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Nine essential problem solving tools: The ultimate guide to finding a solution

October 26, 2023 by MindManager Blog

Problem solving may unfold differently depending on the industry, or even the department you work in. However, most agree that before you can fix any issue, you need to be clear on what it is, why it’s happening, and what your ideal long-term solution will achieve.

Understanding both the nature and the cause of a problem is the only way to figure out which actions will help you resolve it.

Given that most problem-solving processes are part inspiration and part perspiration, you’ll be more successful if you can reach for a problem solving tool that facilitates collaboration, encourages creative thinking, and makes it easier to implement the fix you devise.

The problem solving tools include three unique categories: problem solving diagrams, problem solving mind maps, and problem solving software solutions.

They include:

  • Fishbone diagrams
  • Strategy maps
  • Mental maps
  • Concept maps
  • Layered process audit software
  • Charting software
  • MindManager

In this article, we’ve put together a roundup of versatile problem solving tools and software to help you and your team map out and repair workplace issues as efficiently as possible.

Let’s get started!

Problem solving diagrams

Mapping your way out of a problem is the simplest way to see where you are, and where you need to end up.

Not only do visual problem maps let you plot the most efficient route from Point A (dysfunctional situation) to Point B (flawless process), problem mapping diagrams make it easier to see:

  • The root cause of a dilemma.
  • The steps, resources, and personnel associated with each possible solution.
  • The least time-consuming, most cost-effective options.

A visual problem solving process help to solidify understanding. Furthermore, it’s a great way for you and your team to transform abstract ideas into a practical, reconstructive plan.

Here are three examples of common problem mapping diagrams you can try with your team:

1. Fishbone diagrams

Fishbone diagrams are a common problem solving tool so-named because, once complete, they resemble the skeleton of a fish.

With the possible root causes of an issue (the ribs) branching off from either side of a spine line attached to the head (the problem), dynamic fishbone diagrams let you:

  • Lay out a related set of possible reasons for an existing problem
  • Investigate each possibility by breaking it out into sub-causes
  • See how contributing factors relate to one another

MindManager Fishbone Diagram 1

Fishbone diagrams are also known as cause and effect or Ishikawa diagrams.

2. Flowcharts

A flowchart is an easy-to-understand diagram with a variety of applications. But you can use it to outline and examine how the steps of a flawed process connect.

Flowchart | MindManager

Made up of a few simple symbols linked with arrows indicating workflow direction, flowcharts clearly illustrate what happens at each stage of a process – and how each event impacts other events and decisions.

3. Strategy maps

Frequently used as a strategic planning tool, strategy maps also work well as problem mapping diagrams. Based on a hierarchal system, thoughts and ideas can be arranged on a single page to flesh out a potential resolution.

Strategy Toolkit MindManager 2018

Once you’ve got a few tactics you feel are worth exploring as possible ways to overcome a challenge, a strategy map will help you establish the best route to your problem-solving goal.

Problem solving mind maps

Problem solving mind maps are especially valuable in visualization. Because they facilitate the brainstorming process that plays a key role in both root cause analysis and the identification of potential solutions, they help make problems more solvable.

Mind maps are diagrams that represent your thinking. Since many people struggle taking or working with hand-written or typed notes, mind maps were designed to let you lay out and structure your thoughts visually so you can play with ideas, concepts, and solutions the same way your brain does.

By starting with a single notion that branches out into greater detail, problem solving mind maps make it easy to:

  • Explain unfamiliar problems or processes in less time
  • Share and elaborate on novel ideas
  • Achieve better group comprehension that can lead to more effective solutions

Mind maps are a valuable problem solving tool because they’re geared toward bringing out the flexible thinking that creative solutions require. Here are three types of problem solving mind maps you can use to facilitate the brainstorming process.

4. Mental maps

A mental map helps you get your thoughts about what might be causing a workplace issue out of your head and onto a shared digital space.

Mental Map | MindManager Blog

Because mental maps mirror the way our brains take in and analyze new information, using them to describe your theories visually will help you and your team work through and test those thought models.

5. Idea maps

Mental Map | MindManager Blog

Idea maps let you take advantage of a wide assortment of colors and images to lay down and organize your scattered thought process. Idea maps are ideal brainstorming tools because they allow you to present and explore ideas about the best way to solve a problem collaboratively, and with a shared sense of enthusiasm for outside-the-box thinking.

6. Concept maps

Concept maps are one of the best ways to shape your thoughts around a potential solution because they let you create interlinked, visual representations of intricate concepts.

Concept Map | MindManager Blog

By laying out your suggested problem-solving process digitally – and using lines to form and define relationship connections – your group will be able to see how each piece of the solution puzzle connects with another.

Problem solving software solutions

Problem solving software is the best way to take advantage of multiple problem solving tools in one platform. While some software programs are geared toward specific industries or processes – like manufacturing or customer relationship management, for example – others, like MindManager , are purpose-built to work across multiple trades, departments, and teams.

Here are three problem-solving software examples.

7. Layered process audit software

Layered process audits (LPAs) help companies oversee production processes and keep an eye on the cost and quality of the goods they create. Dedicated LPA software makes problem solving easier for manufacturers because it helps them see where costly leaks are occurring and allows all levels of management to get involved in repairing those leaks.

8. Charting software

Charting software comes in all shapes and sizes to fit a variety of business sectors. Pareto charts, for example, combine bar charts with line graphs so companies can compare different problems or contributing factors to determine their frequency, cost, and significance. Charting software is often used in marketing, where a variety of bar charts and X-Y axis diagrams make it possible to display and examine competitor profiles, customer segmentation, and sales trends.

9. MindManager

No matter where you work, or what your problem-solving role looks like, MindManager is a problem solving software that will make your team more productive in figuring out why a process, plan, or project isn’t working the way it should.

Once you know why an obstruction, shortfall, or difficulty exists, you can use MindManager’s wide range of brainstorming and problem mapping diagrams to:

  • Find the most promising way to correct the situation
  • Activate your chosen solution, and
  • Conduct regular checks to make sure your repair work is sustainable

MindManager is the ultimate problem solving software.

Not only is it versatile enough to use as your go-to system for puzzling out all types of workplace problems, MindManager’s built-in forecasting tools, timeline charts, and warning indicators let you plan, implement, and monitor your solutions.

By allowing your group to work together more effectively to break down problems, uncover solutions, and rebuild processes and workflows, MindManager’s versatile collection of problem solving tools will help make everyone on your team a more efficient problem solver.

Download a free trial today to get started!

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problem solving techniques chart

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MindManager® helps individuals, teams, and enterprises bring greater clarity and structure to plans, projects, and processes. It provides visual productivity tools and mind mapping software to help take you and your organization to where you want to be.

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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!

problem solving techniques chart

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!

problem solving techniques chart

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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  • What Is a Fishbone Diagram? | Templates & Examples

What Is a Fishbone Diagram? | Templates & Examples

Published on January 2, 2023 by Tegan George . Revised on January 29, 2024.

A fishbone diagram is a problem-solving approach that uses a fish-shaped diagram to model possible root causes of problems and troubleshoot possible solutions. It is also called an Ishikawa diagram, after its creator, Kaoru Ishikawa, as well as a herringbone diagram or cause-and-effect diagram.

Fishbone diagrams are often used in root cause analysis , to troubleshoot issues in quality management or product development. They are also used in the fields of nursing and healthcare, or as a brainstorming and mind-mapping technique many students find helpful.

Table of contents

How to make a fishbone diagram, fishbone diagram templates, fishbone diagram examples, advantages and disadvantages of fishbone diagrams, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about fishbone diagrams.

A fishbone diagram is easy to draw, or you can use a template for an online version.

  • Your fishbone diagram starts out with an issue or problem. This is the “head” of the fish, summarized in a few words or a small phrase.
  • Next, draw a long arrow, which serves as the fish’s backbone.
  • From here, you’ll draw the first “bones” directly from the backbone, in the shape of small diagonal lines going right-to-left. These represent the most likely or overarching causes of your problem.
  • Branching off from each of these first bones, create smaller bones containing contributing information and necessary detail.
  • When finished, your fishbone diagram should give you a wide-view idea of what the root causes of the issue you’re facing could be, allowing you to rank them or choose which could be most plausible.

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problem solving techniques chart

There are no built-in fishbone diagram templates in Microsoft programs, but we’ve made a few free ones for you to use that you can download below. Alternatively, you can make one yourself using the following steps:

  • In a fresh document, go to Insert > Shapes
  • Draw a long arrow from left to right, and add a text box on the right-hand side. These serve as the backbone and the head of the fish.
  • Next, add lines jutting diagonally from the backbone. These serve as the ribs, or the contributing factors to the main problem.
  • Next, add horizontal lines jutting from each central line. These serve as the potential causes of the problem.

Lastly, add text boxes to label each function.

You can try your hand at filling one in yourself using the various blank fishbone diagram templates below, in the following formats:

Fishbone diagram template Excel

Download our free Excel template below!

fishbone-template-excel

Fishbone diagram template Word

Download our free Word template below!

fishbone-template-word

Fishbone diagram template PowerPoint

Download our free PowerPoint template below!

fishbone-template-powerpoint

Fishbone diagrams are used in a variety of settings, both academic and professional. They are particularly popular in healthcare settings, particularly nursing, or in group brainstorm study sessions. In the business world, they are an often-used tool for quality assurance or human resources professionals.

