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The Complete Guide to Structured Problem Solving

When you are looking to thoroughly solve a pesky problem, structured problem solving is the way to go. Structured problem solving allows you to explore the problem, get to the heart of the issue, and develop a creative solution that finally solves the issue.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

To illustrate this example, Takashi Amano was a nature photographer and avid aquarist. He started developing art in the form of fish tanks – which he called nature aquariums. The problem was algae would grow in his tanks and ruin his art. Not deterred, Mr. Amano found a shrimp distributor who bred, small, and clear micro-shrimp which were various algae eaters. Mr. Amano ordered thousands of them and promoted them in the hobby – to the point where the shrimp are now called Amano Shrimp.

He got creative. Knowing he needed a lasting solution to his algae problem, a clear shrimp that would eat the algae and not detract from his art was perfect.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

The Basic idea of Structured Problem Solving

Professionals who solve complex problems for a living all start from the same place. They need to understand the actual problem they are solving. They ask themselves questions to get to the heart of the problem.

Usually promoting thinking with questions like what is the real problem, how can we gather data about the root problem, brainstorm solutions, test a solution and monitor it?

Why Structured Problem-Solving Works

Often, we are eager to jump into solving the first apparent problem with a variety of solutions. Why structured problem-solving works is because it forces us to slow down. By slowing down, we understand the problem first, without leaping into “fix-it” mode with preconceived notions of how the problem should be solved.

Studies have also found that having explicit techniques (methods for problem-solving) in the structured problem-solving workflow not only improves the problem-solving process but also increases the knowledge base all individuals can pull from.  Basically, using structured problem solving allows better solutions to be developed while ensuring everyone participates in sharing their own unique knowledge.

The two ideas translate into the problem-solving principles of:

  • Seek to understand before we seek to solve
  • Search early, search often

By understanding the problem inside and out, the individual, or team can make more informed decisions and generate appropriate solutions.

There are a variety of techniques to work through the process. Below are some sample ways to do structured problem solving before getting into the walk-through further down in the article.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

Multiple Ways of Structured Problem Solving

There are many techniques to perform structured problem solving, or at least get more in-depth in certain aspects of the process. Some of my favorite ones include

Pre-mortem analysis: Instead of working through a project and assessing what went wrong at the end, run through a simulation of the project to see where the project could fail before you even start. Where and why did it fail? Then brainstorm solutions to avoid those issues without creating new ones.

The Hat Technique: There are 6 colored hats, all with different roles. Whether alone or in a group, assign some time or a specific person to that role. Having a person designated to each role means that all ideas are validated through six different lenses. Plus, everyone has a designated role which helps keep people engaged, and limits feelings getting hurt since everyone is simply doing their assigned role.

PDCA Cycle: An easy way to remember the process is the PDCA cycle. Which stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act. PDCA is a high-level way to remember how the structured problem-solving process works. 

You can also use the PDCA Model to manage your personal development too !

Get the Creative Juices Flowing

I like to start all my structured problem-solving sessions with some fun at the beginning of the session to get everyone’s creative juices flowing. By taking the 5 minutes to have a little fun, it is surprising how much more creative and engaged people are with the structured problem-solving process!

Problem-solving can be a stressful process, and it can even be high-stakes with the future of the group’s work hanging in the balance. However, laughing together helps relieve stress, makes people more creative, and improves social bonding.

The New Idea: One creative thinking exercise to start your session in a fun way, the goal is to split into two groups. Each group generates two dissimilar words. Then they swap words. For instance, “bug” & “sky-diving” and “winter” and “bikinis” for the other. Then the groups must devise the best ideas for those two words. For the bugs, you could make parachute designs that are themed after a different butterfly, and for the other, you could make a winter work-out with the goal have bikini-ready bodies by the summer. Silly ideas but shows there is a solution to even the weirdest problems.

Horrible idea challenge: Think of your problem. Then have everyone compete to come up with the worst idea. The practical part is that it helps to see what not to do – plus, part of the fun is seeing how creative people can be!

Beyond the two creative ideas, there are also 13 mental models which make work easier overall as well.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

The Structured Problem Solving Process

1. define the problem statement.

The first step is defining what the real problem is. Below are some prompts to get the right decision-makers and problem-solvers sent in the right direction to tackle the challenge.

  • Is the problem many problems?
  • What requirements must a solution meet?
  • Which problem solvers should we engage?
  • What information and language should the problem statement include?
  • Tip: To engage the largest number of solvers from the widest variety of fields, a problem statement must meet the twin goals of being extremely specific but not necessarily technical.
  • What do solvers need to submit?
  • What incentive do solvers need?
  • How will solutions be evaluated, and success measured?

Problem statements are a statement of a current issue or problem. For example , Problem: Voter turnout in the southwest region of Florida has been significantly decreasing over the past decade, while other areas of the state continue to see increasing numbers of voters at the polls.

Writing one or two sentences takes the whole issue and makes it very clear what the issue is.

2. Root Cause Analysis

After getting the foundation set, an understanding of the root problem is critical. If you want to go through all the effort of structured problem solving, you might as well get to the real problem in the end.

Think of weeds in a garden. A potential solution is to mow over the weeds and they are gone. However, every few days the weeds keep coming back. That is because the root is the root issue in this scenario. You need to get the whole root system of the weed out to stop those pesky weeds in your garden.

Below are three techniques to help with Root-Cause Analysis

5 whys: When a problem occurs, drill down to its root cause by asking “Why?” five or more times. Then, when a counter-measure becomes apparent, you follow it through to prevent the issues from recurring.

Fishbone diagram: (Also called Ishikawa diagram named after Kaoru Ishikawa) is a cause-and-effect diagram that helps managers track down the reasons for imperfections, variations, defects, or failures.

Cause mapping: a cause map provides a visual explanation of why an incident occurred. It connects individual cause-and-effect relationships to reveal the system of cause within an issue.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

3. Gather Data

After analyzing the problem and getting to the root cause – you need to gather information to understand why the problem and situation are happening. Doing the research and understanding how the different forces are interacting lets you understand why the problem is happening and how the overall solution is occurring.

Below are three different methods for gathering data to understand the context and interplaying forces in the current problem.

Gemba walk: The purpose is to allow managers and leaders to observe actual work process, engage with employees, gain knowledge about the work process, and explore opportunities for continuous improvement

Process mapping: A process map is a planning and management tool that visually describes the flow of work. Allowing you to see hiccups, bottlenecks, or high-failure points in the process.

Focus groups : Asking open-ended questions to a group of individuals ranging from 6-10 people. Letting you get different perspectives on the same issue.

4. Develop Potential Solutions

The next part is the fun part. You take all the research you’ve gathered in the first three aspects and put them together to come up with a solution to solve the problem. The common way is do Brainstorming.

Harvard Business Review sites that traditional brainstorming, in groups trying to answer the question, isn’t as effective as individuals coming up with ideas on their own first. Working in a big group doesn’t work for many reasons. Working in groups encourages social loafing (coasting on other’s ideas), some members experience social anxiety (introverted members feeling self-conscious of throwing in ideas), and it focuses too much on the solutions over the problem.

The better way to brainstorm is to have everyone work on the main problems and their solutions alone, and then reconvene after twenty minutes. Then everyone shares their top one or two ideas and what features of the problem it tackles.

This method gives everyone time to think about their solutions, present their ideas, and lets all the voices be heard. Plus, all the ideas can then smashed together to come up with a solution based on everyone’s input.

Remember, the solution has to solve the core of the issue and get to the root cause. Plus, it must be feasible in terms of the money, time, and manpower allocated to the project. Use the constraints as a guide to direct the project!

5. Implement a Solution

After running through the potential solutions – pick one and trial run it. Think of the minimum viable product to get to the root cause. You won’t know if you are alleviating the problem until a potential solution is out in the field.

For example , Airbnb founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could not afford the rent for their apartment (the problem). They decided to put an air mattress in their living room and turn it into a bed and breakfast (MVP solution). The goal was to make a few bucks, but instead, they discovered the idea the connect Bed and Breakfasts to people looking for renters. They started advertising on Craiglist, then their website, and the story continues.

The point of the story is to illustrate that small tests can be done to see if you are solving the main issue! Their issue was not that someone needed to stay in their apartment for them to make rent – the issue was there was no service that easily let Bed and Breakfasts work with potential clients.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

6. Monitor for Success

Once a solution is implemented, that is not the end. You must make sure the solution works. Keeping in mind the below questions

  • Who is responsible for the solution?
  • What are the risks of implementing the solution?

Some ways to monitor for success are:

Failure mode and effect analysis: A step-by-step approach for identifying all possible failures in a design, a manufacturing process, product, or service.

Impact analysis: A detailed study of business activities, dependencies, and infrastructure. It reveals how critical products and services are delivered and examines the potential impact of a disruptive (or additive solution) event over time

Kaizen : The Japanese term for “continuous improvement”. It is a business philosophy regarding the process that continuously improves operations and involves all employees.

Illustrated Example

A often find it helpful to see someone do the process as well. Here is a great video of IDEO re-working the shopping cart.

Key Take-Aways

What sets apart okay problem solvers from great problem solvers is the ability to think in repeatable, useful frameworks.

Structured Problem Solving is a general concept used to solve challenging problems, and there are hundreds of different methods that fall underneath it.

Action Item

Think of a tough challenge you are facing at work or in your personal life. Test run your problem through the structured problem-solving process with a few of the above techniques, and see what solution you can generate to get to the root of the issue!

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benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for starters. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

Hello, I love hearing the feedback. I will write a follow-up post the structured problem solving that dives into more detail!

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

Thank you for some other fantastic article. The place else could anyone get that kind of information in such an ideal method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the search for such info.

Hello – for similar content, the perspective and ambition parts of the blog have similar content! Some posts to investigate are “A 4 Step Plan to Better Goal Setting (WOOP)” ( ) and “How to Give a Better Presentation” ( ). Let me know how your presentation goes!

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My blog covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Great blog by the way!

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McKinsey Problem Solving: Six steps to solve any problem and tell a persuasive story

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The McKinsey problem solving process is a series of mindset shifts and structured approaches to thinking about and solving challenging problems. It is a useful approach for anyone working in the knowledge and information economy and needs to communicate ideas to other people.

Over the past several years of creating StrategyU, advising an undergraduates consulting group and running workshops for clients, I have found over and over again that the principles taught on this site and in this guide are a powerful way to improve the type of work and communication you do in a business setting.

When I first set out to teach these skills to the undergraduate consulting group at my alma mater, I was still working at BCG. I was spending my day building compelling presentations, yet was at a loss for how to teach these principles to the students I would talk with at night.

Through many rounds of iteration, I was able to land on a structured process and way of framing some of these principles such that people could immediately apply them to their work.

While the “official” McKinsey problem solving process is seven steps, I have outline my own spin on things – from experience at McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group. Here are six steps that will help you solve problems like a McKinsey Consultant:

Step #1: School is over, stop worrying about “what” to make and worry about the process, or the “how”

When I reflect back on my first role at McKinsey, I realize that my biggest challenge was unlearning everything I had learned over the previous 23 years. Throughout school you are asked to do specific things. For example, you are asked to write a 5 page paper on Benjamin Franklin — double spaced, 12 font and answering two or three specific questions.

