4 Essential Problem-Solving Techniques

Whether you are dealing with personal concerns or business practicalities, problem-solving is a vital skill. Without it, situations are unlikely to be brought to a happy conclusion without considerable assistance by other people. One technique worth considering is to use a fishbone diagram template to quickly list the possible causes of the difficulties or ideas for solutions to try. The article below covers this and other essential techniques that assist with problem-solving.


1.     Use a Fishbone Diagram to Develop Solutions

Look at different methods to solving particularly intractable problems. Avoid sticking to just the tried-and-true methods without being open to other approaches. For instance, using a fishbone diagram provides an interesting way to brainstorm what may solve the issue. Each major rib of these types of diagrams can represent a cause of the problem. Once fleshed out and clarified, it becomes easier to consider likely solutions.

A second diagram can be utilized to examine the different approaches to resolving the issue. Each rib can indicate one department finding a solution, with sub-branches listing individual solutions. Using this kind of visual format gets ideas out of the head and onto paper, so to speak. Once onto a diagram, everyone on the team can visualize the problem better. It’s highly effective for problem-solving.

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2.     Does Knowing the Root Cause Help?

Sometimes, knowing the root cause of why something occurred can provide answers regarding how to reverse it or resolve it. Other times, it is less important or irrelevant to solving it. For example, when a customer emails with a complaint that something isn’t working for them, fixing it may simply need clarity on what action is required to do so. Yet when a problem is more complex, then figuring out how it happened can provide a useful place to start resolving it.

3.     Break Down the Problem to Component Parts

With complicated problems, they may overlap into various departments and areas. This can make them some of the more difficult ones to resolve. For instance, a product may be prone to a higher failure rate than is acceptable to the company. However, when you increase the product quality, the production cost rises and the profit per unit will decline sharply. At a certain point, the product may not be worth keeping in production if there are other fast-growing ones. Before shuttering production on a product line, look at all ways around the issue to find better solutions.

4.     Hypothesis to Reality

Develop multiple hypotheses around a problem, why it may be happening, and how to resolve it. Get several people involved to come up with fresh ideas that perhaps haven’t been thought of before. Look at all the reasons that it could be happening and, if so, how best to address them. Then test each hypothesis from the most likely to the least likely. This is often used in the medical field to troubleshoot a confusing medical malady. It helps in determining which hypothesis matches reality.

Once the correct conclusion is arrived at, creating a plan of action becomes less prone to error.

Problem-solving can be a simple matter or convoluted depending on the issue concerned. Therefore, it pays to be flexible in finding the right approach to resolving it.

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