Fishbone diagram example #1: Climate change

Let’s start with an everyday example: what are the main causes of climate change?

Fishbone Diagram example

Fishbone diagram example #2: Healthcare and nursing

Fishbone diagrams are often used in nursing and healthcare to diagnose patients with unclear symptoms, or to streamline processes or fix ongoing problems. For example: why have surveys shown a decrease in patient satisfaction?

Fishbone Diagram example

Fishbone diagram example #3: Quality assurance

QA professionals also use fishbone diagrams to troubleshoot usability issues, such as: why is the website down?

Fishbone Diagram example

Fishbone diagram example #4: HR

Lastly, an HR example: why are employees leaving the company?

Fishbone Diagram example

Fishbone diagrams come with advantages and disadvantages.

  • Great tool for brainstorming and mind-mapping, either individually or in a group project.
  • Can help identify causal relationships and clarify relationships between variables .
  • Constant iteration of “why” questions really drills down to root problems and elegantly simplifies even complex issues.

Disadvantages

  • Can lead to incorrect or inconsistent conclusions if the wrong assumptions are made about root causes or the wrong variables are prioritized.
  • Fishbone diagrams are best suited to short phrases or simple ideas—they can get cluttered and confusing easily.
  • Best used in the exploratory research phase, since they cannot provide true answers, only suggestions.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Fishbone diagrams have a few different names that are used interchangeably, including herringbone diagram, cause-and-effect diagram, and Ishikawa diagram.

These are all ways to refer to the same thing– a problem-solving approach that uses a fish-shaped diagram to model possible root causes of problems and troubleshoot solutions.

Fishbone diagrams (also called herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, and Ishikawa diagrams) are most popular in fields of quality management. They are also commonly used in nursing and healthcare, or as a brainstorming technique for students.

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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."

problem solving techniques chart

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

problem solving techniques chart

  • 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.

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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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Blog Business

What is a Problem-Solving Flowchart & How to Make One

By Danesh Ramuthi , Aug 10, 2023

What is A Problem Solving Flowchart

Problem-Solving Flowcharts, contrary to what many believe aren’t just aesthetic wonders — they’re almost like magical blueprints for troubleshooting those pesky problems that many of us face.

Flowcharts take business challenges and turn them into a navigable pathway. In this post, I will guide you on key aspects of problem-solving flowcharts such as what it is, the advantages of problem-solving flowcharts, how to create one and more.

Besides, you’ll also discover how to create problem-solving flowcharts with the help of Venngage’s Flowchart Maker.

And for those of you thinking, “I’m no designer, how can I create one?” worry not! I’ve got you covered. Just hop on Venggage’s Flowchart Templates and you’ll be charting your way to problem-solving glory in no time.

Click to jump ahead:

What are problem-solving flowcharts?

When to use problem-solving flowcharts, what are the advantages of flowcharts in problem-solving, what are the 7 steps of problem-solving flowcharts.

  • 5 different types of problem-solving flowcharts

Best practices for designing effective problem-solving flowcharts

How to make a flowchart using venngage , problem-solving flowcharts faqs.

  • Final Thoughts

Problem-Solving Flowcharts is a graphical representation used to break down problem or process into smaller, manageable parts, identify the root causes and outline a step-by-step solution. 

It helps in visually organizing information and showing the relationships between various parts of the problem.

This type of flowcharts consists of different symbols and arrows, each representing different components or steps in the problem-solving process. 

By following the flow of the chart, individuals or teams can methodically approach problem, analyze different aspects of it and come to a well-informed solution.

Problem Agitate Solution Flow Chart Template

Problem-Solving Flowcharts is a versatile tool that can be used in various scenarios. Here’s when to consider utilizing one:

  • Complex Problems: When faced with a multifaceted issue that involves multiple steps or variables, flowcharts can help break down the complexity into digestible parts.
  • Team Collaboration: If you’re working with a team and need a common understanding of problem and its potential solutions then a flowchart provides a visual that everyone can refer to.
  • Analyzing Processes: In a situation where you need to understand a particular process, whether it’s within a project or a part of regular operations then mapping it out in a flowchart can offer clarity.
  • Decision Making: When various paths or decisions might be taken, a flowchart can outline the potential outcomes of each aiding in making an informed choice.
  • Training and Onboarding: Flowcharts can be used in training materials to help new employees understand complex processes or procedures which makes the learning curve smoother.
  • Identifying Root Causes: If you’re looking to identify the underlying causes of problem then a flowchart can facilitate a systematic approach to reaching the root of the issue.

Related: How to Use Fishbone Diagrams to Solve Complex Problems

Problem-solving flowcharts can offer several benefits to the users who are looking to solve a particular problem. Few advantages of flowcharts in problem solving are: 

Visual Clarity

When you’re dealing with multifaceted problems or processes, words alone can make the situation seem even more tangled. Flowcharts distill these complexities into easily understandable visual elements. 

By mapping out each phase or component of problem, flowcharts offer a bird’s eye view enabling individuals to grasp the bigger picture and the finer details simultaneously.

Sequential Representation

Flowcharts excel in laying out the sequence of events or actions. By indicating a clear starting point and illustrating each subsequent step, they guide users through a process or solution path methodically. 

This linear representation ensures that no step is overlooked and each is executed in the right order.  

Collaboration

Problem-solving often requires team effort and flowcharts are instrumental in fostering collaborative environments. 

When a team is discussing potential solutions or trying to understand problem’s intricacies, a flowchart serves as a collective reference point. 

It aids in synchronizing everyone’s understanding, minimizing miscommunications and promoting constructive discussions. 

Website User Flow Diagram

1. Define the Problem  

Before anything else, it’s essential to articulate the problem or task you want to solve clearly and accurately. By understanding exactly what needs to be addressed you can ensure that subsequent steps align with the core issue.

2. Identify the Inputs and Outputs  

Determine what inputs (such as data, information or resources) will be required to solve the problem and what the desired outputs or outcomes are. Identifying these factors will guide you in structuring the steps needed to reach the end goal and ensure that all necessary resources are at hand.

3. Identify the Main Steps  

Break down the problem-solving process into its main steps or subtasks. This involves pinpointing the essential actions or stages necessary to reach the solution. Create a roadmap that helps in understanding how to approach the problem methodically.

4. Use Decision Symbols  

In problem-solving, decisions often lead to different paths or outcomes. Using standard symbols to represent these decision points in the flowcharts allows for a clear understanding of these critical junctures. It helps visually present various scenarios and their consequences.

5. Add Descriptions and Details  

A well-designed flowcharts is concise but clear in its labeling. Using arrows and short, descriptive phrases to explain what happens at each step or decision point ensures that the flowcharts communicates the process without unnecessary complexity. 

6. Revise and Refine  

Creating a flowcharts is not always a one-and-done process. It may require revisions to improve its clarity, accuracy or comprehensiveness. Necessary refinement ensures that the flowcharts precisely reflects the problem-solving process and is free from errors or ambiguities.

7. Use Flowchart Tool  

While it’s possible to draw a flowcharts manually, using a flowcharts tool like Venngage’s Flowchart Maker and Venngage’s Flowchart Templates can make the process more efficient and flexible. These tools come with pre-designed templates and intuitive interfaces that make it easy to create, modify and share flowcharts. 

Root Cause Analysis Flow Chart

5 different types of problem-solving flowcharts 

Let’s have a look at 5 most common types of flowcharts that individuals and organizations often use. 

1. Process Flowchart s

A process flowcharts is a visual representation of the sequence of steps and decisions involved in executing a particular process or procedure. 

It serves as a blueprint that showcases how different stages or functions are interconnected in a systematic flow and it highlights the direction of the process from its beginning to its end.

Proposal Process Flowchart

Process flowcharts are instrumental in training and onboarding, sales process , process optimization, documentation, recruitment and in any scenario where clear communication of a process is crucial.

Simple Recruitment Process Flowchart

2. Flowcharts Infographic 

A flowcharts infographic is a great way to showcase the process or a series of steps using a combination of graphics, icons, symbols and concise text. It aims to communicate complex information in a clear and easy-to-understand manner, making it a popular tool for conveying information, data and instructions in a visually engaging way.

Icon Competitor Process Infographic Template

For example, you can use this flowchart to illustrate a health insurance process that visually explains the steps involved from finding a provider to paying for your healthcare provider. 

Flowchart Infographic Template

3. Circular Flowcharts

A circular flowcharts is used to illustrate the flow of information, goods, services or money within a closed system or process. It gets its name from its circular shape, which emphasizes the continuous and cyclical nature of the flow. 

Marketing Life Cycle Circular Flowchart Diagram

Circular flowcharts are widely used in various fields such as economics, business, engineering and process management to help visualize and understand complex systems.

In a circular flowcharts , elements are represented using various shapes and connected with arrows to indicate the direction of flow. The circular arrangement indicates that the process is ongoing and repeats itself over time.

Quad Life Cycle Flowchart

4. Swimlane flowcharts

Swimlane flowcharts , also known as cross-functional flowcharts are a specific type of flowchart that organizes the process flow into lanes or “swimlanes.” 

Each lane represents a different participant or functional area involved in the process and the flowchart shows how activities or information move between these participants. 

Swimlane Process Flow

Swimlane flowcharts are particularly useful for illustrating complex processes that involve multiple stakeholders or departments.

In a swimlane flowcharts, the process is divided horizontally into lanes and each lane is labeled with the name of the department, person or role responsible for that part of the process. Vertically, the flowchart displays the sequence of steps or actions taken in the process.

problem solving techniques chart

5. Decision Flowchart s

Decision flowcharts, also known as decision trees or flow diagrams are graphical representations that illustrate the process of making decisions or solving problems. 

They are widely used in various fields such as computer science, business mapping , engineering and problem-solving scenarios. 

Vibrant Decision Flowchart Template

Decision flowcharts help break down complex decision-making processes into simple, sequential steps, making it easier to understand and follow.

A decision tree is a specialized flowchart used to visually represent the process of decision-making. 

Businesses and other individuals can employ a decision tree analysis as a tool to aid in evaluating different options and the possible consequences associated with each choice.

Decision trees Infographics can be used to create a more nuanced type of flowchart that is more informative and visually appealing by combining a decision flowchart and the flowchart infographic. 

Decision flowcharts are valuable tools for visualizing decision-making processes, analyzing complex problems and communicating them effectively to others.

Illustrative Decision Flowchart Template

Designing effective problem-solving flowcharts involves careful consideration of various factors to ensure clarity, accuracy and usability. Here are some best practices to create efficient and useful problem-solving flowcharts:

  • Understand the problem first & clearly define it
  • Keep it simple
  • Use standard & recognizable symbols
  • Ensure that the flowchart follows a logical and sequential order
  • Clearly label each decision point, action and outcome
  • Verify the flowchart’s accuracy by testing it
  • Clearly state the decision criteria that lead to different branches
  • Provide context when the flowchart is part of a larger process or system
  • Review and revise the flowchart

Creating problem-solving flowchart on Venngage is incredibly simple. All you have to do is:

  • Start by Signing Up and Creating an Account with Venngage
  • Choose a flowchart template that best suits your needs from our library.
  • Start editing your flowchart by choosing the desired shapes, labels and colors.
  • You can also enhance your flowchart by incorporating icons, illustrations or backgrounds all of which are readily available in our library.
  • Once done, you will have 2 options to choose from, either sharing it online for free or downloading your flowchart to your desktop by subscribing to the Premium or Business Plan. 

Is flowchart the representation of problem solutions?

Flowcharts are not the representation of problem solutions per se; rather, they are a visual representation of processes, decision-making steps and actions taken to arrive at a solution to problem.

What are the 3 basic structures of flowcharts?

3 Basic Structures of Flowcharts are:

  • Sequence: Simplify Complexity
  • Selection (Decision): Embrace Choices
  • Repetition (Loop): Emphasize Iteration

What are the elements of a good flowchart?

A good flowchart should exhibit clarity and simplicity, using consistent symbols and labels to depict a logical sequence of steps. It should be readable, with appropriate white space to avoid clutter while eliminating ambiguity through well-defined decision criteria and paths.

Can flowcharts be used for both simple and complex problem-solving?

Yes, flowcharts can be used for both simple and complex problem-solving scenarios. Flowcharts are versatile visual tools that can effectively represent various processes, decision-making steps and problem-solving approaches regardless of their complexity.

In both cases, flowcharts offer a systematic and visual means of organizing information, identifying potential problems and facilitating collaboration among team members.

Can problem-solving flowcharts be used in any industry or domain?

Problem-solving flowcharts can be used in virtually any industry or domain. The versatility and effectiveness of flowcharts make them applicable to a wide range of fields such as Business and Management, Software Development and IT, Healthcare, Education, Finance, Marketing & Sales and a lot more other industries. 

Final thoughts

Problem-solving flowcharts are a valuable and versatile tool that empowers individuals and teams to tackle complex problems with clarity and efficiency.

By visually representing the step-by-step process of identifying, analyzing and resolving issues, flowcharts serve as navigational guides simplifying intricate challenges into digestible parts.

With the aid of modern tools like Venngage’s Flowchart Maker and Venngage’s Flowchart Templates , designing impactful flowcharts becomes accessible to all while revolutionizing the way problems are approached and solved.

problem solving definition

Problem Solving Skills for the Digital Age

Lucid Content

Reading time: about 6 min

Let’s face it: Things don’t always go according to plan. Systems fail, wires get crossed, projects fall apart.

Problems are an inevitable part of life and work. They’re also an opportunity to think critically and find solutions. But knowing how to get to the root of unexpected situations or challenges can mean the difference between moving forward and spinning your wheels.

Here, we’ll break down the key elements of problem solving, some effective problem solving approaches, and a few effective tools to help you arrive at solutions more quickly.

So, what is problem solving?

Broadly defined, problem solving is the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues. But you already knew that. Understanding problem solving frameworks, however, requires a deeper dive.

Think about a recent problem you faced. Maybe it was an interpersonal issue. Or it could have been a major creative challenge you needed to solve for a client at work. How did you feel as you approached the issue? Stressed? Confused? Optimistic? Most importantly, which problem solving techniques did you use to tackle the situation head-on? How did you organize thoughts to arrive at the best possible solution?

Solve your problem-solving problem  

Here’s the good news: Good problem solving skills can be learned. By its nature, problem solving doesn’t adhere to a clear set of do’s and don’ts—it requires flexibility, communication, and adaptation. However, most problems you face, at work or in life, can be tackled using four basic steps.

First, you must define the problem . This step sounds obvious, but often, you can notice that something is amiss in a project or process without really knowing where the core problem lies. The most challenging part of the problem solving process is uncovering where the problem originated.

Second, you work to generate alternatives to address the problem directly. This should be a collaborative process to ensure you’re considering every angle of the issue.

Third, you evaluate and test potential solutions to your problem. This step helps you fully understand the complexity of the issue and arrive at the best possible solution.

Finally, fourth, you select and implement the solution that best addresses the problem.

Following this basic four-step process will help you approach every problem you encounter with the same rigorous critical and strategic thinking process, recognize commonalities in new problems, and avoid repeating past mistakes.

In addition to these basic problem solving skills, there are several best practices that you should incorporate. These problem solving approaches can help you think more critically and creatively about any problem:

You may not feel like you have the right expertise to resolve a specific problem. Don’t let that stop you from tackling it. The best problem solvers become students of the problem at hand. Even if you don’t have particular expertise on a topic, your unique experience and perspective can lend itself to creative solutions.

Challenge the status quo

Standard problem solving methodologies and problem solving frameworks are a good starting point. But don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions and push boundaries. Good problem solvers find ways to apply existing best practices into innovative problem solving approaches.

Think broadly about and visualize the issue

Sometimes it’s hard to see a problem, even if it’s right in front of you. Clear answers could be buried in rows of spreadsheet data or lost in miscommunication. Use visualization as a problem solving tool to break down problems to their core elements. Visuals can help you see bottlenecks in the context of the whole process and more clearly organize your thoughts as you define the problem.  

Hypothesize, test, and try again

It might be cliche, but there’s truth in the old adage that 99% of inspiration is perspiration. The best problem solvers ask why, test, fail, and ask why again. Whether it takes one or 1,000 iterations to solve a problem, the important part—and the part that everyone remembers—is the solution.

Consider other viewpoints

Today’s problems are more complex, more difficult to solve, and they often involve multiple disciplines. They require group expertise and knowledge. Being open to others’ expertise increases your ability to be a great problem solver. Great solutions come from integrating your ideas with those of others to find a better solution. Excellent problem solvers build networks and know how to collaborate with other people and teams. They are skilled in bringing people together and sharing knowledge and information.

4 effective problem solving tools

As you work through the problem solving steps, try these tools to better define the issue and find the appropriate solution.

Root cause analysis

Similar to pulling weeds from your garden, if you don’t get to the root of the problem, it’s bound to come back. A root cause analysis helps you figure out the root cause behind any disruption or problem, so you can take steps to correct the problem from recurring. The root cause analysis process involves defining the problem, collecting data, and identifying causal factors to pinpoint root causes and arrive at a solution.

root cause analysis example table

Less structured than other more traditional problem solving methods, the 5 Whys is simply what it sounds like: asking why over and over to get to the root of an obstacle or setback. This technique encourages an open dialogue that can trigger new ideas about a problem, whether done individually or with a group. Each why piggybacks off the answer to the previous why. Get started with the template below—both flowcharts and fishbone diagrams can also help you track your answers to the 5 Whys.

5 Whys analysis

Brainstorming

A meeting of the minds, a brain dump, a mind meld, a jam session. Whatever you call it, collaborative brainstorming can help surface previously unseen issues, root causes, and alternative solutions. Create and share a mind map with your team members to fuel your brainstorming session.

Gap analysis

Sometimes you don’t know where the problem is until you determine where it isn’t. Gap filling helps you analyze inadequacies that are preventing you from reaching an optimized state or end goal. For example, a content gap analysis can help a content marketer determine where holes exist in messaging or the customer experience. Gap analysis is especially helpful when it comes to problem solving because it requires you to find workable solutions. A SWOT analysis chart that looks at a problem through the lens of strengths, opportunities, opportunities, and threats can be a helpful problem solving framework as you start your analysis.

SWOT analysis

A better way to problem solve

Beyond these practical tips and tools, there are myriad methodical and creative approaches to move a project forward or resolve a conflict. The right approach will depend on the scope of the issue and your desired outcome.

Depending on the problem, Lucidchart offers several templates and diagrams that could help you identify the cause of the issue and map out a plan to resolve it.  Learn more about how Lucidchart can help you take control of your problem solving process .

Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.

Related articles

problem solving techniques chart

Sometimes you're faced with challenges that traditional problem solving can't fix. Creative problem solving encourages you to find new, creative ways of thinking that can help you overcome the issue at hand more quickly.

problem solving techniques chart

Root cause analysis refers to any problem-solving method used to trace an issue back to its origin. Learn how to complete a root cause analysis—we've even included templates to get you started.

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  • A Step-by-Step Guide to A3 Problem Solving Methodology

A3 Problem Solving - A Step by Step Guide - Feature Image - Learnleansigma

  • Learn Lean Sigma
  • Problem Solving

Problem-solving is an important component of any business or organization. It entails identifying, analyzing, and resolving problems in order to improve processes, drive results, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. A3 Problem solving is one of the most effective problem-solving methodologies.

A3 Problem solving is a structured and systematic approach to problem-solving that originated with the lean manufacturing methodology. It visualizes the problem-solving process using a one-page document known as an A3 report. The A3 report provides an overview of the problem, data analysis, root causes, solutions, and results in a clear and concise manner.

A3 Problem Solving has numerous advantages, including improved communication, better decision-making, increased efficiency, and reduced waste. It is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes and industries, and it is especially useful for solving complex and multi-faceted problems.

In this blog post, we will walk you through the A3 Problem Solving methodology step by step. Whether you are new to A3 Problem Solving or simply want to improve your skills, this guide will help you understand and apply the process in your workplace.

Table of Contents

What is a3 problem solving.

A3 Problem Solving is a structured and systematic approach to problem-solving that makes use of a one-page document called an A3 report to visually represent the process. The A3 report provides an overview of the problem, data analysis, root causes, solutions, and results in a clear and concise manner. The method was created within the framework of the Lean manufacturing methodology and is based on the principles of continuous improvement and visual management.

A3 Problem Solving Template

Looking for a A3 Problem solving template? Click here

Origin and History of A3 Problem Solving

A3 Problem Solving was developed by Toyota Motor Corporation and was first used in the manufacture of automobiles. The term “A3” refers to the size of the paper used to create the report, which is an ISO standard known as “A3”. The goal of the A3 report is to provide a visual representation of the problem-solving process that all members of the organisation can easily understand and share. A3 Problem Solving has been adopted by organisations in a variety of industries over the years, and it has become a widely used and recognised method for problem-solving.

Key Principles of A3 Problem Solving

The following are the key principles of A3 Problem Solving:

  • Define the problem clearly and concisely
  • Gather and analyze data to gain a deep understanding of the problem
  • Identify the root causes of the problem
  • Develop and implement effective solutions
  • Evaluate results and continuously improve

These principles serve as the foundation of the A3 Problem Solving methodology and are intended to assist organisations in continuously improving and achieving their objectives. Organizations can effectively solve problems, identify areas for improvement, and drive results by adhering to these principles.

Step 1: Define the Problem

Importance of clearly defining the problem.

The first step in the A3 Problem Solving process is critical because it lays the groundwork for the remaining steps. To define the problem clearly and accurately, you must first understand the problem and identify the underlying root cause. This step is critical because if the problem is not correctly defined, the rest of the process will be based on incorrect information, and the solution developed may not address the issue effectively.

The significance of defining the problem clearly cannot be overstated. It aids in the collection and analysis of relevant data, which is critical for developing effective solutions. When the problem is clearly defined, the data gathered is more relevant and targeted, resulting in a more comprehensive understanding of the issue. This will enable the development of solutions that are more likely to be effective because they are founded on a thorough and accurate understanding of the problem.

However, if the problem is not clearly defined, the data gathered may be irrelevant or incorrect, resulting in incorrect conclusions and ineffective solutions. Furthermore, the process of collecting and analysing data can become time-consuming and inefficient, resulting in resource waste. Furthermore, if the problem is not accurately defined, the solutions developed may fail to address the root cause of the problem, resulting in ongoing issues and a lack of improvement.

Techniques for Defining the Problem

The first step in the A3 Problem Solving process is to clearly and accurately define the problem. This is an important step because a clearly defined problem will help to ensure that the appropriate data is collected and solutions are developed. If the problem is not clearly defined, incorrect data may be collected, solutions that do not address the root cause of the problem, and time and resources may be wasted.

A problem can be defined using a variety of techniques, including brainstorming , root cause analysis , process mapping , and Ishikawa diagrams . Each of these techniques has its own advantages and disadvantages and can be used in a variety of situations depending on the nature of the problem.

Best Practice for Defining the Problem

In addition to brainstorming, root cause analysis, process mapping, and Ishikawa diagram s, best practices should be followed when defining a problem in A3 Problem Solving. Among these best practices are:

  • Define the issue in a specific and quantifiable way: It is critical to be specific and concise when defining the problem, as well as to quantify the problem in terms of its impact. This will help to ensure that all stakeholders understand the problem and that data collection is focused on the right areas.
  • Focus on the problem’s root cause: The A3 Problem Solving methodology is intended to assist organisations in identifying and addressing the root cause of a problem, rather than just the symptoms. Organizations can ensure that their solutions are effective and long-lasting by focusing on the root cause of the problem.
  • Ascertain that all stakeholders agree on the problem’s definition: All stakeholders must agree on the definition of the problem for the A3 Problem Solving process to be effective. This ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal and that the solutions developed are relevant and appropriate.
  • Consider the problem’s impact on the organisation and its stakeholders: It is critical to consider the impact of the problem on the organisation and its stakeholders when defining it. This will assist in ensuring that the appropriate data is gathered and that the solutions developed are relevant and appropriate.

Organizations can ensure that their problem is defined in a way that allows for effective data collection, analysis, and solution development by following these best practices. This will aid in the development of appropriate solutions and the effective resolution of the problem, resulting in improvements in the organization’s processes and outcomes.

Step 2: Gather Data

Gathering data in a3 problem solving.

Data collection is an important step in the A3 Problem Solving process because it allows organisations to gain a thorough understanding of the problem they are attempting to solve. This step entails gathering pertinent information about the problem, such as data on its origin, impact, and any related factors. This information is then used to help identify root causes and develop effective solutions.

One of the most important advantages of data collection in A3 Problem Solving is that it allows organisations to identify patterns and trends in data, which can be useful in determining the root cause of the problem. This information can then be used to create effective solutions that address the problem’s root cause rather than just its symptoms.

In A3 Problem Solving, data collection is a collaborative effort involving all stakeholders, including those directly impacted by the problem and those with relevant expertise or experience. Stakeholders can ensure that all relevant information is collected and that the data is accurate and complete by working together.

Overall, data collection is an important step in the A3 Problem Solving process because it serves as the foundation for effective problem-solving. Organizations can gain a deep understanding of the problem they are attempting to solve and develop effective solutions that address its root cause by collecting and analysing relevant data.

Data Collection Methods

In A3 Problem Solving, several data collection methods are available, including:

  • Observations
  • Process diagrams

The best data collection method will be determined by the problem being solved and the type of data required. To gain a complete understanding of the problem, it is critical to use multiple data collection methods.

Tools for Data Analysis and Visualization

Once the data has been collected, it must be analysed and visualised in order to gain insights into the problem. This process can be aided by the following tools:

  • Excel Spreadsheets
  • Flow diagrams
  • Pareto diagrams
  • Scatter Plots
  • Control diagrams

Histogram

These tools can assist in organising data and making it easier to understand. They can also be used to generate visual representations of data, such as graphs and charts, to communicate the findings to others.

Finally, the data collection and analysis step is an important part of the A3 Problem Solving process. Organizations can gain a better understanding of the problem and develop effective solutions by collecting and analysing relevant data.

Step 3: Identify Root Causes

Identifying the root causes of the problem is the third step in the A3 Problem Solving process. This step is critical because it assists organisations in understanding the root causes of a problem rather than just its symptoms. Once the underlying cause of the problem is identified, it can be addressed more effectively, leading to more long-term solutions.

Overview of the Root Cause Analysis Process

The process of determining the underlying causes of a problem is known as root cause analysis. This process can assist organisations in determining why a problem is occurring and what can be done to prevent it from recurring in the future. The goal of root cause analysis is to identify the underlying cause of a problem rather than just its symptoms, allowing it to be addressed more effectively.

To understand Root cause analysis in more detail check out RCA in our Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Course Root Cause Analysis section

Techniques for Identifying Root Causes

There are several techniques for determining the root causes of a problem, including:

  • Brainstorming
  • Ishikawa diagrams (also known as fishbone diagrams)
  • Root Cause Tree Analysis

These methods can be used to investigate the issue in-depth and identify potential root causes. Organizations can gain a deeper understanding of the problem and identify the underlying causes that must be addressed by using these techniques.

Best Practices for Conducting Root Cause Analysis

It is critical to follow these best practices when conducting root cause analysis in A3 Problem Solving:

  • Make certain that all stakeholders participate in the root cause analysis process.
  • Concentrate on determining the root cause of the problem rather than just its symptoms.
  • Take into account all potential root causes, not just the most obvious ones.
  • To identify root causes, use a systematic approach, such as the 5 Whys or root cause tree analysis.

Organizations can ensure that root cause analysis is carried out effectively and that the root cause of the problem is identified by adhering to these best practises. This will aid in the development of appropriate solutions and the effective resolution of the problem.

Step 4: Develop Solutions

Developing solutions is the fourth step in the A3 Problem Solving process. This entails generating ideas and options for dealing with the problem, followed by selecting the best solution. The goal is to develop a solution that addresses the root cause of the problem and prevents it from recurring.

Solution Development in A3 Problem Solving

A3 solution development Problem solving is an iterative process in which options are generated and evaluated. The data gathered in the previous steps, as well as the insights and understanding gained from the root cause analysis, guide this process. The solution should be based on a thorough understanding of the problem and address the underlying cause.

Techniques for Developing Solutions

There are several techniques that can be used to develop solutions in A3 Problem Solving, including:

  • Brainwriting
  • Solution matrix
  • Multi voting
  • Force field analysis

These techniques can help to generate a range of options and to select the best solution.

Best Practice for Developing Solutions

It is critical to follow the following best practices when developing solutions in A3 Problem Solving:

  • Participate in the solution development process with all stakeholders.
  • Make certain that the solution addresses the underlying cause of the problem.
  • Make certain that the solution is feasible and achievable.
  • Consider the solution’s impact on the organisation and its stakeholders.

Organizations can ensure that the solutions they develop are effective and sustainable by adhering to these best practises. This will help to ensure that the problem is addressed effectively and that it does not reoccur.

Step 5: Implement Solutions

The final and most important step in the A3 Problem Solving methodology is solution implementation. This is the stage at which the identified and developed solutions are put into action to address the problem. This step’s goal is to ensure that the solutions are effective, efficient, and long-lasting.

The implementation Process

The implementation process entails putting the solutions developed in the previous step into action. This could include changes to processes, procedures, and systems, as well as employee training and education. To ensure that the solutions are effective, the implementation process should be well-planned and meticulously executed.

Techniques for Implementing Solutions

A3 Problem Solving solutions can be implemented using a variety of techniques, including:

  • Piloting the solution on a small scale before broadening its application
  • Participating in the implementation process with all relevant stakeholders
  • ensuring that the solution is in line with the goals and objectives of the organisation
  • Monitoring the solution to determine its effectiveness and make any necessary changes

Best Practice for Implementing Solutions

It is critical to follow these best practices when implementing solutions in A3 Problem Solving:

Make certain that all relevant stakeholders are involved and supportive of the solution. Have a clear implementation plan that outlines the steps, timeline, and resources required. Continuously monitor and evaluate the solution to determine its efficacy and make any necessary changes. Encourage all stakeholders to communicate and collaborate openly. Organizations can ensure that solutions are effectively implemented and problems are effectively addressed by adhering to these best practices. The ultimate goal is to find a long-term solution to the problem and improve the organization’s overall performance.

In conclusion, A3 Problem Solving is a comprehensive and structured methodology for problem-solving that can be applied in various industries and organisations. The A3 Problem Solving process’s five steps – Define the Problem, Gather Data, Identify Root Causes, Develop Solutions, and Implement Solutions – provide a road map for effectively addressing problems and making long-term improvements.

Organizations can improve their problem-solving skills and achieve better results by following the key principles, techniques, and best practices outlined in this guide. As a result, both the organisation and its stakeholders will benefit from increased efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction. So, whether you’re an experienced problem solver or just getting started, consider incorporating the A3 Problem Solving methodology into your work and start reaping the benefits right away.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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Problem Solving Techniques: Your Ultimate Guide with Examples

problem solving techniques chart

Problem-solving is an essential skill we all need in our personal and professional lives. Whether you're facing a complex issue at work or trying to resolve a conflict at home, knowing how to identify and solve problems effectively is invaluable. 

In this blog post, we'll explore various problem-solving techniques that can help you tackle challenges confidently and efficiently, accompanied by real-life examples.

How to Identify Problems?

Before diving into the techniques, let's briefly discuss identifying problems. Recognizing that a problem exists is often the first and most crucial step in the problem-solving process. Here are some tips for identifying problems:

Pay Attention to Signs

Look for signs of trouble or discrepancies in your surroundings, projects, or relationships. These can be indicators of underlying issues.

Example:  In a project management context, consistently missing deadlines or decreasing team morale could be signs of underlying problems.

Listen Actively

Be a good listener and encourage open communication with others. People often voice their concerns or frustrations, which can help you identify problems early on.

Example:  In a family setting, if a family member repeatedly expresses frustration with household chores, it might indicate a problem with task distribution or communication.

Data Analysis

Analyze data and performance metrics to detect anomalies or trends that signal problems.

Example:  A sales department's decline in monthly sales figures may signal a problem with the sales strategy or market conditions.

Self-Reflection

Regularly self-reflect on your experiences and challenges. This can help you identify personal issues that need attention.

Example:  If you consistently feel overwhelmed and stressed, it may indicate a problem with time management or work-life balance.

Now, let's explore various problem-solving techniques with real-life examples that can be applied depending on the nature and complexity of the problem.

Types of Problem-Solving Techniques

Lightning decision jam.

Technique:  Lightning Decision Jam is a rapid problem-solving technique involving gathering a diverse group of individuals to brainstorm solutions to a problem quickly. It's a great way to generate creative ideas and make quick decisions.

Example:  Imagine a software development team facing a critical bug in their application. They organize a Lightning Decision Jam, bringing developers, testers, and designers together. In just one hour, they generate innovative solutions and decide on a fix that gets the application up and running smoothly.

Technique:  The 5 Whys is a simple yet powerful technique that involves asking "Why?" repeatedly to get to the root cause of a problem. By addressing the underlying issues, you can prevent the problem from recurring.

Example:  In a manufacturing plant, there's a recurring issue of defective products. By asking "Why?" multiple times, the team discovers that the root cause is a malfunctioning machine that isn't properly maintained. They address this issue, reducing defects and improving product quality.

SWOT Analysis

Technique:  SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis is a structured approach to evaluating a situation. It helps you identify internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats, enabling you to make informed decisions.

Example:  A small business owner conducts a SWOT analysis for their company. They identify that their strength lies in a loyal customer base, but a weakness is their limited online presence. Recognizing the opportunity in e-commerce, they decided to invest in building an online store to reach a broader audience.

Fishbone Analysis

Technique:  Also known as Ishikawa or Cause-and-Effect Analysis, this technique helps you visualize the potential causes of a problem. It's beneficial for exploring complex issues with multiple contributing factors.

Example:  In a hospital, the Fishbone Analysis is used to investigate increased patient falls. The analysis uncovers several causes, including inadequate staff training and slippery floors. By addressing these root causes, the hospital reduces patient falls significantly.

Problem Tree

Technique:  The Problem Tree technique visually represents a problem and its various branches, including causes and effects. This approach aids in understanding the problem's scope and interconnections.

Example:  An environmental organization uses a Problem Tree to address deforestation. They identify the root cause as illegal logging, which has cascading effects such as habitat destruction and climate change. This visualization helps them develop a comprehensive conservation strategy.

Brainstorming

Technique:  Brainstorming is a classic technique for generating various ideas and solutions. It encourages creative thinking and collaboration among team members.

Example:  A marketing team is brainstorming ideas for a new advertising campaign. By allowing team members to suggest concepts freely, they generate a list of innovative campaign ideas that resonate with their target audience.

Root-Cause Analysis

Technique:  Root-cause analysis aims to identify the fundamental cause of a problem. It involves in-depth investigation and is often used for critical issues or recurring problems.

Example:  In an IT department, recurring network outages disrupt operations. A root-cause analysis reveals that the outages are due to outdated network equipment. By replacing the equipment, the department eliminates the recurring problem.

Design Thinking

Technique:  Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving that emphasizes empathy and iterative prototyping. It's beneficial for addressing complex, user-centric problems.

Example:  A nonprofit organization uses Design Thinking to improve the user experience of their website. They conduct interviews with users to understand their needs and pain points, leading to a website redesign that better serves their audience.

Six Thinking Hats

Technique:  Developed by Edward de Bono , the Six Thinking Hats method assigns different "hats" to participants, each representing a different perspective (e.g., logical thinking, emotions, creativity). This technique helps explore problems from various angles.

Example:  A corporate team applies the Six Thinking Hats method to evaluate a potential merger. They make a well-informed decision by systematically considering factors such as financial viability, employee morale, and customer impact.

Working Backwards

Technique:  Working Backwards is a technique often used in product development. It involves starting with the desired outcome and working backward to identify the steps required to achieve it.

Example:  A tech company wants to create a groundbreaking smartphone. They begin by envisioning the perfect user experience and then reverse-engineer the technology and features needed to make it a reality.

Trial & Error

Technique:  Sometimes, trial and error can be a valid problem-solving approach. It's especially useful when dealing with unfamiliar or novel problems.

Example:  A chef experimenting with a new recipe for a signature dish uses trial and error to refine the ingredients and cooking techniques until he achieves the desired taste and presentation.

Problem-solving is an essential skill that can be honed and improved over time. By familiarizing yourself with these problem-solving techniques and their real-life examples, you'll be better equipped to effectively address a wide range of challenges.

Remember that the choice of technique should depend on the specific problem you're facing. Whether it's a lightning-fast decision jam or a thorough root-cause analysis, having a diverse toolkit of problem-solving techniques at your disposal will empower you to tackle problems confidently and successfully.

So, the next time you encounter an issue, don't panic—apply the correct technique, and you'll be well on your way to finding a solution.

problem solving techniques chart

Shiva is a subject matter expert in communication, marketing, productivity, and learning systems. He has previously contributed to many blogs and newsletters, including Validated, Mental Models, HackerNoon, and several brands. You can find Shiva on  LinkedIn  or email him at shiva(at)routine.co.

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problem solving techniques chart

Table of Contents

The problem-solving process, how to solve problems: 5 steps, train to solve problems with lean today, what is problem solving steps, techniques, & best practices explained.

What Is Problem Solving? Steps, Techniques, and Best Practices Explained

Problem solving is the art of identifying problems and implementing the best possible solutions. Revisiting your problem-solving skills may be the missing piece to leveraging the performance of your business, achieving Lean success, or unlocking your professional potential. 

Ask any colleague if they’re an effective problem-solver and their likely answer will be, “Of course! I solve problems every day.” 

Problem solving is part of most job descriptions, sure. But not everyone can do it consistently. 

Problem solving is the process of defining a problem, identifying its root cause, prioritizing and selecting potential solutions, and implementing the chosen solution.

There’s no one-size-fits-all problem-solving process. Often, it’s a unique methodology that aligns your short- and long-term objectives with the resources at your disposal. Nonetheless, many paradigms center problem solving as a pathway for achieving one’s goals faster and smarter. 

One example is the Six Sigma framework , which emphasizes eliminating errors and refining the customer experience, thereby improving business outcomes. Developed originally by Motorola, the Six Sigma process identifies problems from the perspective of customer satisfaction and improving product delivery. 

Lean management, a similar method, is about streamlining company processes over time so they become “leaner” while producing better outcomes. 

Trendy business management lingo aside, both of these frameworks teach us that investing in your problem solving process for personal and professional arenas will bring better productivity.

1. Precisely Identify Problems

As obvious as it seems, identifying the problem is the first step in the problem-solving process. Pinpointing a problem at the beginning of the process will guide your research, collaboration, and solutions in the right direction. 

At this stage, your task is to identify the scope and substance of the problem. Ask yourself a series of questions: 

  • What’s the problem? 
  • How many subsets of issues are underneath this problem? 
  • What subject areas, departments of work, or functions of business can best define this problem? 

Although some problems are naturally large in scope, precision is key. Write out the problems as statements in planning sheets . Should information or feedback during a later step alter the scope of your problem, revise the statements. 

Framing the problem at this stage will help you stay focused if distractions come up in later stages. Furthermore, how you frame a problem will aid your search for a solution. A strategy of building Lean success, for instance, will emphasize identifying and improving upon inefficient systems. 

2. Collect Information and Plan 

The second step is to collect information and plan the brainstorming process. This is another foundational step to road mapping your problem-solving process. Data, after all, is useful in identifying the scope and substance of your problems. 

Collecting information on the exact details of the problem, however, is done to narrow the brainstorming portion to help you evaluate the outcomes later. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unnecessary information — use the problem statements that you identified in step one as a north star in your research process. 

This stage should also include some planning. Ask yourself:

  • What parties will ultimately decide a solution? 
  • Whose voices and ideas should be heard in the brainstorming process? 
  • What resources are at your disposal for implementing a solution? 

Establish a plan and timeline for steps 3-5. 

3. Brainstorm Solutions

Brainstorming solutions is the bread and butter of the problem-solving process. At this stage, focus on generating creative ideas. As long as the solution directly addresses the problem statements and achieves your goals, don’t immediately rule it out. 

Moreover, solutions are rarely a one-step answer and are more like a roadmap with a set of actions. As you brainstorm ideas, map out these solutions visually and include any relevant factors such as costs involved, action steps, and involved parties. 

With Lean success in mind, stay focused on solutions that minimize waste and improve the flow of business ecosystems. 

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4. Decide and Implement

The most critical stage is selecting a solution. Easier said than done. Consider the criteria that has arisen in previous steps as you decide on a solution that meets your needs. 

Once you select a course of action, implement it. 

Practicing due diligence in earlier stages of the process will ensure that your chosen course of action has been evaluated from all angles. Often, efficient implementation requires us to act correctly and successfully the first time, rather than being hurried and sloppy. Further compilations will create more problems, bringing you back to step 1. 

5. Evaluate

Exercise humility and evaluate your solution honestly. Did you achieve the results you hoped for? What would you do differently next time? 

As some experts note, formulating feedback channels into your evaluation helps solidify future success. A framework like Lean success, for example, will use certain key performance indicators (KPIs) like quality, delivery success, reducing errors, and more. Establish metrics aligned with company goals to assess your solutions.

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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.

Brainstorming

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.
  • How to Resolve Employee Conflict at Work [Steps, Tips, Examples]
  • How to Write Inspiring Core Values? 5 Steps with Examples
  • 30 Employee Feedback Examples (Positive & Negative)

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7 Powerful Root Cause Analysis Tools and Techniques

Sebastian Traeger

By Sebastian Traeger

Updated: February 22, 2024

Reading Time: 5 minutes

1. The Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram (IFD)

2. pareto chart, 4. failure mode and effects analysis (fmea), 5. proact® rca method, 6. affinity diagram, 7. fault tree analysis (fta).

With over two decades in business – spanning strategy consulting, tech startups and executive leadership – I am committed to helping your organization thrive. At Reliability, we’re on a mission to help enhance strategic decision-making and operational excellence through the power of Root Cause Analysis, and I hope this article will be helpful!  Our goal is to help you better understand these root cause analysis techniques by offering insights and practical tips based on years of experience. Whether you’re new to doing RCAs or a seasoned pro, we trust this will be useful in your journey towards working hard and working smart.

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) shines as a pivotal process that helps organizations identify the underlying reasons for problems, failures, and inefficiencies. The goal is simple: find the cause, fix it, and prevent it from happening again. But the process can be complex, and that’s where various RCA techniques come into play. 

Let’s dive into seven widely utilized RCA techniques and explore how they can empower your team’s problem-solving efforts.

Named after Japanese quality control statistician Kaoru Ishikawa, the Fishbone Diagram is a visual tool designed for group discussions. It helps teams track back to the potential root causes of a problem by sorting and relating them in a structured way. The diagram resembles a fishbone, with the problem at the head and the causes branching off the spine like bones. This visualization aids in categorizing potential causes and studying their complex interrelationships.

The-Ishikawa- -IFD

The Pareto Chart, rooted in the Pareto Principle, is a visual tool that helps teams identify the most significant factors in a set of data. In most situations, 80% of problems can be traced back to about 20% of causes. By arranging bar heights from tallest to shortest, teams can prioritize the most significant factors and focus their improvement efforts where they can have the most impact.

Pareto Chart - Quality Improvement - East London NHS Foundation Trust :  Quality Improvement – East London NHS Foundation Trust

The 5 Whys method is the epitome of simplicity in getting to the bottom of a problem. By repeatedly asking ‘why’ (typically five times), you can delve beneath the surface-level symptoms of a problem to unearth the root cause. This iterative interrogation is most effective when answers are grounded in factual evidence.

5 Why Image 2

When prevention is better than cure, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) steps in. This systematic, proactive method helps teams identify where and how a process might fail. By predicting and examining potential process breakdowns and their impacts, teams can rectify issues before they turn into failures. FMEA is a three-step process that involves identifying potential failures, analyzing their effects, and prioritizing them based on severity, occurrence, and detection ratings.

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

The PROACT ® RCA technique is a robust process designed to drive significant business results. Notably used to identify and analyze ‘chronic failures,’ which can otherwise be overlooked, this method is defined by its name:

PReserving Evidence and Acquiring Data: Initial evidence collection step based on the 5-P’s – Parts, Position, People, Paper, and Paradigms.

Order Your Analysis Team and Assign Resources: Assembling an unbiased team to analyze a specific failure.

Analyze the Event: Reconstructing the event using a logic tree to identify Physical, Human, and Latent Root Causes.

Communicate Findings and Recommendations: Developing and implementing solutions to prevent root cause recurrence.

Track and Measure Impact for Bottom Line Results: Tracking the success of implemented recommendations and correlating the RCA’s effectiveness with ROI.

PROACT® RCA excels in mitigating risk, optimizing cost, and boosting performance, making it a valuable addition to any RCA toolkit.

PROACT Performance Process (P3)

The Affinity Diagram is a powerful tool for dealing with large amounts of data. It organizes a broad range of information into groups based on their natural relationships, creating a clear, visual representation of complex situations. It’s particularly beneficial for condensing feedback from brainstorming sessions into manageable categories, fostering a better understanding of the broader picture.

Affinity Diagram

Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) is a top-down, deductive failure analysis that explores the causes of faults or problems. It involves graphically mapping multiple causal chains to track back to possible root causes, using a tree-like diagram. FTA is particularly useful in high-risk industries, such as aerospace and nuclear power, where preventing failure is crucial.

Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)

Each RCA technique provides a unique approach for viewing and understanding problems, helping you pinpoint the root cause more effectively. The key is to understand when and how to use each tool, which can significantly enhance your team’s problem-solving capabilities.

Power up your RCA analysis with our EasyRCA and revolutionize your problem-solving process. Start Your Free Trial.

In conclusion, the techniques presented offer a diverse set of tools to help organizations address problems and inefficiencies effectively. From visual representations like the Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram and Pareto Chart to more proactive approaches such as the 5 Whys and Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), each technique provides a unique perspective on identifying and mitigating root causes.

The PROACT® RCA Method stands out for its comprehensive process, particularly suited for chronic failures. Additionally, the Affinity Diagram and Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) contribute valuable insights by organizing data and exploring causal chains, respectively. Leveraging these techniques strategically enhances a team’s problem-solving capabilities, enabling them to make informed decisions and drive continuous improvement.

I hope you found these 7 techniques insightful and actionable! Stay tuned for more thought-provoking articles as we continue to share our knowledge. Success is rooted in a thorough understanding and consistent application, and we hope this article was a step in unlocking the full potential of Root Cause Analysis for your organization. Reliability runs initiatives such as an online learning center focused on the proprietary PROACT® RCA methodology and EasyRCA.com software. For additional resources, visit our Reliability Resources .

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  • Gantt Charting: A Primer for Problem Solving & Planning Techniques

Learn about Gantt Charting, a powerful tool for problem solving and planning techniques, with this easy to understand primer.

Gantt Charting: A Primer for Problem Solving & Planning Techniques

Gantt Charting:

Developed by Henry Gantt in the early 1900s, Gantt charts are used to organize and track the progress of projects, tasks, and other important activities. They are commonly used by project managers, business owners, and other professionals to help them keep track of progress, identify potential problems before they arise, and ensure collaboration among team members. Gantt charts are highly customizable and can be tailored to suit the specific needs of any project or organization. They are typically composed of tasks arranged in a timeline, with each task having its own start date, end date, duration, resources assigned, and progress tracked.

This makes it easy to see how long it will take to complete a task or project and make adjustments if needed. There are several types of Gantt charts available, such as basic Gantt charts, resource-based Gantt charts, milestone-based Gantt charts, and hybrid Gantt charts. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consider the specific needs of the project or organization before choosing the type of Gantt chart that is best suited for the situation. Creating a Gantt chart requires careful planning and attention to detail. The first step is to determine the tasks that need to be completed and estimate how long each one will take.

Once the tasks are identified and estimated, resources should be assigned to each task as well as a timeline for completion. It is also important to ensure that data entry is accurate and that task definitions are clear. Once the Gantt chart is created, it should be regularly updated with progress information in order to keep the team informed of any changes or delays in the schedule. This will enable better collaboration between team members and ensure that the project stays on track.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Data accuracy:, task overlap:, unrealistic expectations:, the benefits of gantt charting.

Gantt charts make it easy to identify which tasks are complete and which ones still need to be completed. This allows project managers to quickly assess the overall progress of the project and identify any areas that may need more attention or resources. Additionally, Gantt charts make it possible to set realistic goals and deadlines for tasks, helping teams stay on track and meet their goals. Gantt charts also allow for better resource allocation.

By providing an overview of the project, Gantt charts enable project managers to identify where resources are needed most and allocate them accordingly. This ensures that all tasks are completed efficiently and on time. Furthermore, Gantt charts can help teams plan for future projects by allowing them to see what resources will be needed and when. Finally, Gantt charting improves collaboration within teams by allowing all members to easily see what tasks they are responsible for and when they need to be completed.

Creating a Gantt Chart

2.establish a timeline for your project, 3.break down the project into tasks, 4.assign resources to each task, 5.create the gantt chart, types of gantt charts.

Simple Gantt Charts are the most basic type of Gantt chart and are composed of a timeline along with a list of tasks. This type of chart is easy to understand and use, making it ideal for smaller projects with fewer tasks. It is also good for getting a quick overview of a project's timeline. However, it is limited in its ability to display more detailed information.

Stacked Gantt Charts

Resource-oriented gantt charts.

It can be used to ensure that resources are allocated properly and that tasks are completed on time. Gantt charting is an incredibly powerful tool for planning and problem-solving, providing users with the ability to effectively organize their tasks and reach their goals. This article has provided a comprehensive overview of Gantt charting, its benefits, types, and how to create and troubleshoot common issues. With this knowledge, users can confidently use Gantt charting to help them reach their goals.

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Exploring the Serendipity Technique of Creative Problem Solving

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How to create a problem-solving flow chart

Problem-solving is one of those topics that we’ve often discussed on this site (check out our Problem Solving guide ). We think it’s one of  THE  vital skills of business. Why? Because you’ll come across problems every day, and you need to arm yourself with the right tools to solve them.

A problem-solving flowchart is one of those tools. It’ll help you take a problem statement, break the problem down into likely causes helping you get to the bottom of what’s gone wrong.

In this post, we’ll cover

  • What is a Problem Solving Flow Chart
  • How to create a Problem Solving flow chart
  • Example 1 of Problem Solving flow chart
  • Example 2 of Problem Solving Flow chart
  • What flow chart shapes to use
  • When should you use a flow chart
  • 7 tips on creating your Problem Solving chart

Key Benefits & Likely issues with the tool

Let’s get started!

What is a Problem Solving Flowchart

A Problem Solving flow chart is a diagram that uses shapes, arrows, and text to show a moving sequence of actions and/or activities that help solve a problem.  

How to create a Problem Solving flowchart

  • Describe your problem.
  • Pose Yes/No Questions that can help identify the cause of the problem
  • Question each stage of the process until it is fully examined
  • Repeat steps 2 & 3 until you have identified a solution
  • Try the solution; if it is successful in addressing the root cause, then you’ve fixed your problem. If not, repeat the process until you have a solution that works.

A problem-solving flowchart attempts to identify a root cause/solution to the trigger that is causing the problem allowing you to change the process and prevent the problem from occurring. 

Let’s now demonstrate the effectiveness of a problem solving flowchart by showing some examples.

Example 1 Problem solving flow chart

In our first example, we’re going to start with something simple to show you the principle of the tool.

We have been given a cup of tea and we don’t like it!  

Let’s use a problem-solving flow chart to find out what’s gone wrong.

We’ve used Excel to capture this flow chart using flowchart shapes (insert –> shapes), you can, of course, use other applications to do this, you don’t’ have to have specialized flow chart software to do this. ( there’s a great flowchart in Excel video here ). Or you can simply use a pen and paper.

Use a rectangle and add your problem statement.

Remember to keep your problem statement unambiguous and straightforward. Here we’ve used “I don’t like my cup of tea.”

problem solving techniques chart

Now that we’ve got our problem statement, we’re going to start asking questions.

We’re going to examine the variables that go into a cup of tea in an attempt to find out what’s gone wrong.

** TIP** – Work through your process – rather than start from scratch, if you have a documented process, work through that examining each step to ascertain if there are issues. If not, you might find it useful to research and sketch out the process before starting with your flowchart.

We have a process for the cup of tea, which is:

1/ Boil Water

2/ Place Breakfast Tea teabag in the cup

3/ Add Water

4/ Leave to sit for 2 mins

4/ Remove teabag

5/ Add milk

6/ Add sugar

So our problem solving flow chart needs to examine each of those steps to determine where the failure has occurred. 

We’ll add a question shape (diamond), connect out problem statement to it using an arrow to check if we boiled the kettle. Our Diagram will now look like:

problem solving techniques chart

As a question, we want two possible routes – Yes and No.

Our process asks us to boil the kettle if we did, and the answer is Yes, then we can go to the next process step.

If the answer is No, then we have a problem. Our tea will be cold. 

Here we can do one of two things. We can terminate the flow chart, or we can add an activity to rectify the problem (this might be to remake the drink or to perhaps heat the drink up in the microwave).

Our flow chart now looks like this:

problem solving techniques chart

Step 2 in our Tea making process was to add a Breakfast-tea tea bag.

So, once again, we’ll ask a question about that step.

“Did we add an English Breakfast teabag.”

As before, we’ll use a question shape, using Yes or No answers. If we performed the process step correctly, we’d move on. If we didn’t, we’ll either end the problem solving (we’ve found the root cause), or we’ll add a corrective action.

Now we’ll repeat this process until we’ve reviewed the whole process.

Our finished flowchart looks like this.

problem solving techniques chart

However, we’re not finished.

What happens if we follow the flow chart, and we find we didn’t use boiled water. We remake the tea using boiled water, and we still don’t like it?  

We need to ask some further questions.

We need to update our flow chart to validate that we solved the problem and what to do if we didn’t.

So for each step of the process, our problem solving flowchart now looks like this.

Here’s our completed flow chart.

problem solving techniques chart

As you can see, we’ve identified the problem, and we’ve described a corrective action.

But there’s a problem here. With this flowchart, you can still follow it, validating the process, and still end up with a cup of tea that’s unsatisfactory. 

Why is that?

Well, it’s perfectly possible that we started out with a process that’s incorrect. What happens if the process called for using an incorrect tea bag from the start?

So we’ll simplify things by adding a block at the end that if you’re still not happy at the end of reviewing the steps, a full review of the process will be undertaken. This is a simple answer to this problem, and I would expect that you would expand this section in more detail if you were creating a flowchart yourself.

So what does a more complex process look like, how about we look at a business problem?

Example 2 Problem Solving flow chart

OK, so example 1 may have been a bit simple, and you are maybe looking for something in a business context.

So in Example 2, let’s look at a scenario that’s a little more complex.

Let’s assume that your organization has received a non-conforming part. You have been assigned to work with the Vendor to:

  • Find out what went wrong
  • Prevent recurrence

We’re going to use a problem solving flow chart to help us do that.

As with the first example, we’re going to state the problem.

“The part is non conforming.”

Using the production process from the Vendor, we’ll work through the stages to see if we can spot what’s gone wrong.

The diagram below shows an analysis of the first two steps of the production process using a problem-solving flow chart.

problem solving techniques chart

The first thing you’ll notice is that on one process step, there may be many questions to ascertain the potential issue.  

Some of these may be complex and require careful thought.

There may be multiple variables (systems, processes, tools, inputs, etc.) that may require attention.

You will need to analyze each process step, in full, to be sure you have caught all the possible causes of the fault.

Which Flow chart shapes should you use.

A problem solving flow chart usually utilizes only a small number of shapes. We show these in the table below.

problem solving techniques chart

When should you use a Problem Solving flow chart

There are many many problem tools available.

A flow chart lends itself to be used when:

  • You are looking for a tool that is simple to use
  • You are looking to use a tool that does not require complex software
  • You want to validate a  process.
  • You want something that facilitates collaboration
  • You want something that you can use to communicate with others

7 Tips on creating great problem solving flow charts

1/ Use standard shapes!

2/ Make it easy to follow!

3/ Keep things on one page

4/ Don’t overload your boxes with text

5/ Go into enough detail. Don’t try and simplify activities as it might hide problems from being seen.

6/ Collaborate. Where you can utilize a team to help document the problem and the activities do so. The more knowledge of the process, the better chance you’ll have of locating the issue.

7/ Use a consistent direction to flow your process, moving things around the page can confuse people who might look at it.

A flow chart can provide you with a great advantage when looking to solve problems. Some of the key benefits include

  • A visual aide that’s easy to understand
  • Simple to use, does not require hours and hours of training
  • A tool that facilitates collaboration
  • Effective for aiding communication
  • Provides an effective method of analysing a process

However, as with everything, there are some issues to look out for

  • Flowchart fails to capture all process steps and therefore root cause analysis is hit and miss
  • Lack of knowledge of the process by the individual compiling the flowchart results in inaccurate problem solving
  • Inconsistent flow of process makes maps confusing
  • Complex processes may be better suited to other tools (fishbone etc)
  • Inconsistent formatting and/or use of shapes result in flowchart that is difficult to utilise.

There are a great many tools out there for problem-solving, and flow charts can be used either as a stand-alone tool or conjunction with one of these other tools.

Flowcharts can make for a great problem-solving tool.  

They’re simple to use, effective, and facilitate collaboration.

We hope you’ve found our article useful, in particular the example walkthroughs.

If you’re looking to use the tool, we’d love some feedback from you and hearing how you’ve got on. Why not fire us a message on twitter or use the comments section below.

This article is part of our Problem Solving Guide.   

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Top 10 Problem Solving Templates with Samples and Examples

Top 10 Problem Solving Templates with Samples and Examples

In today's competitive business world, excelling at problem solving is crucial for achieving success. A recent study by McKinsey has shown that companies that are skilled at problem solving tend to outperform their peers in terms of revenue growth and shareholder returns. In fact, the top quartile of problem-solving organizations achieved 50% higher revenue growth and 33% higher total returns to shareholders compared to the bottom quartile. Therefore, it's clear that mastering problem solving is essential for any business to thrive.

Finding effective solutions to business challenges, however, can be daunting. That's where SlideTeam's Problem-solving Templates come in to provide a step-by-step approach enabling you to break down complex issues into manageable parts and develop effective solutions. We offer a range of templates, including SWOT analysis, Fishbone diagrams, and Root Cause Analysis, that will equip you with the tools you need to tackle any business problem.

Problem-Solving Templates

If you're tired of struggling to find solutions to the challenges your business faces, explore these Problem-Solving Templates. Don't let obstacles hold your business back – try our templates today and take your business to the next level.

Let’s begin.

Template 1: Organizational Problem-Solving Tool PowerPoint Presentation

For an organization, problem-solving is required in all its operational aspects-right, from planning, controlling, marketing, and manufacturing to managing financial aspects, products as well as customers. This PPT template presents slides that enable an organization to analyze information across all its operations and departments and identify problems and then solve these problems. This editable PPT Template enables an organization to plan its progress path by allocating the right people and resources to solve problems.

Organizational Problem Solving Tool

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Template 2: Problem Solving Approach Business Organizational Analysis Assessment Systems

This editable PPT Template with its attractive graphics and design, enables any business to adopt the right approach to problem-solving. The template enables any organization to analyze different approaches like three-phase approach, collaborative approach, strategy-based approach, etc.

Problem Solving Approach

Template 3: Sample A3 Problem Solving Report Collection of Quality Control Templates PPT Diagrams

This easy-to-use PPT template helps organizations solve problems related to quality control. Using this template, an organization can identify the root cause of the problem and the background of the problem and formulate a plan of action to solve the problem. It includes sections for the current situation, checking, acting, and rectifying the errors.

Sample A3 Problem Solving Report

Template 4: Sample A3 Problem Solving Report

This customizable and readily downloadable PPT template enables an organization to solve problems that are reflected in quality assurance reports. Any business can identify a quality-related problem, its background, its cause, as well as other aspects of the problem and then find the best solution to the problem using this template.

Sample A3 Problem Solving Report

Template 5: Optimizing Transformation Strawman Proposal

For any organization, it is important to achieve operational efficiency. However, several issues are often faced when it comes to the operational aspects of a business, and identifying these is mandatory for an organization. Using this PPT Template, an organization can analyze its operational problems and discuss in detail how technology can be used to solve the problem and bring about a transformation that can help to enhance operational efficiency.

Optimizing Operational Efficiency through Transformation

Template 6: Collaborative Problem Solving and Assessment Approach

This PPT template, available for instant download, helps an organization to use a collaborative problem-solving and assessment approach to analyze problems related to new products, technologies, ideas, etc., and adopt the best practices to solve the problem.

Collaborative Problem Solving and Assessment Approach

Template 7: Situation Complication Resolution Framework for Problem Solving

This attractive PPT Template, with its colorful graphics, enables an organization to adopt the framework model to solve a problem. This model enables any business to analyze the current situation, identify the complications associated with the situation, and then find the solution or the best way to resolve the problem.

Situation Complication Resolution Framework for Problem Solving

Template 8: Five-circle Arrow Process for Problem Solving

This adaptable PPT template, with its attractive design, provides a five-circle arrow process for solving problems related to any aspect of the organization. Using this PPT template, an organization can define a problem, generate new ideas to solve the problem, evaluate and select solutions and implement and evaluate the solutions to ensure that the problem gets solved in the most optimal manner.

Five Circle Arrow Process for Problem Solving

Template 9: 3-Step Process of Problem-solving Analysis

The process of problem-solving is not always easy because, most of the time, a business fails to identify the problem. Using this customizable PPT Template, a business can adopt a 3-step approach to problem-solving. With the help of this template, an organization can implement the stages of problem identification, problem analysis, and solution development to solve the problem in the most effective manner.

3 Step Process of Problem Solving Analysis

Template 10: 6 segments of problem-solving model

This PPT template presents 6 steps to solve a problem that an organization may face in any of its operational aspects. This PPT template is easy to edit and enables any business to adopt the stages of defining a problem, determining the root cause of the problem, evaluating the outcome, selecting a solution, implementing the solution, and developing alternative solutions. This model, when adopted by an organization, enables it to find the most optimal solution to the problem.

6 Segments of Problem Solving Model

The Final Word

Every problem is a gift - without problems, we would not grow." - Tony Robbins. This quote highlights the importance of embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and development. When businesses approach problem-solving with a positive mindset and a willingness to learn, they can turn even the most challenging situations into valuable learning experiences.

Now that you know how using problem-solving templates can assist you in streamlining the entire process, it’s time to download these templates and get started.

FAQs on Problem-Solving

What are the 7 steps to problem-solving.

A business, during its operations, may face several problems that need to be solved so that the problem does not impact the organization in an adverse manner. However, to solve a problem in the most efficient manner, a business must adopt a seven-step approach to problem-solving. These steps include:

  • Identifying the problem.
  • Analyzing the problem.
  • Describing the problem and all its parameters.
  • Identifying the root cause of the problem.
  • Developing solutions to solve the problem.
  • Implementing the solution that seems to be the most effective.
  • Measuring the results.

Why is problem-solving important?

Problem-solving enables an organization to handle unexpected situations or face challenges that it may face during its operations. For every organization, problem-solving is important as it enables the organization to:

  • Identify activities, processes, and people that are not working in an efficient manner.
  • Identify risks and address these risks.
  • Implement changes when required.
  • Enhance performance and productivity.
  • Innovate and execute new ideas.
  • Make effective decisions.

What are the five problem-solving skills?

Problem-solving is not an easy task, and any consultant in the organization who works to solve problems needs to exhibit some specific skills. These skills include but are not limited to:

  • Creativity that enables the consultant to assess and analyze the problem from various perspectives to come up with the best idea.
  • Communication to ensure that the problem and its solutions are easily communicated with others in the organization.
  • Teamwork so that everyone in the team can work to solve the problem.
  • Critical analysis to think analytically about a problem and solve it in the best manner possible.
  • Information processing to process and analyze all information that is associated with the problem.

What are the 4 steps of problem-solving?

Problem-solving needs to be carried out using a series of steps that include:

  • Identifying and analyzing the problem so that its cause is known.
  • Planning and determining how to solve the problem by finding various solutions.
  • Implementing the chosen solution to solve the problem.
  • Evaluating solutions to know whether the problem has been resolved or not. 

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