In school, to be successful you follow these rules as close as you can. However, in consulting there are no rules on the “what.” Typically the problem you are asked to solve is ambiguous and complex — exactly why they hire you. In consulting, you are taught the rules around the “how” and have to then fill in the what.

The “how” can be taught and this entire site is founded on that belief. Here are some principles to get started:

Step #2: Thinking like a consultant requires a mindset shift

There are two pre-requisites to thinking like a consultant. Without these two traits you will struggle:

  • A healthy obsession looking for a “better way” to do things
  • Being open minded to shifting ideas and other approaches

In business school, I was sitting in one class when I noticed that all my classmates were doing the same thing — everyone was coming up with reasons why something should should not be done.

As I’ve spent more time working, I’ve realized this is a common phenomenon. The more you learn, the easier it becomes to come up with reasons to support the current state of affairs — likely driven by the status quo bias — an emotional state that favors not changing things. Even the best consultants will experience this emotion, but they are good at identifying it and pushing forward.

Key point : Creating an effective and persuasive consulting like presentation requires a comfort with uncertainty combined with a slightly delusional belief that you can figure anything out.

Step #3: Define the problem and make sure you are not solving a symptom

Before doing the work, time should be spent on defining the actual problem. Too often, people are solutions focused when they think about fixing something. Let’s say a company is struggling with profitability. Someone might define the problem as “we do not have enough growth.” This is jumping ahead to solutions — the goal may be to drive more growth, but this is not the actual issue. It is a symptom of a deeper problem.

Consider the following information:

  • Costs have remained relatively constant and are actually below industry average so revenue must be the issue
  • Revenue has been increasing, but at a slowing rate
  • This company sells widgets and have had no slowdown on the number of units it has sold over the last five years
  • However, the price per widget is actually below where it was five years ago
  • There have been new entrants in the market in the last three years that have been backed by Venture Capital money and are aggressively pricing their products below costs

In a real-life project there will definitely be much more information and a team may take a full week coming up with a problem statement . Given the information above, we may come up with the following problem statement:

Problem Statement : The company is struggling to increase profitability due to decreasing prices driven by new entrants in the market. The company does not have a clear strategy to respond to the price pressure from competitors and lacks an overall product strategy to compete in this market.

Step 4: Dive in, make hypotheses and try to figure out how to “solve” the problem

Now the fun starts!

There are generally two approaches to thinking about information in a structured way and going back and forth between the two modes is what the consulting process is founded on.

First is top-down . This is what you should start with, especially for a newer “consultant.” This involves taking the problem statement and structuring an approach. This means developing multiple hypotheses — key questions you can either prove or disprove.

Given our problem statement, you may develop the following three hypotheses:

  • Company X has room to improve its pricing strategy to increase profitability
  • Company X can explore new market opportunities unlocked by new entrants
  • Company X can explore new business models or operating models due to advances in technology

As you can see, these three statements identify different areas you can research and either prove or disprove. In a consulting team, you may have a “workstream leader” for each statement.

Once you establish the structure you you may shift to the second type of analysis: a bottom-up approach . This involves doing deep research around your problem statement, testing your hypotheses, running different analysis and continuing to ask more questions. As you do the analysis, you will begin to see different patterns that may unlock new questions, change your thinking or even confirm your existing hypotheses. You may need to tweak your hypotheses and structure as you learn new information.

A project vacillates many times between these two approaches. Here is a hypothetical timeline of a project:

Strategy consulting process

Step 5: Make a slides like a consultant

The next step is taking the structure and research and turning it into a slide. When people see slides from McKinsey and BCG, they see something that is compelling and unique, but don’t really understand all the work that goes into those slides. Both companies have a healthy obsession (maybe not to some people!) with how things look, how things are structured and how they are presented.

They also don’t understand how much work is spent on telling a compelling “story.” The biggest mistake people make in the business world is mistaking showing a lot of information versus telling a compelling story. This is an easy mistake to make — especially if you are the one that did hours of analysis. It may seem important, but when it comes down to making a slide and a presentation, you end up deleting more information rather than adding. You really need to remember the following:

Data matters, but stories change hearts and minds

Here are four quick ways to improve your presentations:

Tip #1 — Format, format, format

Both McKinsey and BCG had style templates that were obsessively followed. Some key rules I like to follow:

  • Make sure all text within your slide body is the same font size (harder than you would think)
  • Do not go outside of the margins into the white space on the side
  • All titles throughout the presentation should be 2 lines or less and stay the same font size
  • Each slide should typically only make one strong point

Tip #2 — Titles are the takeaway

The title of the slide should be the key insight or takeaway and the slide area should prove the point. The below slide is an oversimplification of this:

Example of a single slide

Even in consulting, I found that people struggled with simplifying a message to one key theme per slide. If something is going to be presented live, the simpler the better. In reality, you are often giving someone presentations that they will read in depth and more information may make sense.

To go deeper, check out these 20 presentation and powerpoint tips .

Tip #3 — Have “MECE” Ideas for max persuasion

“MECE” means mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive — meaning all points listed cover the entire range of ideas while also being unique and differentiated from each other.

An extreme example would be this:

  • Slide title: There are seven continents
  • Slide content: The seven continents are North America, South America, Europe, Africa Asia, Antarctica, Australia

The list of continents provides seven distinct points that when taken together are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive . The MECE principle is not perfect — it is more of an ideal to push your logic in the right direction. Use it to continually improve and refine your story.

Applying this to a profitability problem at the highest level would look like this:

Goal: Increase profitability

2nd level: We can increase revenue or decrease costs

3rd level: We can increase revenue by selling more or increasing prices

Each level is MECE. It is almost impossible to argue against any of this (unless you are willing to commit accounting fraud!).

Tip #4 — Leveraging the Pyramid Principle

The pyramid principle is an approach popularized by Barbara Minto and essential to the structured problem solving approach I learned at McKinsey. Learning this approach has changed the way I look at any presentation since.

Here is a rough outline of how you can think about the pyramid principle as a way to structure a presentation:

pyramid principle structure

As you build a presentation, you may have three sections for each hypothesis. As you think about the overall story, the three hypothesis (and the supporting evidence) will build on each other as a “story” to answer the defined problem. There are two ways to think about doing this — using inductive or deductive reasoning:

deductive versus inductive reasoning in powerpoint arguments

If we go back to our profitability example from above, you would say that increasing profitability was the core issue we developed. Lets assume that through research we found that our three hypotheses were true. Given this, you may start to build a high level presentation around the following three points:

example of hypotheses confirmed as part of consulting problem solving

These three ideas not only are distinct but they also build on each other. Combined, they tell a story of what the company should do and how they should react. Each of these three “points” may be a separate section in the presentation followed by several pages of detailed analysis. There may also be a shorter executive summary version of 5–10 pages that gives the high level story without as much data and analysis.

Step 6: The only way to improve is to get feedback and continue to practice

Ultimately, this process is not something you will master overnight. I’ve been consulting, either working for a firm or on my own for more than 10 years and am still looking for ways to make better presentations, become more persuasive and get feedback on individual slides.

The process never ends.

The best way to improve fast is to be working on a great team . Look for people around you that do this well and ask them for feedback. The more feedback, the more iterations and more presentations you make, the better you will become. Good luck!

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll get a kick out of all the free lessons I’ve shared that go a bit deeper. Check them out here .

Do you have a toolkit for business problem solving? I created Think Like a Strategy Consultant as an online course to make the tools of strategy consultants accessible to driven professionals, executives, and consultants. This course teaches you how to synthesize information into compelling insights, structure your information in ways that help you solve problems, and develop presentations that resonate at the C-Level. Click here to learn more or if you are interested in getting started now, enroll in the self-paced version ($497) or hands-on coaching version ($997). Both versions include lifetime access and all future updates.

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The Basics of Structured Problem-Solving Methodologies: DMAIC & 8D

Topics: Minitab Engage

When it comes to solving a problem, organizations want to get to the root cause of the problem, as quickly as possible. They also want to ensure that they find the most effective solution to that problem, make sure the solution is implemented fully, and is sustained into the future so that the problem no longer occurs. The best way to do this is by implementing structured problem-solving. In this blog post, we’ll briefly cover structured problem-solving and the best improvement methodologies to achieve operational excellence. Before we dive into ways Minitab can help, let’s first cover the basics of problem-solving.


Structured problem-solving is a disciplined approach that breaks down the problem-solving process into discrete steps with clear objectives. This method enables you to tackle complex problems, while ensuring you’re resolving the right ones. It also ensures that you fully understand those problems, you've considered the reasonable solutions, and are effectively implementing and sustaining them.


A structured problem-solving methodology is a technique that consists of a series of phases that a project must pass through before it gets completed. The goal of a methodology is to highlight the intention behind solving a particular problem and offers a strategic way to resolve it. WHAT ARE THE BEST PROBLEM-SOLVING METHODOLOGIES?

That depends on the problem you’re trying to solve for your improvement initiative. The structure and discipline of completing all the steps in each methodology is more important than the specific methodology chosen. To help you easily visualize these methodologies, we’ve created the Periodic Table of Problem-Solving Methodologies. Now let’s cover two important methodologies for successful process improvement and problem prevention: DMAIC and 8D .

DMAIC Methodology

8D is known as the Eight Disciplines of problem-solving. It consists of eight steps to solve difficult, recurring, or critical problems. The methodology consists of problem-solving tools to help you identify, correct, and eliminate the source of problems within your organization. If the problem you’re trying to solve is complex and needs to be resolved quickly, 8D might be the right methodology to implement for your organization. Each methodology could be supported with a project template, where its roadmap corresponds to the set of phases in that methodology. It is a best practice to complete each step of a given methodology, before moving on to the next one.


Minitab Engage TM was built to help organizations drive innovation and improvement initiatives. What makes our solution unique is that it combines structured problem-solving methodologies with tools and dashboards to help you plan, execute, and measure your innovation initiatives! There are many problem-solving methodologies and tools to help you get started. We have the ultimate end-to-end improvement solution to help you reach innovation success.

Ready to explore structured problem-solving?

Download our free eBook to discover the top methodologies and tools to help you accelerate your innovation programs.

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A3 Thinking: A Structured Approach to Problem Solving

A3 Thinking


Also known as A3 Problem Solving.

Variants include 8D and CAPA.

A significant part of a leader’s role involves addressing problems as they arise. Various approaches and tools are available to facilitate problem-solving which is the driving force behind continuous improvement. These methods range from the advanced and more complex methodologies like Six Sigma to the simpler and more straightforward A3 thinking approach.

The power of the A3 approach lies in its systematic and structured approach to problem-solving. Although it appears to be a step-by-step process, A3 is built around the PDCA philosophy. It relies on the principle that it is much better to address the real root-cause rather than trying to find a solution. Hence, it’s important not to jump to the solution when solving a problem as it is likely to be less effective.

A3 thinking provides an effective way to bring together many of the problem-solving tools into one place. For example, techniques such as the 5 Whys and fishbone analysis can be used during the ‘Analysis’ stage to help identifying the root causes. Additionally, visual aids and graphs are highly recommended in the A3 report, as they are more effective than text in communicating ideas and providing concise project updates.

A3 thinking involves the practice of consolidating the problem, analysis, countermeasures, and action plan onto a single sheet of paper, commonly an A3-sized sheet. This brief document serves as a summary of the project at hand and is regarded as a valuable storytelling tool for project communication. Utilizing the A3 approach doesn’t require any specialized software or advanced computer skills. You may however use readily available A3 templates , or rely on basic tools such as paper, pencil and an eraser as you will need to erase and rewrite several times.

A3 Paper

One of the characteristics of the A3 approach is that it does not get into specific details. Detailed documents are usually attached to the A3 report to prevent overwhelming the reader with an excess of information.

The A3 process is typically structured in multiple stages based on the PDCA model. The primary focus is on developing understanding of the current situation and defining the desired outcome before thinking about the solution. While the exact number of stages may vary depending on the preference of the company, what truly matters is adhering to a structured approach to problem-solving.

A3 Problem Solving Models

A3 Seven Stages Model

An A3 process is often managed by an individual who should own and maintain the A3 report. This individual takes the lead in steering the process, facilitating team involvement, and preparing the A3 report with team input. One of the most common models for A3 thinking is the seven stages model which is described in the following.

A3 Seven Stages Model

1. Background – The first step is to identify the business reason for choosing this problem or opportunity. In this stage, you need to identify the gap in performance and the extent of the problem.

2. Current situation – The purpose of this stage is to document the current state of the problem. You may need to refer to the process map or go to the Gemba to truly understand the current situation.

3. Target – The purpose of this stage is to define the desired future state. Clearly identify the expected benefits from solving the problem, the scope, and the key metrics that will help measure the success of the project.

4. Analysis – The objective of this stage is to conduct an in-depth analysis of the problem and understand why it’s happening. It might involve tools like the 5 Whys and cause-and-effect analysis, as well as advanced statistical methods.

5. Countermeasures – Countermeasures are the actions to be taken to eliminate root causes or reduce their effects. The team should brainstorm and evaluate possible countermeasures based on the analysis conducted earlier.

6. Implementation Plan – To achieve the target, develop a workable plan to implement the countermeasures. Gantt charts are great ways to manage implementation plans very simply and easily. Once the action plan is finalized, the team should begin working on the activities needed to implement the countermeasures.

7. Follow-up – The final stage involves evaluating the implementation of the plan and the results achieved. Follow-up actions are important to ensure the benefits extend beyond the project’s completion.

A3 Template Example

A3 thinking is considered to be the practical form of the PDCA model.

benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

There are many online templates that can be used to manage your problem-solving efforts. One of the simplest and most straightforward ways is to use this A3 problem solving template .

Wrapping Up

A3 thinking represents a logical and structured approach for problem solving and continuous improvement. This approach can be used for most kinds of problems and in any part of the business. Originating from the Toyota Production System (TPS), it has been adopted by many Lean organizations around the world.

A3 thinking not only provides a systematic approach for problem-solving. The development of a continuous improvement culture is at the core of A3 thinking. It has become one of the most popular Lean tools today where people and teams work together to solve problems, share results and learn from each other.

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Continuous Improvement blog Problem Solving: A Structured Approach

"The problems of the world cannot be solved by thinking the same way we thought when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Problem solving is a skill that is essential for success in both personal and professional life. It is the ability to identify and articulate problems, gather information, generate solutions, and implement those solutions effectively.

There are many different approaches to problem solving, but one of the most effective is the 8-step problem-solving process. This process is structured and systematic, which helps to ensure that problems are solved efficiently and effectively.

The 8 steps of the problem-solving process are:

Define the problem

This is the first and most important step in the problem-solving process. If you do not clearly define the problem, you'll have a hard time solving it.

So how do you define a problem? Here are a few tips:

  • be specific - do not just say, "the application process lead time is too long."; instead, say something like "the current lead time for the application process is 40 working days”
  • use data - if you have data, use it to support your definition of the problem. For example, you could say "the average process lead time has increased by 20% in the past 6 month."
  • be objective - do not let your emotions get in the way of defining the problem. For example, don't say "Our lead time is terrible." Instead, say something like "the process lead time is not meeting our customers’ expectations."

Once you've defined the problem, you'll have a much better understanding of what you need to solve. You'll also be able to narrow down the scope of the problem and identify the root cause.

Here is an example of a well-defined problem statement:

The application process lead time has increased by 20% on average to 40 days, in the past 6 months.

This problem statement is specific, uses data, and is objective. It also includes a measure, which is the 20% average increase in lead time. This measure will help to gauge the effectiveness of the final solution. Your problem statement should always include some sort of measure but no suggested solution!

Break down the problem

Once the problem has been defined, you can break it down into smaller, more manageable problems. This will make it easier to identify the root cause of the problem. For example, if the problem is that a process is not producing the desired output, you could break the problem down into the following smaller problems:

  • the person in the process is not properly trained.
  • the person doing the process is not processing the input correctly.

Set a target

What is the desired outcome of the problem-solving process? What are the specific goals that need to be achieved? It is important to set a clear target so that you know when the problem has been solved. For example, the target for the process problem could be to have the process producing the desired output within 24 hours.

Analyse the root cause

The root cause of the problem is the underlying issue that is causing the problem to occur. It is important to identify the root cause so that it can be addressed effectively. Several techniques can be used to analyse the root cause of a problem, such as the 5 Whys, Fishbone diagrams, and Pareto charts.

A fishbone diagram with six sections branching off that say 'Key Topic' and a head section that says 'Problem Statement'

Develop Countermeasures

Once the root cause of the problem has been identified, countermeasures can be developed to address it. Countermeasures are specific actions that can be taken to prevent the problem from occurring again. For example, the countermeasures for a process problem could include:

  • create Standard Operating Procedures and the “best-known way” of doing the process”
  • retraining everyone in the new way of working
  • create a control plan to ensure that the input information is being processed correctly 100% of the time

Implement countermeasures

The countermeasures that have been developed need to be implemented. This may involve making changes to processes, procedures, or training. It is important to monitor the implementation of the countermeasures to ensure that they are effective.

Evaluate the results

Once the countermeasures have been implemented, it is important to evaluate the results. Did the countermeasures solve the problem? If not, further action may be needed. For example, if the process problem has not been solved, you may need to identify a new root cause and develop new countermeasures.

Standardise and share lessons learned

Once the problem has been solved, it is important to standardise the solution so that it can be used to prevent the problem from occurring again. The lessons learned from the problem-solving process should also be shared so that others can benefit from them. For example, you could create a standard operating procedure for the new way of working or develop a training program for the staff involved.

By following these steps, you can solve problems more effectively and efficiently.

Here are some additional tips for problem-solving:

  • be curious - be willing to investigate problems with an open mind and a desire to learn
  • be collaborative - involve others in the problem-solving process to get different perspectives and ideas
  • use data and evidence - make decisions about solutions based on data and evidence
  • be persistent - do not give up on a problem until you have found a solution that works
  • be optimistic - believe that you can solve the problem and do not be afraid to take risks

By following these tips, you can improve your problem-solving skills and become more effective in your personal and professional life.

So, what are you waiting for? Start solving some problems today. 

Graham Ross smiling at the camera

28 July 2023

Graham Ross, Continuous Improvement Manager

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Mar 01, 2022

A Structured Approach to Problem Solving

In a world of growing complexity, effective problem-solving skills are essential for business strategists, managers, and leaders. According to Nelson Repenning, Faculty Director in the Business Process Design for Strategic Management online short course from the MIT Sloan School of Management, the inability to come up with a clear problem formulation is probably the most common failure mode. The field of Business Process Design addresses the need for a structured approach to problem solving, and has the ability to fulfil an important role in business analytics and management decision-making processes. Watch the video to find out more.

So, one of the most critical skills in implementing dynamic work design, perhaps the most foundational skill, is formulating good problem statements. The inability to come up with a clear problem formulation is probably the most common failure mode.

Why is this so important? Our brains are really composed of two basic systems. There’s the automatic system and there’s the conscious system, and we rely primarily on the automatic system most of the day. The automatic system relies primarily on our past experience for supplying answers to the problems and challenges we face during the day. Good problem formulation is really just a trick that we use to make sure that people take a detour into that conscious processing mode and make sure we use that kind of high-powered parts of our brains to tackle the big challenges that we face in our organizations and hopefully increase the chance that we’re going to get an innovative or break-through solution.

Three mistakes to avoid when creating a problem statement

A good problem statement is a key tool to get all those different disciplines unified and focus on what matters.

1. Skipping the problem statement

The first failure mode is, in many cases, people just skip it. And you see this in established organizations where we have intact teams. “Hey, we’ve all been working together for years, we know what the problem is. We don’t need to take the time to write it down. Let’s just get going.”

In our experience, there’s rarely as much commonality and cohesion across team members as to what they’re doing as they might believe. Not surprisingly, marketing people tend to see marketing problems, operations people tend to see operations problems, finance people tend to see finance problems.

2. Identifying the solution instead of the problem

The second failure mode is that, very often, people write down a problem statement but it’s not really a problem statement; it’s actually just a diagnosis or a solution in disguise. So, a typical failure mode here will sound like, “The problem is we’re not doing my preferred solution.”

Probably the biggest challenge you’ll face in formulating good problem statements is: make sure that you carefully peel apart what’s the problem we’re trying to solve versus what is our proposed solution. If we separate those two pieces, we have a much better chance of coming up with something that is innovative.

3. The problem statement is too vague

The third failure mode is that very often people are not sufficiently precise about what is happening in their problem statement. So, the problem statement here might look like, “We have a morale problem in this organization”, or, “We need to upgrade our brand.”

That will catalyze a lot of activity, but that activity will typically be pretty unfocused and often is wasteful. Much better to pick specific problems, go after them quickly, and start to get a sequence of projects that will make your organization more efficient and more effective.

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benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

A Structured Approach to Problem Solving

December 22, 2015 by Connie Siu - CDC Leave a Comment


There are many ways to tackle a problem. There are the good as well as the mediocre approaches. Complex problems call for a structured approach. There are many reasons why a structured approach delivers better results:

  • A systematic review of issues provides consistency in sorting out causes
  • The planned assessment engages people who need to be involved
  • A disciplined approach ensures that essential guidelines and rules are followed
  • The steps offer a way to replicate success for similar problems in other areas

There are five components to the framework for structured problem solving.

  • Understand the problem. This is the most important step in assessing the extent of the problem. By identifying the symptoms, root causes, impacts, and significance, you paint a picture on relevance and why the company should care. Without the understanding, it is difficult to assess how much effort the company should devote to solve the problem.
  • Determine the solution requirements. The requirements establish the criteria for the solution. Subject to the availability of resources, the depth of a solution varies the level of automation and how eloquent it performs the task. The segregation of the must-haves and nice-to-haves provide choices when determining where to invest the capital.
  • Articulate options. The options must satisfy the core requirements and address the most significant concerns. Keep an open mind in developing the options. Consult the customers, partners, and subject matter experts for an objective and impartial view on how things could be done better.
  • Evaluate options. In order to do a proper evaluation of the options, there needs to be a well-defined list of assessment criteria. This list comprises all the factors that would be considered in comparing the options. These factors include capital investment, effort, return on investment, timeliness, and others that tie to the solution requirements. Often, weights are assigned to reach the relative importance.
  • Select a solution. The final choice of a solution is made when the proper evaluation is complete. It is important to note that both the quantitative and the qualitative analyses need to be considered. Regulatory requirements that must be met would take priority. The decision maker needs to consider all the pertinent information and select a solution best suited for the problem.

A structured problem-solving approach places the focus on facts, issues, and solutions. This minimizes the tendency to play politics and coercion for support. It also promotes consistency when comparing alternatives in across the company.

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Problem Structuring Methods: A Review of Advances Over the Last Decade

  • Review Article
  • Published: 08 March 2021
  • Volume 35 , pages 55–88, ( 2022 )

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benefits of adopting a structured approach to problem solving

  • Alexandre de A. Gomes Júnior   ORCID: 1 &
  • Vanessa B. Schramm   ORCID: 1  

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The Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs) are a set of interactive and participatory modeling approaches for dealing with unstructured complex problems, which are characterized by the existence of multiple actors, with differing perspectives and conflicting interests, trying to identify alternatives for solving a problematic situation in an environment with uncertainties. In this paper, we provide a literature review about PSMs over the last decade (2010-2020), focusing on verifying the distribution of papers according to year, journals, countries, and authors; to identify the most frequent PSMs and areas of application; and to present methodological and theoretical advances, and emerging topics. The content analysis technique was used to analyze the papers. From 2015 on there was a significant increase in the number of studies that address the PSMs and the years 2018 and 2019 concentrate around one-third of the number of papers. Most of the papers present applications of PSM in different areas that were classified into five categories: business management; environmental management; healthcare sector; social issues; and other areas. Regardless of the application area, the Soft System Methodology (SSM) is the most frequently used PSM and a discussion is provoked about this finding. The paper also presents the theoretical and methodological advances and emerging topics in this discipline.

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Technique 6.1: Structured Problem Solving

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As we have mentioned, the Evolve Loop defines and encompasses the Solve Loop. The structured problem solving process puts some context around the practices of the Solve Loop. The Solve Loop is not intended to be a linear or sequential model. The practices operate as independent entities, and they are used as needed in responding to requests. The structured problem solving process provides direction on how to use the Solve Loop practices in an effective way.

In some respects, problem solving is an art. However, we have found that a little bit of structure in the problem solving process can help improve the outcome. The structure of the KCS article also helps reinforce an effective approach to problem solving.

Consider a crime scene: the first thing the police do when a crime is reported is to preserve and record the situation. The first officers to arrive on the scene are trained to secure the area; they mark the location of the evidence and bodies and take pictures. When the detective shows up to solve the crime, they first seek to understand the situation, then begin to ask clarifying questions, and then eventually go off to do research.

The structured problem solving process involves application of the four practices in the Solve Loop. It helps the responders collect, organize, and analyze the information used in solving the issue. Note that there are different skills used in different steps in the problem solving process, and, as a result, different responders or collaborators may be involved in each step.

Having explicit techniques in the workflow not only improves the problem solving process, but also creates a KCS article as a by-product of the problem solving process. The structured problem solving process in KCS includes two simple, yet powerful, concepts:

  • Seek to understand before we seek to solve (a Core Concept)
  • Search early, search often (a Solve Loop technique)

First, we seek to understand the situation in the requestor's context, and we capture it to preserve it. Then we seek to understand what we collectively know about the issue (search the knowledge base). These concepts are not unique to KCS; Charles Kepner and Benjamin Tregoe outline these same problem-solving methodologies in The Rational Manager , as does Stephen R. Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People .

Structured Problem Solving Model

Searching will sometimes result in finding articles that describe similar situations. While perhaps not perfect for our situation, articles about similar issues can provide additional insight or trigger qualifying questions that we had not thought of. This complements what we know about analyzing this kind of issue. If an existing article is not found after refining our search a few times, we start the diagnostic  process. We tap into our problem solving experience and use whatever tools are relevant. We continue to ask clarifying questions. As we build a richer understanding of the issue, we check the knowledge base frequently. If we do not find anything pertinent to the situation in the knowledge base, and we cannot resolve the problem, we then collaborate with others or escalate the issue for more additional  research .

Different Skills at Different Points

Managing the Conversation

We are seeing better integration of the various systems the responders use to resolve issues. However, if systems are not integrated and we have to use multiple systems and screens to handle issues, this section is relevant.  In environments where we need to use multiple applications to get the job done - for example, a case or incident management system that keeps track of the events, and a separate knowledge management system that houses the KCS article - it's helpful to design the KCS workflow to manage the conversation in order to minimize the need to jump back and forth between systems.

Deal with the administrative elements at the beginning (contact initiation) and end of each contact (wrap up) - not interspersed throughout the resolution process. This approach will allow focus on the objective of problem solving.

Enabling Collaboration

Problem solving is a collaborative process.  Ask any responder what they do when they realize they are working on something new or unfamiliar and they will tell you they reach out to their peers: they collaborate.  All too often they do it i n spite of the traditional processes and escalation rules. What if our process and infrastructure facilitated collaboration instead of inhibited it?

Support Analysts have collaborated for years using tools like email and instant messenger or just asking others nearby: the "prairie dog" support model (over the cubicle wall). These are helpful but limited in their effectiveness. We are seeing some significant infrastructure improvements integrated into the responder user interface that facilitate collaboration.

The opportunity to improve the effectiveness of collaboration lies in our ability to know things like availability, who knows what, and who is interested in what.  Effective collaboration, or what we call Intelligent Swarming, is a function of relevance. By relevance we mean that for a given issue, we want to bring together the best resources we have (people and/or content) to solve the issue.  To accomplish this we have to know something about the issue and something about our resources, content, and people. Earlier versions of KCS focused on capturing the collective experience of the organization in a KCS article (content). What is emerging is the idea of people profiles that capture both the experiences and interests of the people.

Just as a search gives us access to the past experience of others through the KCS article, we could improve the relevance of collaboration by providing access to the people profiles.  Where KCS helps connect people to content or knowledge for known issues, Intelligent Swarming helps connect people to people for new issues. 

The Consortium members have been working for some time to bring the concept of Intelligent Swarming to operational reality.  An increasing number of members have moved their organizations from an escalation-based model to a collaboration-based model. They are realizing amazing benefits.  For more information, see the Intelligent Swarming initiative on the Consortium web site.

We have learned some things from skills-based routing. Most organizations that have done it report mediocre results. The issue is that if the profiles are detailed enough to be helpful in getting an issue to the right person, they are difficult to create. If they are created, the dynamics of the environment make them impossible to maintain. On the other hand, if the skills profiles are at the level of detail where they are creatable and maintainable, they are not specific enough to be very accurate in routing.

We have come to the conclusion that the people profiles must be largely programmatic or maintained by the system and tunable by the people in order to reflect interests. The experiences of a Support Analyst, or any responder, change on a week-to-week basis.

Some operational examples of enabling collaboration:

  • Simple version - launch instant messenger (without leaving the problem solving environment - see the prototype user interface on the next page)
  • Sophisticated version - finds relevant people based on the information captured in the incident or WIP article
  • People finder capabilities
  • Directed swarm - a team of people triage all incoming issues or a team of people work on any reported severity 1 issues. This takes the KCS concept of collective ownership of knowledge and applies it to incidents. A different view on incident ownership: distinguish ownership of response from ownership to solve. An individual is responsible to respond to the customer but the team owns resolution of the issue. ( See the BMC case study .)
  • Enabling visibility to all open incidents and filters that allow responders to see the incidents they might be able to solve or assist with. This enables an opt-in model; people choose to help.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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    By the end of this course, you will be able to: 1. Explain the different stages of a data science project 2. Discuss some of the tools and techniques used in data science. 3. Apply structured thinking to solving problems and avoid the common traps while doing so 4. Apply human-centric design in problem-solving.

  11. Taking a structured approach to problem management

    Simply put, a structured approach leads to better results. For example, a colleague of mine assessed two teams, one using one of the standard frameworks and one that did not provide any particular method for its problem solving teams. The structured approach averaged less than four days to reach a verified root cause or causes, while the other ...

  12. How to Master Structured Problem Analysis: A Guide

    Define the problem. 2. Analyze the problem. Be the first to add your personal experience. 3. Generate solutions. 4. Evaluate solutions. Be the first to add your personal experience.

  13. Problem Solving: A Structured Approach

    Problem solving is a skill that is essential for success in both personal and professional life. It is the ability to identify and articulate problems, gather information, generate solutions, and implement those solutions effectively. There are many different approaches to problem solving, but one of the most effective is the 8-step problem ...

  14. A Structured Approach to Problem Solving

    2. Identifying the solution instead of the problem. The second failure mode is that, very often, people write down a problem statement but it's not really a problem statement; it's actually just a diagnosis or a solution in disguise. So, a typical failure mode here will sound like, "The problem is we're not doing my preferred solution.".

  15. A Structured Approach to Problem Solving

    A disciplined approach ensures that essential guidelines and rules are followed. The steps offer a way to replicate success for similar problems in other areas. There are five components to the framework for structured problem solving. Understand the problem. This is the most important step in assessing the extent of the problem.

  16. Problem-Solving Methods

    The problem-solving process benefits from a systematic, structured approach, rather than knee-jerk reactions. It can sometimes be good to immediately embark on an "obvious" solution without actually fully exploring the current situation, or even without stopping to think about the goals and the possible range of solutions.

  17. Impact of Structured Thinking on Problem-Solving

    When faced with complex business challenges, your approach to problem-solving can significantly influence the outcome. Structured thinking, a methodical way of breaking down problems into ...

  18. Problem Structuring Methods: A Review of Advances Over the ...

    The Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs) are a set of interactive and participatory modeling approaches for dealing with unstructured complex problems, which are characterized by the existence of multiple actors, with differing perspectives and conflicting interests, trying to identify alternatives for solving a problematic situation in an environment with uncertainties. In this paper, we ...

  19. Technique 6.1: Structured Problem Solving

    The structured problem solving process in KCS includes two simple, yet powerful, concepts: Seek to understand before we seek to solve (a Core Concept) Search early, search often (a Solve Loop technique) First, we seek to understand the situation in the requestor's context, and we capture it to preserve it. Then we seek to understand what we ...

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

    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.

  21. An Evidence-Based Strategy for Problem Solving

    The connection between past problems that have been solved successfully, the subject knowledge, the current problem to be solved, and the problem solving process is described. "Problems" are ...

  22. A structured approach to problem solving at the introduction level in

    Problem solving is a task which is basic to many every day situations. Generally, people are not fully aware of the thought processes which enter into the solution of their particular situation. A problem presents itself and the solution, if determined, is implemented. Humans are able to solve problems in a relatively informal manner.

  23. 12 Approaches To Problem-Solving for Every Situation

    Here are the seven steps of the rational approach: Define the problem. Identify possible causes. Brainstorm options to solve the problem. Select an option. Create an implementation plan. Execute the plan and monitor the results. Evaluate the solution. Read more: Effective Problem Solving Steps in the Workplace.

  24. Structured problem solving: combined approach using 8d and six sigma

    The current research study aimed to explore the utility of selected problem-solving tools and techniques in root-cause analysis to demonstrate their practical application. An experimental research design adopting a positivist empirical approach with a deductive strategy was followed to assess the effectiveness of a combined (8D & Six Sigma) problem-solving approach in reducing a high defects ...