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10 Free Problem Statement Templates in Word & ClickUp

ClickUp Contributor

July 17, 2023

No matter what your position title is, solving problems is likely part of your job description. From project managers to IT team leads to administrative agents at government organizations, we all have to address issues that threaten to derail our objectives. 

One of the best ways to achieve success is to have a process in place to identify and respond to potential risks. Many business owners and managers choose problem statements as an effective option. These tools highlight existing problems, offer context, and are designed to generate discussion for solutions. 

Here, we’ll explain what problem statement templates do and discuss when to use them. Plus, we’ll show you what to look for when choosing one and share 10 free problem statement templates to use in ClickUp and Word. 👀

What is a Problem Statement Template? 

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A problem statement is a project management tool that describes an existing issue that needs to be solved. It explains the current status, lays out a desired solution, and analyzes the scope of the process required to reach the end goal. 

It’s a process tool that encourages creativity when developing potential solutions to issues, rather than highlighting a specific solution.

A problem statement template makes it easier to compile the necessary information and present it to relevant team members. That way everyone on the project knows the goal and can play a part in creating a road map to solve the problem. 💡

Here are four key elements of a problem statement:

  • Current status: Briefly explain the current problem as succinctly as possible and outline a statement of work blueprint
  • Ideal goal: What would the situation look like without the existing problem? Describe what your end goal is in finding a viable solution
  • The reason it matters: Analyze how the problem affects different team members and the company goals. Also, determine the consequences of not addressing the problem
  • Proposal: A problem statement doesn’t have to list solutions. Instead, focus on providing context for research so the team can develop answers creatively

Not all problem statement templates are created equal. You want to choose one that briefly explains the problem, highlights the end goal, and offers room for creative discussion.

A good problem statement template will:

  • Start with a goal: Give your team an objective to aim for. Highlight multiple outcomes and provide context for what an ideal solution will be using an effective problem statement template
  • Explain the specific problem and current state : A good problem-solving template will highlight how the issue prevents you from reaching the stated objective
  • Identify knowledge gaps: You can’t find a solution if you don’t have all the relevant data. Use the template to describe what information you’re missing and what data you need to come up with possible solutions
  • Avoid proposing a specific solution: The goal here is to generate ideas and creative discussion. There’s more than one solution to a problem, so instead of laying out one solution, offer a framework for coming up with answers and ideas

10 Problem Statement Templates to Use in 2023

Problem statements take time to draft, especially if you’re using them repeatedly as part of your workflows. To cut down on time creating these useful documents, turn to problem statement templates.

These handy tools make it easy to outline the problem and turn it into actionable insights while getting input from your team.

Ready to start improving your processes? We’ve gathered 10 of the best problem statement templates to streamline how you respond and adapt to issues. From incident reports and remediation plans to addressing customer problems, you’ll find what you need to address issues that matter at your company.

Here are the best problem statement templates to use whether you work in IT for the government, run a small product agency, or head human resources at a midsize firm. 🛠️

ClickUp Customer Problem Statement Templates

Use ClickUp’s Customer Problem Statement Template to identify common customer issues to develop products and services that better address customers’ needs. Fill in the customer profile section to keep track of different audience needs. 

Next, break down what that type of customer wants, and what roadblocks prevent them from their goals during the customer journey . Be sure to give context on why those issues are present—as well as a proposed solution.

Create new pages for each problem and share each one with the relevant team members. Generate tasks to break down the teamwork based on department, and use the different ClickUp views to keep the team on schedule and monitor results across problem statements. ✅

ClickUp Root Cause Analysis Template

Before you can lay out a road map to success, you need to anticipate the root cause of a problem. Create a concise problem statement and improve your decision-making process by using the Root Cause Analysis Template from ClickUp .

This problem statement template breaks the bigger problem down into a list of issues, making them easier to assign to various team members. It’s an effective tool for predicting issues and laying the groundwork to prevent them from derailing a project.

Use the nine custom fields to draft problem statement examples and tasks for the team to tackle. Add priority to the most pressing issues, and hop into the Needs Action view to see what’s in progress and to track issues that still need to be addressed.

Problem statement templates: ClickUp A3 Action Plan Template

As a project lead, an action plan is your best friend. It highlights stakeholders, provides a roadmap to success, and offers metrics to gauge performance.

With ClickUp’s A3 Action Plan Template , map out long-term projects while staying organized and improving productivity. When using this problem statement template, start by brainstorming to identify and define your business problem statement.

You can collaborate with other team members through ClickUp Docs . After this step, you can gather data, develop a solution, and then create an action plan. 

With the view types in ClickUp’s problem statements, you can monitor goals, timelines, and action steps. Plus, the four custom fields let you manage tasks with breakdowns by department, complexity, progress, and type. 📝

ClickUp Change Management Action Plan Template

Create an action plan for corrective action using ClickUp’s Remediation Action Plan Template . From ideation and methodology processes to execution and integration in workflows, this template makes it easy to come up with solutions for even the most complex problems.

Use the template to identify remediation steps and to automate assigning the tasks to the relevant team members. Assess risk levels, and add priority tags to tasks that need to be addressed immediately. 

Develop an action plan by using custom fields for each risk, and track progress using ClickUp Checklists . These to-do lists populate within the task, making it easy to break down repetitive tasks and incorporate company procedures in your remediation workflows.

Problem statement templates: ClickUp After Action Report Template

Whether you’re midway through a long project or one has just wrapped, you need to assess the process and make adjustments for the future. The After Action Report Template from ClickUp is useful in determining what went well, deciding what needs improvement, and generating new workflows to streamline the process. 

This simple one-page template highlights project participants, the basics of the project, the project scope, and results based on project data. 

Incorporate this template into your workflows as part of a review step. The template is an excellent tool when preparing for employee reviews since it lists the actions they took and documents the overall team workflow. Use this tool to evaluate how well your workflows performed and if anything broke down during the process. 

The ClickUp After Action Report Template also helps you celebrate team success. While it’s easy to focus on what went wrong, this template highlights things that went well and team members that performed .

You can emphasize areas where employees avoided budget issues, overcame resource management issues, and adjusted their workflows to keep the project on track. 🌻

ClickUp Report Work Incident Template

One of the biggest project management challenges is managing safety and correctly recording workplace incidents. With ClickUp’s Report Work Incident Template , you can gather incident reports and compile mitigation procedures in one easy-to-access space. 

In the task card, collect information about a specific incident, and choose from 13 custom fields—including basics like the date of the incident, parties involved, and location. If the local authorities were involved, you can add information on officer contact information and police report filing details. 

In addition to recording the pertinent information, you can suggest a corrective action to improve the processes and prevent a repeat incident.

This template also features seven different view types, so you can get the information you need at a glance. For example, the Incident Report Summary view is excellent for getting a quick overview of what occurred.

The Progress Board and Reports views keep you on top of solutions and how things are getting worked out. 

Problem statement templates: ClickUp Incident Response Report Template

With the Incident Response Report Template from ClickUp , it’s easier than ever to identify threats, draft steps to address the risk, and develop insights from the incident response process. The template includes a simple step-by-step approach to creating an incident report, including sections for risks, next steps, containment, eradication, recovery, and lessons learned.

With this template, report existing incidents, track proposed solutions, and gather intel so that you can adjust your procedures to better address future incidents. Plus, with its five custom fields, you can easily track supporting documents and keep an audit trail of who created, approved, or reviewed an incident report. 

The documentation is also invaluable when responding to legal issues. 👩🏿‍⚖️

IT Incident Report Template by ClickUp

Whether you work in product management or lead an IT team, you know how important it is to stay on top of risks. With ClickUp’s IT Incident Report Template , you can easily track bugs and software issues that affect the performance of your IT system. 

The 14 custom fields offer a high degree of personalization. That means that you can truly leverage this template to meet your specific company needs. 

When using this template, get insight into the IT threat by filling out the basics of the problem, including affected software systems, platforms, and build versions. Next, highlight the severity of each incident and explain the reasons for the incident as well as the impact. 

Finally, lay out a path for solutions, and use the data gathered to inform your incident management process.

Word Problem Statement Templates by

Problem statements are a great way to generate new ideas, support a creative-thinking process, and get buy-in from various team members in different departments. 

This Problem Statement Template from Sample.Net is compatible with MS Word, Google Docs, and Powerpoint. It features a one-page layout explaining the existing problem, a description of the issue, risks, and ideas for solutions.

Use this template to design thinking processes and creatively brainstorm solutions with your team. Each person can share their specific point of view as you work together to develop solutions to the issue and hand. 🏆

Google Docs Research Problem Statement Template by

This simple Research Problem Statement Template makes it easy to draft a quick breakdown of an existing issue and offers support for coming up with solutions. It’s available as a Google Doc, Apple Pages, or MS Word file. 

Save time formatting and use this template to quickly fill out the sections for the description, risks, and solution for your problem statement examples. 

The template features branding customization in such a way that you can add a company logo and contact information if you’re sharing this document with an outside agency that’s supporting your resolution process. Change the color scheme and font style to match other company documentation and to meet branding standards.

Solve Problems Fast and Effectively With ClickUp

With these problem statement templates, you’re well on your way to being a more effective leader and employee. From reporting incidents and tracking IT issues to generating discussions on how to solve common customer problems, these templates are sure to make your work life easier.

Try ClickUp today to create a problem statement that propels your business forward and builds the basis for better products and services. Browse hundreds of free templates to improve your project management style, assist with incident reporting and track performance on all of your objectives. ✨

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Free Lean Six Sigma Templates

By Kate Eby | June 12, 2017

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Lean Six Sigma combines two methods that streamline business processes in order to reduce waste, improve quality, and increase efficiency and product value. Both approaches originated in the manufacturing industry - Lean by Toyota and Six Sigma by Motorola - but today they are used to improve many processes within an organization, from customer support to administration.    The templates provided here are suitable for Yellow, Green, and Black Belts. You’ll find Six Sigma project templates designed to support the different phases of an improvement process, all of which are free to download. Simply click on the link to download and open a template file, and customize it to suit your needs.

Six Sigma Tools

Six Sigma is a quality measurement that represents 3.4 Defects Per Million Opportunities. That’s a lofty goal for many business processes, but you can use Six Sigma methods to improve quality and performance in varying degrees based on the needs and objectives of a business or project. Six Sigma tools range from statistical charts, illustrative diagrams, and data collection methods to project management and process analyzation worksheets. These tools may not be exclusive to Six Sigma, but they can be applied in specific ways to focus on process improvement. The tools required depend on the project requirements and team roles. Depending on one’s training and experience, a Six Sigma professional may be involved in improvement initiatives at the White, Yellow, Green, or Black Belt level. White Belts generally have supporting roles, while Yellow Belts act as team members, Green Belts collect and analyze data, and Black Belts serve as project leaders.    In the following sections, you’ll find a number of free, downloadable templates that you can use as Six Sigma tools.

Project Management Guide

Your one-stop shop for everything project management

problem solving template examples

Project Charter Template

Project Charter Template

This Six Sigma Excel template is designed to help you create a project charter that will serve as an agreement between management and your team. A project charter provides an overview of a project including team roles and responsibilities, financial information, goals, and constraints. Creating a detailed project charter will help define your project and its expected outcome, and provide a high-level roadmap to follow.  

Download Project Charter Template

Excel | Word | Smartsheet

Implementation Plan Template

Implementation Plan Template

It’s important to refer to previous research and planning to help create an effective action plan. Once you know what actions to take, this implementation plan template helps you organize them by priority, assign ownership, track progress, and update the plan as needed. This is an important Six Sigma tool for taking concrete actions toward achieving measurable objectives.

Download Implementation Plan Template

Excel | Smartsheet

Stakeholder Analysis Template

Stakeholder Analysis Template

You can use this template to identify and analyze stakeholders in order to enlist support for a project. The template allows you to closely examine important factors such as issues that may be influencing stakeholders, their vested interest in a project, or the level of influence and support. Understanding the views and expectations of stakeholders can help you anticipate and address issues in advance and move your project toward success.

Download Stakeholder Analysis Template

SWOT Analysis Template

SWOT Analysis Template

Use this SWOT analysis template for strategic planning and to create dynamic PowerPoint presentations. List the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to an idea, process, or organization, and use this information for strategic analysis. Easily add this PowerPoint slide to any presentation for visual communication with project team members or other stakeholders.  

Download SWOT Analysis Template - PPT

PPT | Smartsheet

Fishbone Diagram Template

Fishbone Diagram Template

A fishbone diagram, also known as a cause and effect diagram or Ishikawa diagram, helps  teams brainstorm the causes of a certain event. Use this Six Sigma tool along with the 5 Whys template to determine root causes. One of the benefits of using a fishbone diagram is the visual layout, which makes it easy to compile and view information, and see the relationships between different elements. 

‌ Download Fishbone Diagram Template - Excel

A3 Template

A3 Template

A3 is an approach to problem solving that grew out of Lean Manufacturing at Toyota. The A3 report condenses project information onto a single page in an easy-to-read, graphical format. This A3 template provides sections for describing background information, current conditions, root cause analysis, target conditions, implementation plan, and follow-up.

‌ Download A3 Template - Excel

5 Whys Template

5 Whys Template

A 5 Whys worksheet can help you undertake a root cause analysis to determine the sources of defects or performance issues. After defining the problem, you ask five questions to drill down into why the problem is happening, and track the issue back to its root cause. The final step is to determine what action you should take to eliminate that root cause.

Download 5 Whys Template

 Excel  |  Word | PDF   

Project Prioritization Analysis

Project Prioritization Analysis

This template can help you prioritize and select projects based on various factors, such as likeliness to succeed, cost, and how critical a project is to business processes. Once you collect your data, you can also use a Pareto chart to get a visual representation of the results. This Six Sigma project template is a simple tool that can have a big impact on decision making.

‌ Download Project Prioritization Analysis - Excel

SIPOC Diagram Template

SIPOC Diagram Template

SIPOC stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers. A SIPOC diagram provides a high-level, visual overview of a business process, which is helpful for identifying and summarizing all of the elements in a process improvement project from start to finish. This Excel template provides five columns to create a simple, easy-to-read diagram. 

‌ Download SIPOC Diagram Template - Excel

Communication Plan Template

Communication Plan Template

A communication plan outlines how and when you will communicate a project to stakeholders. Effective messaging is important for securing buy-in as well as ensuring continued support for the duration of a project. Consistent reporting on project progress and milestones can help keep stakeholders informed and engaged.

Download Communication Plan Template

  Excel | PDF

Voice of Customer (VOC) Six Sigma Template

Voice of Customer (VOC) Six Sigma Template

Use this VOC template to gather information about customer expectations and needs. Gaining insight into customer requirements can inform your improvement process and help ensure a successful end product. This template is designed to help you document the voice of the customer and translate those messages into measurable requirements.

‌ Download Voice of Customer (VOC) Template - Excel

Data Collection Plan Template

Data Collection Plan Template

During the “measure” phase of DMAIC, you can use a data collection plan template as a framework for describing what type of data to collect, how to gather it, when, and by whom. This spreadsheet template provides columns for entering data sources and locations, operational definitions, what statistical tools to use, and more. You can also edit the template to include any additional information that is relevant for your project.

‌ Download Data Collection Plan Template - Excel

FMEA Template

FMEA Template

A Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) seeks to prevent possible failures in a design or process. This FMEA template is designed to help you follow a systematic approach to identifying, understanding, and preventing failures. The template includes a section for recording what actions were taken to address each issue, as well as the completion date.

‌ Download FMEA Template - Excel

Control Plan Template

Control Plan Template

During the “control” phase, an effective plan serves as a guide for monitoring process and sustaining improvements. In this simple spreadsheet template, you can document process control activities to help ensure that quality standards continue to be met. Customize the template as needed to create a control plan for your specific project.

‌ Download Control Plan Template - Excel

Cause and Effect Matrix

Cause and Effect Matrix Template

A cause and effect matrix allows you to evaluate and quantify the relationships between process inputs and outputs. Use the matrix to prioritize process inputs based on the level of impact each one has on outputs. Once you collect your data in the matrix, you can also represent the results in a Pareto chart.

‌ Download Cause and Effect Matrix - Excel

Pareto Chart Template

Pareto Chart Template

Use this template to perform a Pareto analysis of your data to determine the frequency of problems or defects occurring in a process. The template provides a typical Pareto diagram, with a bar chart representing whatever issues you want to analyze, and a line graph showing the cumulative percentage of occurrences.

‌ Download Pareto Chart Template - Excel

Tree Diagram Template

Tree Diagram Template

A tree diagram breaks down a central concept, issue, or activity into increasingly smaller components. In Six Sigma, tree diagrams are used for determining root causes, brainstorming ideas related to a central topic, understanding a process from top to bottom, and approaching issues systematically. This is a useful tool for teams at many levels.

‌ Download Tree Diagram Template - Excel

8D Report Template

8D Report Template

This template guides you through the 8D (eight disciplines) approach to problem solving and process improvement. The 8D report includes separate sections for each step, from describing the problem and root causes to identifying corrective actions and ways to prevent reoccurrence. This is a systematic way to help organizations attain their Lean Six Sigma goals.

‌ Download 8D Report Template - Excel

Six Sigma Process Map Template

Six Sigma Process Map Template

Create a process flow diagram using flowchart symbols to show each step in a Six Sigma process. This provides a visual representation of process flow with a map that is easy to understand and modify. As a Six SIgma tool, you can use this template for analyzing and revising a process, and as a communication tool for stakeholders.

‌ Download Six Sigma Process Map Template - Excel

Check Sheet with Histogram Template

Check Sheet with Histogram Template

This template combines a weekly check sheet with a histogram for a graphical representation of defects or issues occurring over time. Enter your data on the check sheet, and the template will automatically create the histogram for your analysis. You can also print the check sheet to collect data by hand.

‌ Download Check Sheet with Histogram Template - Excel

Force Field Analysis Template

Force Field Analysis Template

A force field analysis helps determine what factors are driving or inhibiting efforts to reach a goal. Identifying these forces and rating the strength of each can provide insight on how to maximize the driving forces and reduce inhibiting forces. On the template, list the desired change along with acting forces, then use your analysis to create an action plan.

Download Force Field Analysis Template

  Word  | PDF

How Lean and Six Sigma Work Together

While both Lean and Six Sigma aim to reduce waste, they are distinct methodologies. Six Sigma focuses on reducing defects by limiting variation within a process, while Lean removes unnecessary steps for a more efficient process. Combining these two methodologies can improve business performance by emphasizing both quality improvement and profitability. Learn more about Lean Six Sigma by reading Everything You Need to Know About Lean Six Sigma .   The acronym “DMAIC” represents a key aspect of Lean Six Sigma. DMAIC stands for the five phases of an improvement cycle: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control. You can use these steps as a roadmap for resolving issues with a Six Sigma approach:  

  • Define the project goals or problem to be addressed, internal and external customer requirements, and project boundaries.
  • Measure the current performance of the process and describe the process in quantifiable terms.
  • Analyze the process and identify the root causes of defects and sources of variation.
  • Improve performance by resolving the root causes of issues and eliminating defects.
  • Control future process performance by maintaining improvements.

  Another version of this process is DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify). The DMADV framework is typically applied to new products or services, rather than improving an existing process, or when an existing process has been improved but is not meeting a Six Sigma level. The process is similar to DMAIC but focuses on product or process design and how to implement that design effectively.

Discover How Six Sigma Practitioners use Smartsheet Templates for Optimal Results

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

The Lean Post / Articles / How to Start the A3 Problem-Solving Process

hands holding a paper with A3 template on it

Problem Solving

How to Start the A3 Problem-Solving Process

By David Verble

July 19, 2022

Why the best, most productive way to “start an A3” is by recognizing that the A3 problem-solving methodology is a “slow-thinking” process.

Are you having trouble getting started solving problems using you’re the  A3  problem-solving process ? When I teach workshops on A3 thinking, creation, and use, this comes up as one of the most challenging parts of executing the A3 process .  So if you find yourself looking at a blank sheet of 11-by-17 paper  wondering where to start, here are some thoughts from what I’ve learned doing and teaching the A3 problem-solving methodology for years, which I believe may help you.

The first lesson is simple if counterintuitive. When people ask, “Where do I start to ‘write an A3?’” I reply, “Don’t start with writing.” They generally respond by asking, “Then where do I start?” And my answer is always: “Start with the  thinking .”

Resolving issues using the A3 methodology should involve lots of asking, listening, and communicating …

There are two key points to keep in mind here. First, the A3 report , or storyboard (the written document), is the  result  of A3 thinking, not the  process   of A3 thinking itself. So, the A3 is a way to capture and organize your plan-do-check-act ( PDCA )  problem-solving  thinking, but completing it does not automatically lead to valid A3 thinking.

Second, A3 thinking is a way to  work  systematically through how to address a problem or need. Getting to that result involves understanding the problem or need at a concrete level, understanding the factors in the situation that are barriers to moving to desired conditions, and determining the best options for making changes in the direction you want. And resolving issues using the A3 methodology should involve lots of asking, listening, and communicating throughout to be sure you are getting the knowledge, thinking, concurrence, and support of others who have a stake in the situation.

That’s a lot of work and thinking. And it can’t be accomplished by simply starting to fill in the boxes in the A3.

Use the A3 as a Guide

When starting an A3 problem-solving initiative, you should consider the blank A3 merely as a guide leading you through the problem-solving process, one “box,” or step, at a time. But at each stage, you must first think about and investigate the problem situation and only then record your thinking.  

However, do not expect to complete the process sequentially. As you work through the A3 methodology and complete the storyboard, you will continue learning about your problem situation. So, be prepared to go back and revise what you wrote earlier as you get deeper into the problem. 

The A3 process and the storyboard that results must also tell a problem-solving story that is convincing to others …

Understanding and following these guidelines are crucial to a successful A3 problem-solving because the A3 process must do more than identify a resolution to the problem. The A3 process and the storyboard that results must also tell a problem-solving story that is convincing to others — that brings them along in a thinking process and demonstrates the actions you are recommending make sense. Gaining this buy-in requires getting as many facts as possible in a reasonable time and having the right facts to support your conclusions. Unfortunately, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to create such a convincing story using “fast thinking.”

Why ‘Slow Thinking’ is Vital to A3 Thinking

The difference between “Fast Thinking” and “Slow Thinking” and the importance of the difference between the two is described in a book by Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his behavioral research on human judgment. The book summarizes 25 years of research, by Kahneman and others, on the basic patterns in how humans solve problems and make decisions. He contends that our brains have two different thinking systems, one that works fast and one that is slow.

  • System 1, our fast-thinking system,  houses our emotions and intuition, and it processes information and makes decisions automatically. “What you see is what there is” basically describes our minds jumping to conclusions, drawing simply on what is in front of us without looking for further evidence or data.  
  • System 2, the slow-thinking system,  describes the part of the brain that gets engaged in rational, logical thought, concentration, and fact-based judgments. It saves us from many of the runaway knee-jerk reactions of System 1. However, its influence on our problem-solving and decision-making habits is limited because of our automatic reliance on System 1.

If Kahneman’s claim is valid — and he makes a pretty good case for it with the research — it contains a couple of important messages for anyone thinking about putting themselves on the line as the owner of an A3. First, go-fast, jump-to-solution (or action), take-what-you-see-and-run-with-it thinking seems to be our default problem-solving and decision-making process. That means we have to be excellent at seeing and 100% accurate in our impressions, assumptions, and intuitions to hit the mark with our solutions and decisions. 

Second, the alternative of slow, systematic, getting-the-facts-and-knowing-the-actual conditions reasoning is not a natural act for most of us. That means we must make an effort to slow down when we start work on an A3 because our preferred thinking style is unlikely to produce a problem-solving story that will stand up to scrutiny when we make claims about what action should be taken based on it.I have had the experience of being out there on an A3 limb making claims without the facts to support them, and it’s not fun — unless you just like pain and embarrassment. That is why I advise anyone needing to do an A3 to prepare for the work ahead by trying to activate the slow-thinking system in their brain. 

Editor’s Note:  This Lean Post  is an updated version of an article published July 18, 2012, one of the most popular posts about this vital lean practice.

Managing to Learn

An Introduction to A3 Leadership and Problem-Solving.

Written by:

problem solving template examples

About David Verble

A performance improvement consultant and leadership coach since 2000, David has been an LEI faculty member for 17 years. Recognized as one of the first Toyota-trained managers to bring A3 thinking from Japan to the United States, he has conducted A3 problem-solving and leadership programs for 30 years. Overall, his…

Thank you very much! Very educational, one thing I would like to contribute is most of the people doesn’t want to think and the prioritize so that’s a reason for some A3 not make sense

Thank you David. It was great and useful.

Excellent insights into the making of A3 Report. A3 physical Report being a Result rather than a Process was an eye opener!

Couldn’t agree more that A3 problem-solving is about thinking, not writing. That said, I often find it helpful to think through the issues by drawing / sketching the A3, or at least things that I might want to include in it. in other words, writing and drawing help me think. Also, let’s not forget that the A3 is at least as important as a basis for discussion and dialog and consensus-building, probably more so, than it is for documentation. As our friend John Shook once said, it takes two to A3. Thanks for the great post, David!

I had read most of them posts. And they are all very helpful and educational, this one here is the most powerful positive influencia involving the fast, the slow thinking and judgment I appreciate it thanks so much

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Problem framing template

By atlassian.

Discover the underlying causes of a problem

Problem framing template

Before you can come up with new solutions and project plans, it’s important to take a step back and analyze the problem thoroughly. That way, you can be sure you’re investing your team’s time and resources effectively. Use the problem framing template to run the Problem Framing Play . Created by Atlassian Team Playbook coaches, the Problem Framing Play is a team exercise that helps uncover the who, what, where, when, and why of a business problem.

How to use the problem framing template

Step 1. prepare for collaboration.

Start by organizing all the resources you need to collaborate. Add information about your team and type // to add the meeting’s date to the template. Share the template with your team and invite them to add questions and comments before you meet. If you’re meeting in person, book a room with a whiteboard, markers, and sticky notes.

Step 2. Brainstorm the problem

When you meet with your team, start by explaining the goal of the meeting. Once you’ve set the stage, take a step back and think about the problem as a whole from the perspective of the people affected by it. Use the template to organize your thoughts about the problem’s causes and its impact on business.

Step 3. Create a problem statement

Using the ideas generated by the team, craft one concise problem statement that sums up the issue from the customer’s perspective. The problem statement should include who is affected, what is affecting them, why it needs to be solved, and where the problem is happening. Once you’ve created a problem statement, share the page with teammates that didn’t attend the meeting and ask them to leave comments.

Atlassian is an enterprise software company that develops products for software developers, project managers, and content management.

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  • Problem management: 8 steps to better p ...

Problem management: 8 steps to better problem solving

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshot

Problem management is an 8 step framework most commonly used by IT teams. You can use problem management to solve for repeating major incidents. By organizing and structuring your problem solving, you can more effectively get to the root cause of high-impact problems—and devise a solution. Solving the root cause prevents recurrence and creates a repeatable solution to use on similar errors in the future.

In an IT department, errors and mishaps are part of the job. You can't always control these problems, but you can control how you respond to them with problem management. Problem management helps you solve larger problems and reduce the risk that they’ll happen again by identifying all connected problems, solving them, and planning for the future.

What is problem management?

Problem management is an 8 step framework most commonly used by IT teams. Your team can use problem management to solve for repeating major incidents. By organizing and structuring your problem solving, you can more effectively get to the root cause of high-impact problems—and devise a solution. Problem management is a process—used mostly by IT teams—to identify, react, and respond to issues. It’s not for every problem, but it’s a useful response when multiple major incidents occur that cause large work interruptions. Unlike problem solving, problem management goes beyond the initial incident to discover and dissect the root causes, preventing future incidents with permanent solutions.

The goals of problem management are to:

Prevent problems before they start.

Solve for repetitive errors.

Lessen each incident’s impact. 

Problem management vs. incident management 

Example: Someone leaves their unprotected laptop in a coffee shop, causing a security breach. The security team can use incident management to solve for this one, isolated event. In this case, the team could manually shut down the accounts connected to that laptop. If this continues to happen, IT would use problem management to solve the root of this issue—perhaps installing more security features on each company laptop so that if employees lose them, no one else can access the information.

Problem management vs. problem solving

While similar in name, problem management differs slightly from problem-solving. Problem management focuses on every aspect of the incident—identifying the root cause of the problem, solving it, and prevention. Problem solving is, as the name implies, focused solely on the solution step. 

Example: You’re launching a new password management system when it crashes—again. You don’t know if anything leaked, but you know it could contain confidential information. Plus, it’s happened before. You start the problem management process to ensure it doesn’t happen again. In that process, you’ll use problem solving as a step to fix the issue. In this case, perhaps securing confidential information before you try to launch a new software.

Problem management vs. change management 

Change management targets large transitions within your workplace, good and bad. These inevitable changes aren’t always negative, so you can’t always apply problem management as a solution. That’s where change management comes in—a framework that helps you adjust to any new scenario.

Example: Your company is transitioning to a new cloud platform. The transition happens incident-free—meaning you won’t need problem management—but you can ease the transition by implementing some change management best practices. Preparing and training team members in the new software is a good place to start.

Problem management vs. project management

Project management is the framework for larger collections of work. It’s the overarching method for how you work on any project, hit goals, and get results. You can use project management to help you with problem management, but they are not the same thing. Problem management and project management work together to solve issues as part of your problem management process.

Example: During problem management, you uncover a backend security issue that needs to be addressed—employees are using storage software with outdated security measures. To solve this, you create a project and outline the tasks from start to finish. In this case, you might need to alert senior executives, get approval to remove the software, and alert employees. You create a project schedule with a defined timeline and assign the tasks to relevant teams. In this process, you identified a desired outcome—remove the unsafe software—and solved it. That’s project management.

The 8 steps of problem management

It’s easy to get upset when problems occur. In fact, it’s totally normal. But an emotional response is not always the best response when faced with new incidents. Having a reliable system—such as problem management—removes the temptation to respond emotionally. Proactive project management gives your team a framework for problem solving. It’s an iterative process —the more you use it, the more likely you are to have fewer problems, faster response times, and better outputs. 

1. Identify the problem

During problem identification, you’re looking at the present—what’s happening right now? Here, you’ll define what the incident is and its scale. Is this a small, quick-fix, or a full overhaul? Consider using problem framing to define, prioritize, and understand the obstacles involved with these more complex problems. 

2. Diagnose the cause

Use problem analysis or root cause analysis to strategically look at the cause of a problem. Follow the trail of issues all the way back to its beginnings.

To diagnose the underlying cause, you’ll want to answer:

What factors or conditions led to the incident?

Do you see related incidents? Could those be coming from the same source?

Did someone miss a step? Are processes responsible for this problem?

3. Organize and prioritize

Now it’s time to build out your framework. Use an IT project plan to organize information in a space where everyone can make and see updates in real time. The easiest way to do this is with a project management tool where you can input ‌tasks, assign deadlines, and add dependencies to ensure nothing gets missed. To better organize your process, define:

What needs to be done? 

Who’s responsible for each aspect? If no one is, can we assign someone? 

When does each piece need to be completed?

What is the final number of incidents related to this problem?

Are any of these tasks dependent on another one? Do you need to set up dependencies ?

What are your highest priorities? How do they affect our larger business goals ? 

How should you plan for this in the future?

4. Create a workaround

If the incident has stopped work or altered it, you might need to create a workaround. This is not always necessary, but temporary workarounds can keep work on track and avoid backlog while you go through the problem management steps. When these workarounds are especially effective, you can make them permanent processes.

5. Update your known error database

Every time an incident occurs, create a known error record and add it to your known error database (KEDB). Recording incidents helps you catch recurrences and logs the solution, so you know how to solve similar errors in the future. 

[product ui] Incident log example (lists)

6. Pause for change management (if necessary)

Larger, high-impact problems might require change management. For example, if you realize the problem’s root cause is a lack of staff, you might dedicate team members to help. You can use change management to help them transition their responsibilities, see how these new roles fit in with the entire team, and determine how they will collaborate moving forward.

7. Solve the problem

This is the fun part—you get to resolve problems. At this stage, you should know exactly what you’re dealing with and the steps you need to take. But remember—with problem management, it’s not enough to solve the current problem. You’ll want to take any steps to prevent this from happening again in the future. That could mean hiring a new role to cover gaps in workflows , investing in new softwares and tools, or training staff on best practices to prevent these types of incidents.

Read: Turn your team into skilled problem solvers with these problem-solving strategies

8. Reflect on the process

The problem management process has the added benefit of recording the process in its entirety, so you can review it in the future. Once you’ve solved the problem, take the time to review each step and reflect on the lessons learned during this process. Make note of who was involved, what you needed, and any opportunities to improve your response to the next incident. After you go through the problem management process a few times and understand the basic steps, stakeholders, workload, and resources you need, create a template to make the kickoff process easier in the future.

5 benefits of problem management

Problem management helps you discover every piece of the problem—from the current scenario down to its root cause. Not only does this have an immediate positive impact on the current issue at hand, it also promotes collaboration and helps to build a better product overall. 

Here are five other ways ‌problem management can benefit your team:

Avoids repeat incidents. When you manage the entire incident from start to finish, you will address the foundational problems that caused it. This leads to fewer repeat incidents.

Boosts cross-functional collaboration. Problem management is a collaborative process. One incident might require collaboration from IT, the security team, and legal. Depending on the level of the problem, it might trickle all the way back down to the product or service team, where core changes need to be made.

Creates a better user experience. It’s simple—the fewer incidents you have, the better your customer’s experience will be. Reducing incidents means fewer delays, downtime, and frustrations for your users, and a higher rate of customer satisfaction.

Improves response time. As you develop a flow and framework with a project management process, you’ll be better equipped to handle future incidents—even if they’re different scenarios.

Organizes problem solving. Problem management provides a structured, thoughtful approach to solving problems. This reduces impulsive responses and helps you keep a better problem record of incidents and solutions.

Problem management leads to better, faster solutions

IT teams will always have to deal with incidents, but they don’t have to be bogged down by them. That’s because problem management works. Whether you employ a full problem management team or choose to apply these practices to your current IT infrastructure, problem management—especially when combined with a project management tool—saves you time and effort down the road.

With IT project plans, we’ve made it easier than ever to track your problem management work in a shared tool. Try our free IT project template to see your work come together, effortlessly.

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A3 Problem Solving Template

A3 Problem Solving Template

A3 thinking is a logical and structured approach to problem solving adopted by Lean organizations around the world. It can be used for most kinds of problems and in any part of the business. This A3 template uses a four stages model that is based on the PDCA management philosophy. It makes the problem-solving progress visible to the entire team while allowing the lessons to be learned by others.

This template is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that you can use and modify to meet your specific requirements. For example, you may expand the implementation or follow-up plans by increasing the number of rows. The template is available in two variations: a user-friendly straightforward version, and a more detailed one that requires providing in-depth information.

A3 Template (32 KB)

A3 Template – Simple (216 KB)

A3 Template – Detailed (340 KB)

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Problem Solving PowerPoint Templates

Make your presentations stand out with our Problem-Solving templates and PowerPoint and Google Slides slide designs. These templates are easy to edit and can help you create presentations about solving problems, finding solutions, and making decisions.

After downloading them, you can personalize these templates by changing the text boxes’ words. You can further change the color of the design to suit your organization’s color.

Our PowerPoint templates work with both Mac and Windows computers. They are also compatible with Keynote and Google Slides. Use any of these slide layouts to captivate your audience and end your presentation with applause.

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Fishbone Diagram PowerPoint Template

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Backcasting Slide Template for PowerPoint

Problem-solving is required in all the operational aspects of an organization, from planning, controlling, marketing, and manufacturing to managing financial aspects, products, and customers. Our Problem Solution Slide Templates catalog presents slides that will help you analyze data across organization operations and departments to identify problems and then solve these problems.

Our Problem and Solution Slides will enable you as an organization to plan its progress path by allocating the right people and resources to solve problems. You can describe a problem-solving process visually using a slide show.

Solving certain problems can be tough, but using our pre-designed Problem-Solving Templates, you can explain the reasoning behind the solution of a problem. Combining these slides with other problem-solving techniques and tools, like the root-cause analysis slides , the 5-Why slides, or the fishbone templates , individuals and business professionals can prepare compelling presentations explaining how to solve an easy or difficult problem.

What Is A Problem Statement Slide?

A problem statement slide is a visual component to analyze and present your organizational problem and a suitable solution. It is meant to outline the specific issue or challenge that a project, initiative, or proposal aims to address.

How Do You Write A Problem-Solution Presentation?

Writing a problem solution presentation involves effectively communicating the details of a problem, your proposed solution, and the rationale behind it to your audience. Remember that an effective problem-solution presentation informs, inspires, and motivates your audience to take action.

Can I Customize The Problem Statement Slides For My Specific Needs?

You can customize the problem statement slides to suit your unique requirements. You can modify the text, colors, and fonts and add visuals to align the presentation with your style and content.

What Are The 7 Steps Of A Problem-Solving Template?

A problem-solving template can change based on the situation and the specific problem you’re dealing with. Here’s a basic outline of seven steps that are usually included:

  • Define the Problem: Clearly explain the problem you want to solve. Know the background, scope, and goals of the problem.
  • Gather Information: Collect useful data and facts about the problem.
  • It might involve research, talking to people, surveys, and studying data. The idea is to get a good grasp of what’s going on.
  • Generate Potential Solutions: Come up with different ideas to solve the problem.
  • Evaluate Options: Evaluate the solutions you thought of. Look at things like if they did work, how much they cost, and what could go right or wrong. It helps you choose the most promising solutions.
  • Select a Solution: Decide on the best solution based on your evaluation.
  • Implement the Solution: Put your chosen solution into action. Make a detailed plan, get the things you need, and do things step by step.
  • Monitor and Review: Check how well the solution works. Get feedback, track progress, and see if it’s doing what you wanted. If needed, make changes based on the feedback you get.

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26 Good Examples of Problem Solving (Interview Answers)

By Biron Clark

Published: November 15, 2023

Employers like to hire people who can solve problems and work well under pressure. A job rarely goes 100% according to plan, so hiring managers will be more likely to hire you if you seem like you can handle unexpected challenges while staying calm and logical in your approach.

But how do they measure this?

They’re going to ask you interview questions about these problem solving skills, and they might also look for examples of problem solving on your resume and cover letter. So coming up, I’m going to share a list of examples of problem solving, whether you’re an experienced job seeker or recent graduate.

Then I’ll share sample interview answers to, “Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?”

Problem-Solving Defined

It is the ability to identify the problem, prioritize based on gravity and urgency, analyze the root cause, gather relevant information, develop and evaluate viable solutions, decide on the most effective and logical solution, and plan and execute implementation. 

Problem-solving also involves critical thinking, communication , listening, creativity, research, data gathering, risk assessment, continuous learning, decision-making, and other soft and technical skills.

Solving problems not only prevent losses or damages but also boosts self-confidence and reputation when you successfully execute it. The spotlight shines on you when people see you handle issues with ease and savvy despite the challenges. Your ability and potential to be a future leader that can take on more significant roles and tackle bigger setbacks shine through. Problem-solving is a skill you can master by learning from others and acquiring wisdom from their and your own experiences. 

It takes a village to come up with solutions, but a good problem solver can steer the team towards the best choice and implement it to achieve the desired result.

Watch: 26 Good Examples of Problem Solving

Examples of problem solving scenarios in the workplace.

  • Correcting a mistake at work, whether it was made by you or someone else
  • Overcoming a delay at work through problem solving and communication
  • Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer
  • Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the use of creative problem solving
  • Overcoming a scheduling/staffing shortage in the department to still deliver excellent work
  • Troubleshooting and resolving technical issues
  • Handling and resolving a conflict with a coworker
  • Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc.
  • Taking initiative when another team member overlooked or missed something important
  • Taking initiative to meet with your superior to discuss a problem before it became potentially worse
  • Solving a safety issue at work or reporting the issue to those who could solve it
  • Using problem solving abilities to reduce/eliminate a company expense
  • Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.
  • Changing how a process, team, or task is organized to make it more efficient
  • Using creative thinking to come up with a solution that the company hasn’t used before
  • Performing research to collect data and information to find a new solution to a problem
  • Boosting a company or team’s performance by improving some aspect of communication among employees
  • Finding a new piece of data that can guide a company’s decisions or strategy better in a certain area

Problem Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry Level Job Seekers

  • Coordinating work between team members in a class project
  • Reassigning a missing team member’s work to other group members in a class project
  • Adjusting your workflow on a project to accommodate a tight deadline
  • Speaking to your professor to get help when you were struggling or unsure about a project
  • Asking classmates, peers, or professors for help in an area of struggle
  • Talking to your academic advisor to brainstorm solutions to a problem you were facing
  • Researching solutions to an academic problem online, via Google or other methods
  • Using problem solving and creative thinking to obtain an internship or other work opportunity during school after struggling at first

You can share all of the examples above when you’re asked questions about problem solving in your interview. As you can see, even if you have no professional work experience, it’s possible to think back to problems and unexpected challenges that you faced in your studies and discuss how you solved them.

Interview Answers to “Give an Example of an Occasion When You Used Logic to Solve a Problem”

Now, let’s look at some sample interview answers to, “Give me an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem,” since you’re likely to hear this interview question in all sorts of industries.

Example Answer 1:

At my current job, I recently solved a problem where a client was upset about our software pricing. They had misunderstood the sales representative who explained pricing originally, and when their package renewed for its second month, they called to complain about the invoice. I apologized for the confusion and then spoke to our billing team to see what type of solution we could come up with. We decided that the best course of action was to offer a long-term pricing package that would provide a discount. This not only solved the problem but got the customer to agree to a longer-term contract, which means we’ll keep their business for at least one year now, and they’re happy with the pricing. I feel I got the best possible outcome and the way I chose to solve the problem was effective.

Example Answer 2:

In my last job, I had to do quite a bit of problem solving related to our shift scheduling. We had four people quit within a week and the department was severely understaffed. I coordinated a ramp-up of our hiring efforts, I got approval from the department head to offer bonuses for overtime work, and then I found eight employees who were willing to do overtime this month. I think the key problem solving skills here were taking initiative, communicating clearly, and reacting quickly to solve this problem before it became an even bigger issue.

Example Answer 3:

In my current marketing role, my manager asked me to come up with a solution to our declining social media engagement. I assessed our current strategy and recent results, analyzed what some of our top competitors were doing, and then came up with an exact blueprint we could follow this year to emulate our best competitors but also stand out and develop a unique voice as a brand. I feel this is a good example of using logic to solve a problem because it was based on analysis and observation of competitors, rather than guessing or quickly reacting to the situation without reliable data. I always use logic and data to solve problems when possible. The project turned out to be a success and we increased our social media engagement by an average of 82% by the end of the year.

Answering Questions About Problem Solving with the STAR Method

When you answer interview questions about problem solving scenarios, or if you decide to demonstrate your problem solving skills in a cover letter (which is a good idea any time the job description mention problem solving as a necessary skill), I recommend using the STAR method to tell your story.

STAR stands for:

It’s a simple way of walking the listener or reader through the story in a way that will make sense to them. So before jumping in and talking about the problem that needed solving, make sure to describe the general situation. What job/company were you working at? When was this? Then, you can describe the task at hand and the problem that needed solving. After this, describe the course of action you chose and why. Ideally, show that you evaluated all the information you could given the time you had, and made a decision based on logic and fact.

Finally, describe a positive result you got.

Whether you’re answering interview questions about problem solving or writing a cover letter, you should only choose examples where you got a positive result and successfully solved the issue.

Example answer:

Situation : We had an irate client who was a social media influencer and had impossible delivery time demands we could not meet. She spoke negatively about us in her vlog and asked her followers to boycott our products. (Task : To develop an official statement to explain our company’s side, clarify the issue, and prevent it from getting out of hand). Action : I drafted a statement that balanced empathy, understanding, and utmost customer service with facts, logic, and fairness. It was direct, simple, succinct, and phrased to highlight our brand values while addressing the issue in a logical yet sensitive way.   We also tapped our influencer partners to subtly and indirectly share their positive experiences with our brand so we could counter the negative content being shared online.  Result : We got the results we worked for through proper communication and a positive and strategic campaign. The irate client agreed to have a dialogue with us. She apologized to us, and we reaffirmed our commitment to delivering quality service to all. We assured her that she can reach out to us anytime regarding her purchases and that we’d gladly accommodate her requests whenever possible. She also retracted her negative statements in her vlog and urged her followers to keep supporting our brand.

What Are Good Outcomes of Problem Solving?

Whenever you answer interview questions about problem solving or share examples of problem solving in a cover letter, you want to be sure you’re sharing a positive outcome.

Below are good outcomes of problem solving:

  • Saving the company time or money
  • Making the company money
  • Pleasing/keeping a customer
  • Obtaining new customers
  • Solving a safety issue
  • Solving a staffing/scheduling issue
  • Solving a logistical issue
  • Solving a company hiring issue
  • Solving a technical/software issue
  • Making a process more efficient and faster for the company
  • Creating a new business process to make the company more profitable
  • Improving the company’s brand/image/reputation
  • Getting the company positive reviews from customers/clients

Every employer wants to make more money, save money, and save time. If you can assess your problem solving experience and think about how you’ve helped past employers in those three areas, then that’s a great start. That’s where I recommend you begin looking for stories of times you had to solve problems.

Tips to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills

Throughout your career, you’re going to get hired for better jobs and earn more money if you can show employers that you’re a problem solver. So to improve your problem solving skills, I recommend always analyzing a problem and situation before acting. When discussing problem solving with employers, you never want to sound like you rush or make impulsive decisions. They want to see fact-based or data-based decisions when you solve problems.

Next, to get better at solving problems, analyze the outcomes of past solutions you came up with. You can recognize what works and what doesn’t. Think about how you can get better at researching and analyzing a situation, but also how you can get better at communicating, deciding the right people in the organization to talk to and “pull in” to help you if needed, etc.

Finally, practice staying calm even in stressful situations. Take a few minutes to walk outside if needed. Step away from your phone and computer to clear your head. A work problem is rarely so urgent that you cannot take five minutes to think (with the possible exception of safety problems), and you’ll get better outcomes if you solve problems by acting logically instead of rushing to react in a panic.

You can use all of the ideas above to describe your problem solving skills when asked interview questions about the topic. If you say that you do the things above, employers will be impressed when they assess your problem solving ability.

If you practice the tips above, you’ll be ready to share detailed, impressive stories and problem solving examples that will make hiring managers want to offer you the job. Every employer appreciates a problem solver, whether solving problems is a requirement listed on the job description or not. And you never know which hiring manager or interviewer will ask you about a time you solved a problem, so you should always be ready to discuss this when applying for a job.

Related interview questions & answers:

  • How do you handle stress?
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed

Biron Clark

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Problem Solving Templates

4 L's Retrospective

4 L’s is a quick retrospective that helps teams find what they liked, learned, lacked, and longed for on a topic or project.

5 why's

5 Whys is an effective brainstorming tool that helps identify problems and gets to the root causes so you can focus on solutions.

6 thinking hats technique

6 Thinking Hats Technique

Six Thinking Hats provides direction to decision-making and group thinking. To help teams generate and evaluate different points of view.

A3 problem solving

A3 Problem Solving

A3 Problem Solving is a problem-solving and continuous-improvement approach. Effectively communicates project status and provides structure to the strategic decision-making process.

ADDIE model


The ADDIE model is a process used by instructional designers and training developers. The five components are Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation, a flexible guideline for building practical training, and performance support tools.

Affinity diagram template

Affinity Diagram

Affinity Diagrams are a method that helps you organize a large number of ideas into their natural relationships, typically born out from brainstorming sessions.

Cause & effect

Cause & Effect

Cause & effect templates are exceptional at visually identifying problems by focusing on cause and effect.

Customer problem statement

Customer Problem Statement

Customer Problem Statements are detailed descriptions of customer issues and needs for your team to address.

Cynefin framework

Cynefin Framework

Cynefin Framework assists in thinking through a situation resulting in better decisions through critical assessment.

DMAIC process

DMAIC Process

DMAIC process is a helpful template to solve problems using the roadmap to (D) Define, (M) Measure, (A) Analyze, (I) Improve and (C) Control a particular issue or problem.

Dot voting

The dot voting template can help you collaborate and vote on ideas with your team. Brainstorm problems or solutions and decide the next steps. Bringing teams to an agreement effortlessly.

Empathy map

Empathy Map

Empathy Maps are a visual tool that helps you get to know your customers. By understanding what your customers think, feel, say, and do, you can develop rich insight to identify genuine issues, problems, or concerns with your customers.

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Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone Diagrams are exceptional at visually identifying problems by focusing on cause and effect.

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Flow Chart Blank

Process Charts allow your team to create a process for new projects or refine and improve how existing processes work, resulting in effective communication and collaboration.

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Flow Chart Blank 2

Gap analysis

Gap Analysis

Gap Analysis compares actual performance or results with what was expected or wanted. Teams can learn from the difference and produce better outcomes in the future.

KPT (Keep, problem & try)

KPT (Keep, Problem & Try)

KPT (i.e., Keep, Problem & Try) are retrospectives for meetings that teams use to reflect on their project, assess what your team wants to keep doing, what problems they are facing, and what they want to try out.

KWL chart

KWL is a popular that asks teams to feedback on positives and negatives of a topic or project.

Lean startup canvas

Lean Startup Canvas

Lean UX canvas

Lean UX Canvas

Lean UX is a tool that helps your team dissect and solve your business problems and determines success by measuring results against a benefit hypothesis.

Look mock analyze

Look Mock Analyze

Look, Mock, Analyze inspires discovery, outlining the issue, mocking up solutions, and analyzing the scenario with instant feedback.

Mind map

A mind map involves writing down a central theme and thinking of new and related ideas which radiate out from the center. By focusing on key ideas written down in your own words and looking for connections between them, you can map knowledge to help you better understand and retain information. They are great when you need to think creatively and can help you make new connections between ideas.

Mind map 2

Post-mortem Analysis

A post-mortem Analysis is where teams reflect on how the project went and identify what can be changed moving forward to create a more streamlined process.

Pre-mortem analysis

Post-mortem Retrospective

A post-mortem retrospective is where teams reflect on how the project went and identify what can be changed moving forward to create a more streamlined process.

Pros vs cons

Pros vs Cons

Pros vs Cons is a quick and easy decision-making tool.

Reverse brainstorming

Reverse Brainstorming

Reverse Brainstorming identifies problems by brainstorming all the ways a plan or idea can fail, helping you avoid those issues and identify a better solution.

Risk matrix

Risk Matrix

Risk Matrix is a simple tool to help identify and prioritize risks based on their likelihood and severity.

Risk assessment matrix

Risk Assessment Matrix

Risk Assessment Matrix is a simple tool to help identify and prioritize risks based on their likelihood and severity and ultimately lowers and minimizes the impact on your bottom line.

Rose bud thorn

Rose Bud Thorn

Rose, Bud, Thorn helps participants analyze by visually categorizing the positive, potential, or negative aspects of the matter at hand.



S.C.A.M.P.E.R is a creative thinking and problem-solving method used during brainstorming sessions that supports innovation of products and services, planning, and development.

Service blueprint

Service Blueprint

Start stop continue retrospective

Start Stop Continue Retrospective

Start, Stop, Continue is an action-oriented retrospective where teams reflect and gather feedback and develop practical ideas for improvement.

SWOT analysis

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis gives a clearer understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and provides insight on how best to move forward.



See, Think, Wonder encourages students to make careful observations and interpretations, enabling the class to build on the group’s thinking and often results in richer discussions.

What how why

What How Why

How, How, Why enables your team to reflect or plan a project by accessing why something needs to be done, how it will be done, and what you want to accomplish.

What was good? what was bad? ideas & actions template

What Was Good? What Was Bad? Ideas & Actions

What was good? What was bad? Ideas and actions. An excellent retrospective to figure out what your team thinks is working and what is holding them back.

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How to Solve Problems

  • Laura Amico

problem solving template examples

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

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

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

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Problem Solving Presentation Templates

Present the problem-solving processes effectively with our premade problem solving powerpoint templates and google slides themes. crafted to guide you from problem identification to resolution, these free templates breathe life into complex strategies. they feature creative, fully editable infographics, like puzzles and light bulb designs..

Problem solving

  • Analytical Thinking: Breaking down a problem into smaller parts to understand its nature.
  • Creative Thinking: Thinking outside the box to find unique and effective solutions.
  • Decision Making: Choosing the best course of action among different alternatives.
  • Team Collaboration: Working together to generate diverse perspectives and solutions.
  • Communicate the problem statement clearly to stakeholders.
  • Exhibit potential solutions and their implications.
  • Rally teams around a unified strategy.
  • Track progress and outcomes.

In such scenarios, the design and layout of your presentation matter as much as its content. And this is where Slide Egg steps in!

  • Diverse Designs: From representing problem identification, business solutions, problem-solving techniques, and strategies to process steps, our slides have it all.
  • Creative Infographics: Our slides are adorned with multicolor infographics like puzzle pieces, human brains, ladders, bulbs, stars, magnifiers, locks, and keys to captivate your audience.
  • User-Friendly: Our problem solution slides  offers 100% editable features, allowing you to tailor the content to fit your narrative seamlessly.
  • Cost-Efficient: For those on a budget, we provide free problem and solution slides so you can experience the quality of our offerings.

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How To Build A Problem Solving PowerPoint

How To Build A Problem Solving PowerPoint

We're here to help you, what is problem solving presentation templates.

Problem Solving Presentation Templates is a set of pre-designed PowerPoint slides that you can use to present and explain problem-solving strategies. The templates provide visuals and text that you can use to describe the problem-solving process, from identifying the problem to finding a solution.

Where can we use these Problem Solving Slides?

You can use these Problem Solving Slides for corporate meetings, educational classes, team-building events, or workshops. You can also use them to help facilitate brainstorming sessions and critical thinking activities.

How can I make Problem Solving PPT Slides in a presentation?

Start by creating a slide that outlines the problem. This should include the problem statement and a brief description of the context. Including brainstorming, researching, listing potential solutions, analyzing the data, and finally arriving at a solution. Suppose you want to create slides by yourself. Visit Tips and tricks for detailed instructions.

Who can use Problem Solving Presentation Templates?

Anyone can use Problem Solving PPT Templates to present a problem-solving strategy or process visually engagingly. These templates can be used by professionals, educators, students, business owners, and anyone looking to share a problem-solving approach with an audience.

Why do we need Problem Solving Presentation Slides?

Presenting a problem-solving Presentation slide helps illustrate complex concepts and issues. It can also engage an audience, provide visual context and simplify data. Problem-solving slides can convey ideas and solutions effectively and explore different solutions and alternatives.

Where can I find free Problem Solving Presentation Templates?

Many websites offer free Problem Solving Presentation Templates. Slide egg is one of the best PowerPoint providers. Our websites have uniquely designed templates that allow you to share the problem and help to track progress towards a solution.


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10 Best Problem-Solving Therapy Worksheets & Activities

Problem solving therapy

Cognitive science tells us that we regularly face not only well-defined problems but, importantly, many that are ill defined (Eysenck & Keane, 2015).

Sometimes, we find ourselves unable to overcome our daily problems or the inevitable (though hopefully infrequent) life traumas we face.

Problem-Solving Therapy aims to reduce the incidence and impact of mental health disorders and improve wellbeing by helping clients face life’s difficulties (Dobson, 2011).

This article introduces Problem-Solving Therapy and offers techniques, activities, and worksheets that mental health professionals can use with clients.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free . These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains:

What is problem-solving therapy, 14 steps for problem-solving therapy, 3 best interventions and techniques, 7 activities and worksheets for your session, fascinating books on the topic, resources from, a take-home message.

Problem-Solving Therapy assumes that mental disorders arise in response to ineffective or maladaptive coping. By adopting a more realistic and optimistic view of coping, individuals can understand the role of emotions and develop actions to reduce distress and maintain mental wellbeing (Nezu & Nezu, 2009).

“Problem-solving therapy (PST) is a psychosocial intervention, generally considered to be under a cognitive-behavioral umbrella” (Nezu, Nezu, & D’Zurilla, 2013, p. ix). It aims to encourage the client to cope better with day-to-day problems and traumatic events and reduce their impact on mental and physical wellbeing.

Clinical research, counseling, and health psychology have shown PST to be highly effective in clients of all ages, ranging from children to the elderly, across multiple clinical settings, including schizophrenia, stress, and anxiety disorders (Dobson, 2011).

Can it help with depression?

PST appears particularly helpful in treating clients with depression. A recent analysis of 30 studies found that PST was an effective treatment with a similar degree of success as other successful therapies targeting depression (Cuijpers, Wit, Kleiboer, Karyotaki, & Ebert, 2020).

Other studies confirm the value of PST and its effectiveness at treating depression in multiple age groups and its capacity to combine with other therapies, including drug treatments (Dobson, 2011).

The major concepts

Effective coping varies depending on the situation, and treatment typically focuses on improving the environment and reducing emotional distress (Dobson, 2011).

PST is based on two overlapping models:

Social problem-solving model

This model focuses on solving the problem “as it occurs in the natural social environment,” combined with a general coping strategy and a method of self-control (Dobson, 2011, p. 198).

The model includes three central concepts:

  • Social problem-solving
  • The problem
  • The solution

The model is a “self-directed cognitive-behavioral process by which an individual, couple, or group attempts to identify or discover effective solutions for specific problems encountered in everyday living” (Dobson, 2011, p. 199).

Relational problem-solving model

The theory of PST is underpinned by a relational problem-solving model, whereby stress is viewed in terms of the relationships between three factors:

  • Stressful life events
  • Emotional distress and wellbeing
  • Problem-solving coping

Therefore, when a significant adverse life event occurs, it may require “sweeping readjustments in a person’s life” (Dobson, 2011, p. 202).

problem solving template examples

  • Enhance positive problem orientation
  • Decrease negative orientation
  • Foster ability to apply rational problem-solving skills
  • Reduce the tendency to avoid problem-solving
  • Minimize the tendency to be careless and impulsive

D’Zurilla’s and Nezu’s model includes (modified from Dobson, 2011):

  • Initial structuring Establish a positive therapeutic relationship that encourages optimism and explains the PST approach.
  • Assessment Formally and informally assess areas of stress in the client’s life and their problem-solving strengths and weaknesses.
  • Obstacles to effective problem-solving Explore typically human challenges to problem-solving, such as multitasking and the negative impact of stress. Introduce tools that can help, such as making lists, visualization, and breaking complex problems down.
  • Problem orientation – fostering self-efficacy Introduce the importance of a positive problem orientation, adopting tools, such as visualization, to promote self-efficacy.
  • Problem orientation – recognizing problems Help clients recognize issues as they occur and use problem checklists to ‘normalize’ the experience.
  • Problem orientation – seeing problems as challenges Encourage clients to break free of harmful and restricted ways of thinking while learning how to argue from another point of view.
  • Problem orientation – use and control emotions Help clients understand the role of emotions in problem-solving, including using feelings to inform the process and managing disruptive emotions (such as cognitive reframing and relaxation exercises).
  • Problem orientation – stop and think Teach clients how to reduce impulsive and avoidance tendencies (visualizing a stop sign or traffic light).
  • Problem definition and formulation Encourage an understanding of the nature of problems and set realistic goals and objectives.
  • Generation of alternatives Work with clients to help them recognize the wide range of potential solutions to each problem (for example, brainstorming).
  • Decision-making Encourage better decision-making through an improved understanding of the consequences of decisions and the value and likelihood of different outcomes.
  • Solution implementation and verification Foster the client’s ability to carry out a solution plan, monitor its outcome, evaluate its effectiveness, and use self-reinforcement to increase the chance of success.
  • Guided practice Encourage the application of problem-solving skills across multiple domains and future stressful problems.
  • Rapid problem-solving Teach clients how to apply problem-solving questions and guidelines quickly in any given situation.

Success in PST depends on the effectiveness of its implementation; using the right approach is crucial (Dobson, 2011).

Problem-solving therapy – Baycrest

The following interventions and techniques are helpful when implementing more effective problem-solving approaches in client’s lives.

First, it is essential to consider if PST is the best approach for the client, based on the problems they present.

Is PPT appropriate?

It is vital to consider whether PST is appropriate for the client’s situation. Therapists new to the approach may require additional guidance (Nezu et al., 2013).

Therapists should consider the following questions before beginning PST with a client (modified from Nezu et al., 2013):

  • Has PST proven effective in the past for the problem? For example, research has shown success with depression, generalized anxiety, back pain, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and supporting caregivers (Nezu et al., 2013).
  • Is PST acceptable to the client?
  • Is the individual experiencing a significant mental or physical health problem?

All affirmative answers suggest that PST would be a helpful technique to apply in this instance.

Five problem-solving steps

The following five steps are valuable when working with clients to help them cope with and manage their environment (modified from Dobson, 2011).

Ask the client to consider the following points (forming the acronym ADAPT) when confronted by a problem:

  • Attitude Aim to adopt a positive, optimistic attitude to the problem and problem-solving process.
  • Define Obtain all required facts and details of potential obstacles to define the problem.
  • Alternatives Identify various alternative solutions and actions to overcome the obstacle and achieve the problem-solving goal.
  • Predict Predict each alternative’s positive and negative outcomes and choose the one most likely to achieve the goal and maximize the benefits.
  • Try out Once selected, try out the solution and monitor its effectiveness while engaging in self-reinforcement.

If the client is not satisfied with their solution, they can return to step ‘A’ and find a more appropriate solution.

Positive self-statements

When dealing with clients facing negative self-beliefs, it can be helpful for them to use positive self-statements.

Use the following (or add new) self-statements to replace harmful, negative thinking (modified from Dobson, 2011):

  • I can solve this problem; I’ve tackled similar ones before.
  • I can cope with this.
  • I just need to take a breath and relax.
  • Once I start, it will be easier.
  • It’s okay to look out for myself.
  • I can get help if needed.
  • Other people feel the same way I do.
  • I’ll take one piece of the problem at a time.
  • I can keep my fears in check.
  • I don’t need to please everyone.

Worksheets for problem solving therapy

5 Worksheets and workbooks

Problem-solving self-monitoring form.

Answering the questions in the Problem-Solving Self-Monitoring Form provides the therapist with necessary information regarding the client’s overall and specific problem-solving approaches and reactions (Dobson, 2011).

Ask the client to complete the following:

  • Describe the problem you are facing.
  • What is your goal?
  • What have you tried so far to solve the problem?
  • What was the outcome?

Reactions to Stress

It can be helpful for the client to recognize their own experiences of stress. Do they react angrily, withdraw, or give up (Dobson, 2011)?

The Reactions to Stress worksheet can be given to the client as homework to capture stressful events and their reactions. By recording how they felt, behaved, and thought, they can recognize repeating patterns.

What Are Your Unique Triggers?

Helping clients capture triggers for their stressful reactions can encourage emotional regulation.

When clients can identify triggers that may lead to a negative response, they can stop the experience or slow down their emotional reaction (Dobson, 2011).

The What Are Your Unique Triggers ? worksheet helps the client identify their triggers (e.g., conflict, relationships, physical environment, etc.).

Problem-Solving worksheet

Imagining an existing or potential problem and working through how to resolve it can be a powerful exercise for the client.

Use the Problem-Solving worksheet to state a problem and goal and consider the obstacles in the way. Then explore options for achieving the goal, along with their pros and cons, to assess the best action plan.

Getting the Facts

Clients can become better equipped to tackle problems and choose the right course of action by recognizing facts versus assumptions and gathering all the necessary information (Dobson, 2011).

Use the Getting the Facts worksheet to answer the following questions clearly and unambiguously:

  • Who is involved?
  • What did or did not happen, and how did it bother you?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did you respond?

2 Helpful Group Activities

While therapists can use the worksheets above in group situations, the following two interventions work particularly well with more than one person.

Generating Alternative Solutions and Better Decision-Making

A group setting can provide an ideal opportunity to share a problem and identify potential solutions arising from multiple perspectives.

Use the Generating Alternative Solutions and Better Decision-Making worksheet and ask the client to explain the situation or problem to the group and the obstacles in the way.

Once the approaches are captured and reviewed, the individual can share their decision-making process with the group if they want further feedback.


Visualization can be performed with individuals or in a group setting to help clients solve problems in multiple ways, including (Dobson, 2011):

  • Clarifying the problem by looking at it from multiple perspectives
  • Rehearsing a solution in the mind to improve and get more practice
  • Visualizing a ‘safe place’ for relaxation, slowing down, and stress management

Guided imagery is particularly valuable for encouraging the group to take a ‘mental vacation’ and let go of stress.

Ask the group to begin with slow, deep breathing that fills the entire diaphragm. Then ask them to visualize a favorite scene (real or imagined) that makes them feel relaxed, perhaps beside a gently flowing river, a summer meadow, or at the beach.

The more the senses are engaged, the more real the experience. Ask the group to think about what they can hear, see, touch, smell, and even taste.

Encourage them to experience the situation as fully as possible, immersing themselves and enjoying their place of safety.

Such feelings of relaxation may be able to help clients fall asleep, relieve stress, and become more ready to solve problems.

We have included three of our favorite books on the subject of Problem-Solving Therapy below.

1. Problem-Solving Therapy: A Treatment Manual – Arthur Nezu, Christine Maguth Nezu, and Thomas D’Zurilla

Problem-Solving Therapy

This is an incredibly valuable book for anyone wishing to understand the principles and practice behind PST.

Written by the co-developers of PST, the manual provides powerful toolkits to overcome cognitive overload, emotional dysregulation, and the barriers to practical problem-solving.

Find the book on Amazon .

2. Emotion-Centered Problem-Solving Therapy: Treatment Guidelines – Arthur Nezu and Christine Maguth Nezu

Emotion-Centered Problem-Solving Therapy

Another, more recent, book from the creators of PST, this text includes important advances in neuroscience underpinning the role of emotion in behavioral treatment.

Along with clinical examples, the book also includes crucial toolkits that form part of a stepped model for the application of PST.

3. Handbook of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies – Keith Dobson and David Dozois

Handbook of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies

This is the fourth edition of a hugely popular guide to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies and includes a valuable and insightful section on Problem-Solving Therapy.

This is an important book for students and more experienced therapists wishing to form a high-level and in-depth understanding of the tools and techniques available to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists.

For even more tools to help strengthen your clients’ problem-solving skills, check out the following free worksheets from our blog.

  • Case Formulation Worksheet This worksheet presents a four-step framework to help therapists and their clients come to a shared understanding of the client’s presenting problem.
  • Understanding Your Default Problem-Solving Approach This worksheet poses a series of questions helping clients reflect on their typical cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses to problems.
  • Social Problem Solving: Step by Step This worksheet presents a streamlined template to help clients define a problem, generate possible courses of action, and evaluate the effectiveness of an implemented solution.
  • 17 Positive Psychology Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, check out this signature collection of 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners . Use them to help others flourish and thrive.

While we are born problem-solvers, facing an incredibly diverse set of challenges daily, we sometimes need support.

Problem-Solving Therapy aims to reduce stress and associated mental health disorders and improve wellbeing by improving our ability to cope. PST is valuable in diverse clinical settings, ranging from depression to schizophrenia, with research suggesting it as a highly effective treatment for teaching coping strategies and reducing emotional distress.

Many PST techniques are available to help improve clients’ positive outlook on obstacles while reducing avoidance of problem situations and the tendency to be careless and impulsive.

The PST model typically assesses the client’s strengths, weaknesses, and coping strategies when facing problems before encouraging a healthy experience of and relationship with problem-solving.

Why not use this article to explore the theory behind PST and try out some of our powerful tools and interventions with your clients to help them with their decision-making, coping, and problem-solving?

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free .

  • Cuijpers, P., Wit, L., Kleiboer, A., Karyotaki, E., & Ebert, D. (2020). Problem-solving therapy for adult depression: An updated meta-analysis. European P sychiatry ,  48 (1), 27–37.
  • Dobson, K. S. (2011). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (3rd ed.). Guilford Press.
  • Dobson, K. S., & Dozois, D. J. A. (2021). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies  (4th ed.). Guilford Press.
  • Eysenck, M. W., & Keane, M. T. (2015). Cognitive psychology: A student’s handbook . Psychology Press.
  • Nezu, A. M., & Nezu, C. M. (2009). Problem-solving therapy DVD . Retrieved September 13, 2021, from
  • Nezu, A. M., & Nezu, C. M. (2018). Emotion-centered problem-solving therapy: Treatment guidelines. Springer.
  • Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., & D’Zurilla, T. J. (2013). Problem-solving therapy: A treatment manual . Springer.

problem solving template examples

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A3 Problem Solving Template allows to focus on the real issues while helping the team collaborate to gain deeper insight into problems. Template provides a simple and consistent approach to problem solving using the logical thinking process.

You can easily edit this template using Creately's block diagram maker . You can export it in multiple formats like JPEG, PNG and SVG and easily add it to Word documents, Powerpoint (PPT) presentations, Excel or any other documents. You can export it as a PDF for high-quality printouts.

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39 Best Problem-Solving Examples

problem-solving examples and definition, explained below

Problem-solving is a process where you’re tasked with identifying an issue and coming up with the most practical and effective solution.

This indispensable skill is necessary in several aspects of life, from personal relationships to education to business decisions.

Problem-solving aptitude boosts rational thinking, creativity, and the ability to cooperate with others. It’s also considered essential in 21st Century workplaces.

If explaining your problem-solving skills in an interview, remember that the employer is trying to determine your ability to handle difficulties. Focus on explaining exactly how you solve problems, including by introducing your thoughts on some of the following frameworks and how you’ve applied them in the past.

Problem-Solving Examples

1. divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking refers to the process of coming up with multiple different answers to a single problem. It’s the opposite of convergent thinking, which would involve coming up with a singular answer .

The benefit of a divergent thinking approach is that it can help us achieve blue skies thinking – it lets us generate several possible solutions that we can then critique and analyze .

In the realm of problem-solving, divergent thinking acts as the initial spark. You’re working to create an array of potential solutions, even those that seem outwardly unrelated or unconventional, to get your brain turning and unlock out-of-the-box ideas.

This process paves the way for the decision-making stage, where the most promising ideas are selected and refined.

Go Deeper: Divervent Thinking Examples

2. Convergent Thinking

Next comes convergent thinking, the process of narrowing down multiple possibilities to arrive at a single solution.

This involves using your analytical skills to identify the best, most practical, or most economical solution from the pool of ideas that you generated in the divergent thinking stage.

In a way, convergent thinking shapes the “roadmap” to solve a problem after divergent thinking has supplied the “destinations.”

Have a think about which of these problem-solving skills you’re more adept at: divergent or convergent thinking?

Go Deeper: Convergent Thinking Examples

3. Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a group activity designed to generate a multitude of ideas regarding a specific problem. It’s divergent thinking as a group , which helps unlock even more possibilities.

A typical brainstorming session involves uninhibited and spontaneous ideation, encouraging participants to voice any possible solutions, no matter how unconventional they might appear.

It’s important in a brainstorming session to suspend judgment and be as inclusive as possible, allowing all participants to get involved.

By widening the scope of potential solutions, brainstorming allows better problem definition, more creative solutions, and helps to avoid thinking “traps” that might limit your perspective.

Go Deeper: Brainstorming Examples

4. Thinking Outside the Box

The concept of “thinking outside the box” encourages a shift in perspective, urging you to approach problems from an entirely new angle.

Rather than sticking to traditional methods and processes, it involves breaking away from conventional norms to cultivate unique solutions.

In problem-solving, this mindset can bypass established hurdles and bring you to fresh ideas that might otherwise remain undiscovered.

Think of it as going off the beaten track when regular routes present roadblocks to effective resolution.

5. Case Study Analysis

Analyzing case studies involves a detailed examination of real-life situations that bear relevance to the current problem at hand.

For example, if you’re facing a problem, you could go to another environment that has faced a similar problem and examine how they solved it. You’d then bring the insights from that case study back to your own problem.

This approach provides a practical backdrop against which theories and assumptions can be tested, offering valuable insights into how similar problems have been approached and resolved in the past.

See a Broader Range of Analysis Examples Here

6. Action Research

Action research involves a repetitive process of identifying a problem, formulating a plan to address it, implementing the plan, and then analyzing the results. It’s common in educational research contexts.

The objective is to promote continuous learning and improvement through reflection and action. You conduct research into your problem, attempt to apply a solution, then assess how well the solution worked. This becomes an iterative process of continual improvement over time.

For problem-solving, this method offers a way to test solutions in real-time and allows for changes and refinements along the way, based on feedback or observed outcomes. It’s a form of active problem-solving that integrates lessons learned into the next cycle of action.

Go Deeper: Action Research Examples

7. Information Gathering

Fundamental to solving any problem is the process of information gathering.

This involves collecting relevant data , facts, and details about the issue at hand, significantly aiding in the understanding and conceptualization of the problem.

In problem-solving, information gathering underpins every decision you make.

This process ensures your actions are based on concrete information and evidence, allowing for an informed approach to tackle the problem effectively.

8. Seeking Advice

Seeking advice implies turning to knowledgeable and experienced individuals or entities to gain insights on problem-solving.

It could include mentors, industry experts, peers, or even specialized literature.

The value in this process lies in leveraging different perspectives and proven strategies when dealing with a problem. Moreover, it aids you in avoiding pitfalls, saving time, and learning from others’ experiences.

9. Creative Thinking

Creative thinking refers to the ability to perceive a problem in a new way, identify unconventional patterns, or produce original solutions.

It encourages innovation and uniqueness, often leading to the most effective results.

When applied to problem-solving, creative thinking can help you break free from traditional constraints, ideal for potentially complex or unusual problems.

Go Deeper: Creative Thinking Examples

10. Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is a strategy developed to resolve disagreements and arguments, often involving communication, negotiation, and compromise.

When employed as a problem-solving technique, it can diffuse tension, clear bottlenecks, and create a collaborative environment.

Effective conflict resolution ensures that differing views or disagreements do not become roadblocks in the process of problem-solving.

Go Deeper: Conflict Resolution Examples

11. Addressing Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks refer to obstacles or hindrances that slow down or even halt a process.

In problem-solving, addressing bottlenecks involves identifying these impediments and finding ways to eliminate them.

This effort not only smooths the path to resolution but also enhances the overall efficiency of the problem-solving process.

For example, if your workflow is not working well, you’d go to the bottleneck – that one point that is most time consuming – and focus on that. Once you ‘break’ this bottleneck, the entire process will run more smoothly.

12. Market Research

Market research involves gathering and analyzing information about target markets, consumers, and competitors.

In sales and marketing, this is one of the most effective problem-solving methods. The research collected from your market (e.g. from consumer surveys) generates data that can help identify market trends, customer preferences, and competitor strategies.

In this sense, it allows a company to make informed decisions, solve existing problems, and even predict and prevent future ones.

13. Root Cause Analysis

Root cause analysis is a method used to identify the origin or the fundamental reason for a problem.

Once the root cause is determined, you can implement corrective actions to prevent the problem from recurring.

As a problem-solving procedure, root cause analysis helps you to tackle the problem at its source, rather than dealing with its surface symptoms.

Go Deeper: Root Cause Analysis Examples

14. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual tool used to structure information, helping you better analyze, comprehend and generate new ideas.

By laying out your thoughts visually, it can lead you to solutions that might not have been apparent with linear thinking.

In problem-solving, mind mapping helps in organizing ideas and identifying connections between them, providing a holistic view of the situation and potential solutions.

15. Trial and Error

The trial and error method involves attempting various solutions until you find one that resolves the problem.

It’s an empirical technique that relies on practical actions instead of theories or rules.

In the context of problem-solving, trial and error allows you the flexibility to test different strategies in real situations, gaining insights about what works and what doesn’t.

16. SWOT Analysis

SWOT is an acronym standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

It’s an analytic framework used to evaluate these aspects in relation to a particular objective or problem.

In problem-solving, SWOT Analysis helps you to identify favorable and unfavorable internal and external factors. It helps to craft strategies that make best use of your strengths and opportunities, whilst addressing weaknesses and threats.

Go Deeper: SWOT Analysis Examples

17. Scenario Planning

Scenario planning is a strategic planning method used to make flexible long-term plans.

It involves imagining, and then planning for, multiple likely future scenarios.

By forecasting various directions a problem could take, scenario planning helps manage uncertainty and is an effective tool for problem-solving in volatile conditions.

18. Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats is a concept devised by Edward de Bono that proposes six different directions or modes of thinking, symbolized by six different hat colors.

Each hat signifies a different perspective, encouraging you to switch ‘thinking modes’ as you switch hats. This method can help remove bias and broaden perspectives when dealing with a problem.

19. Decision Matrix Analysis

Decision Matrix Analysis is a technique that allows you to weigh different factors when faced with several possible solutions.

After listing down the options and determining the factors of importance, each option is scored based on each factor.

Revealing a clear winner that both serves your objectives and reflects your values, Decision Matrix Analysis grounds your problem-solving process in objectivity and comprehensiveness.

20. Pareto Analysis

Also known as the 80/20 rule, Pareto Analysis is a decision-making technique.

It’s based on the principle that 80% of problems are typically caused by 20% of the causes, making it a handy tool for identifying the most significant issues in a situation.

Using this analysis, you’re likely to direct your problem-solving efforts more effectively, tackling the root causes producing most of the problem’s impact.

21. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze facts to form a judgment objectively.

It involves logical, disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence.

For problem-solving, critical thinking helps evaluate options and decide the most effective solution. It ensures your decisions are grounded in reason and facts, and not biased or irrational assumptions.

Go Deeper: Critical Thinking Examples

22. Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis testing usually involves formulating a claim, testing it against actual data, and deciding whether to accept or reject the claim based on the results.

In problem-solving, hypotheses often represent potential solutions. Hypothesis testing provides verification, giving a statistical basis for decision-making and problem resolution.

Usually, this will require research methods and a scientific approach to see whether the hypothesis stands up or not.

Go Deeper: Types of Hypothesis Testing

23. Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a systematic process of weighing the pros and cons of different solutions in terms of their potential costs and benefits.

It allows you to measure the positive effects against the negatives and informs your problem-solving strategy.

By using CBA, you can identify which solution offers the greatest benefit for the least cost, significantly improving efficacy and efficiency in your problem-solving process.

Go Deeper: Cost-Benefit Analysis Examples

24. Simulation and Modeling

Simulations and models allow you to create a simplified replica of real-world systems to test outcomes under controlled conditions.

In problem-solving, you can broadly understand potential repercussions of different solutions before implementation.

It offers a cost-effective way to predict the impacts of your decisions, minimizing potential risks associated with various solutions.

25. Delphi Method

The Delphi Method is a structured communication technique used to gather expert opinions.

The method involves a group of experts who respond to questionnaires about a problem. The responses are aggregated and shared with the group, and the process repeats until a consensus is reached.

This method of problem solving can provide a diverse range of insights and solutions, shaped by the wisdom of a collective expert group.

26. Cross-functional Team Collaboration

Cross-functional team collaboration involves individuals from different departments or areas of expertise coming together to solve a common problem or achieve a shared goal.

When you bring diverse skills, knowledge, and perspectives to a problem, it can lead to a more comprehensive and innovative solution.

In problem-solving, this promotes communal thinking and ensures that solutions are inclusive and holistic, with various aspects of the problem being addressed.

27. Benchmarking

Benchmarking involves comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to the best practices from other companies or industries.

In problem-solving, it allows you to identify gaps in your own processes, determine how others have solved similar problems, and apply those solutions that have proven to be successful.

It also allows you to compare yourself to the best (the benchmark) and assess where you’re not as good.

28. Pros-Cons Lists

A pro-con analysis aids in problem-solving by weighing the advantages (pros) and disadvantages (cons) of various possible solutions.

This simple but powerful tool helps in making a balanced, informed decision.

When confronted with a problem, a pro-con analysis can guide you through the decision-making process, ensuring all possible outcomes and implications are scrutinized before arriving at the optimal solution. Thus, it helps to make the problem-solving process both methodical and comprehensive.

29. 5 Whys Analysis

The 5 Whys Analysis involves repeatedly asking the question ‘why’ (around five times) to peel away the layers of an issue and discover the root cause of a problem.

As a problem-solving technique, it enables you to delve into details that you might otherwise overlook and offers a simple, yet powerful, approach to uncover the origin of a problem.

For example, if your task is to find out why a product isn’t selling your first answer might be: “because customers don’t want it”, then you ask why again – “they don’t want it because it doesn’t solve their problem”, then why again – “because the product is missing a certain feature” … and so on, until you get to the root “why”.

30. Gap Analysis

Gap analysis entails comparing current performance with potential or desired performance.

You’re identifying the ‘gaps’, or the differences, between where you are and where you want to be.

In terms of problem-solving, a Gap Analysis can help identify key areas for improvement and design a roadmap of how to get from the current state to the desired one.

31. Design Thinking

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that involves empathy, experimentation, and iteration.

The process focuses on understanding user needs, challenging assumptions , and redefining problems from a user-centric perspective.

In problem-solving, design thinking uncovers innovative solutions that may not have been initially apparent and ensures the solution is tailored to the needs of those affected by the issue.

32. Analogical Thinking

Analogical thinking involves the transfer of information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target).

In problem-solving, you’re drawing parallels between similar situations and applying the problem-solving techniques used in one situation to the other.

Thus, it allows you to apply proven strategies to new, but related problems.

33. Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking requires looking at a situation or problem from a unique, sometimes abstract, often non-sequential viewpoint.

Unlike traditional logical thinking methods, lateral thinking encourages you to employ creative and out-of-the-box techniques.

In solving problems, this type of thinking boosts ingenuity and drives innovation, often leading to novel and effective solutions.

Go Deeper: Lateral Thinking Examples

34. Flowcharting

Flowcharting is the process of visually mapping a process or procedure.

This form of diagram can show every step of a system, process, or workflow, enabling an easy tracking of the progress.

As a problem-solving tool, flowcharts help identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies in a process, guiding improved strategies and providing clarity on task ownership and process outcomes.

35. Multivoting

Multivoting, or N/3 voting, is a method where participants reduce a large list of ideas to a prioritized shortlist by casting multiple votes.

This voting system elevates the most preferred options for further consideration and decision-making.

As a problem-solving technique, multivoting allows a group to narrow options and focus on the most promising solutions, ensuring more effective and democratic decision-making.

36. Force Field Analysis

Force Field Analysis is a decision-making technique that identifies the forces for and against change when contemplating a decision.

The ‘forces’ represent the differing factors that can drive or hinder change.

In problem-solving, Force Field Analysis allows you to understand the entirety of the context, favoring a balanced view over a one-sided perspective. A comprehensive view of all the forces at play can lead to better-informed problem-solving decisions.

TRIZ, which stands for “The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,” is a problem-solving, analysis, and forecasting methodology.

It focuses on finding contradictions inherent in a scenario. Then, you work toward eliminating the contraditions through finding innovative solutions.

So, when you’re tackling a problem, TRIZ provides a disciplined, systematic approach that aims for ideal solutions and not just acceptable ones. Using TRIZ, you can leverage patterns of problem-solving that have proven effective in different cases, pivoting them to solve the problem at hand.

38. A3 Problem Solving

A3 Problem Solving, derived from Lean Management, is a structured method that uses a single sheet of A3-sized paper to document knowledge from a problem-solving process.

Named after the international paper size standard of A3 (or 11-inch by 17-inch paper), it succinctly records all key details of the problem-solving process from problem description to the root cause and corrective actions.

Used in problem-solving, this provides a straightforward and logical structure for addressing the problem, facilitating communication between team members, ensuring all critical details are included, and providing a record of decisions made.

39. Scenario Analysis

Scenario Analysis is all about predicting different possible future events depending upon your decision.

To do this, you look at each course of action and try to identify the most likely outcomes or scenarios down the track if you take that course of action.

This technique helps forecast the impacts of various strategies, playing each out to their (logical or potential) end. It’s a good strategy for project managers who need to keep a firm eye on the horizon at all times.

When solving problems, Scenario Analysis assists in preparing for uncertainties, making sure your solution remains viable, regardless of changes in circumstances.

How to Answer “Demonstrate Problem-Solving Skills” in an Interview

When asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills in an interview, the STAR method often proves useful. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Situation: Begin by describing a specific circumstance or challenge you encountered. Make sure to provide enough detail to allow the interviewer a clear understanding. You should select an event that adequately showcases your problem-solving abilities.

For instance, “In my previous role as a project manager, we faced a significant issue when our key supplier abruptly went out of business.”

Task: Explain what your responsibilities were in that situation. This serves to provide context, allowing the interviewer to understand your role and the expectations placed upon you.

For instance, “It was my task to ensure the project remained on track despite this setback. Alternative suppliers needed to be found without sacrificing quality or significantly increasing costs.”

Action: Describe the steps you took to manage the problem. Highlight your problem-solving process. Mention any creative approaches or techniques that you used.

For instance, “I conducted thorough research to identify potential new suppliers. After creating a shortlist, I initiated contact, negotiated terms, assessed samples for quality and made a selection. I also worked closely with the team to re-adjust the project timeline.”

Result: Share the outcomes of your actions. How did the situation end? Did your actions lead to success? It’s particularly effective if you can quantify these results.

For instance, “As a result of my active problem solving, we were able to secure a new supplier whose costs were actually 10% cheaper and whose quality was comparable. We adjusted the project plan and managed to complete the project just two weeks later than originally planned, despite the major vendor setback.”

Remember, when you’re explaining your problem-solving skills to an interviewer, what they’re really interested in is your approach to handling difficulties, your creativity and persistence in seeking a resolution, and your ability to carry your solution through to fruition. