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How You Can Solve All Your Problems

How You Can Solve All Your Problems

Not too long ago, I had attended a course for business analysis for work. During this course many useful methods and frameworks were covered. One that stood out for me was the reminder of the problem-solving model. All of us are constantly faced with problems, in both our personal and professional lives. When you are in a crisis, it can be very helpful to take a step back and use an approach to guide you through it. Well, I have just that for you today. I hope this is as helpful for you as it has been for me.

The problem solving model

The problem solving model (Isaken and Treffinger, 1985) is a framework that enables you in understanding problems and developing creative solutions. The framework also emphasizes on investigation and analysis, rather than (a premature) solution finding. A common pitfall is that we that with finding ideas and solutions for what we think the problem is. However, chances are that you are solving the wrong problem or only a small aspect of the problem. You need to have a full picture and deeper analysis of the problem, if you really want to solve the problem fully, effectively, and efficiently.

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What is great about the problem solving model is that there are basically two phases. One where you focus on what is actually the problem (the first three) and another on developing solutions (the second three). These are the different steps in the framework: 

1.     Mess finding: First you should understand the complexity of the problem situation. You can do this with multiple techniques that include the rich picture diagram, fishbone diagram, and mind map.

2.     Data finding: Once you have found your mess, it is important to analyse it and separate fact from opinion. This is the moment to obtain your quantitative data. How often do you hear that something is a critical problem as it occurs “often”? How often is often? You want to go for the 80/20 principle, if not in the scope concerned at least in the revenue that could be at risk or other risks concerned. In order to be efficient and effective, you need to have the facts and data straight. That way you will also be able to measure whether your solution is indeed covering the needs.

3.     Problem finding: As I mentioned, you want to solve the right problem. By taking your results from the mess and data finding, you will be able to pin point the right problem to solve. This is the key to solving all of your problems, knowing what they are! Nobody wants to work on solutions and implement them, only to find out that they were not conclusive and there are remains of the problem situation.

4.     Idea finding: This is where the brainstorming comes in. Generating as many ideas that could possibly serve as a solution to your problem. Liona has written an excellent blog on ways to think outside the box, which you can read here.

5.     Solution finding: Now that you have all your ideas that could potentially serve as your solution, the time comes to evaluate them and focus on those solutions with the most potential. A good and very easy way to do this is of course a cost-benefit analysis, where you basically weigh the pro’s and cons. For instance, looking at the financial aspect, also in terms of cost of delay. Meaning that you should maybe consider the implementation time.

6.     Acceptance finding: Once you have your solution in mind, you need to find acceptance for your solution. Thinking that all solutions are perfect for everyone and also clear for everyone to see is a utopia. In your personal life, even you yourself, your partner or a friend, may need some convincing that this is indeed the way to go.  

Are you ready to use this framework in your personal and professional lives? Let us know using the comment section below!

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