all the classes that should be treated as stable. So in your case, you can use java.time.* wildcard, which will treat all classes in the package as stable, such as Instant , LocalDateTime , ZoneId , and other classes from java time.

By following the steps, nothing on this screen recomposes except for the item that was added or interacted with, which is expected behavior.

12. Congratulations

Congratulations, you optimized the performance of a Compose app! While only showing a small portion of the performance issues that you might encounter in your app, you learned how to look at other potential problems and how to fix them.

What's next?

If you haven't generated a Baseline Profile for your app, we highly recommend doing so.

You can follow the codelab Improve app performance with Baseline Profiles . If you want more information on setting up benchmarks, see this codelab Inspect app performance with Macrobenchmark .

  • Enhancing Jetpack Compose app performance
  • Performance: System Tracing Basics
  • Debugging recomposition
  • Jetpack Compose Performance documentation
  • Write a Macrobenchmark
  • Android Jank detection with FrameTimeline

Content and code samples on this page are subject to the licenses described in the Content License . Java and OpenJDK are trademarks or registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates.

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Virgo, Horoscope Today, May 14, 2024: Ideal day for problem-solving

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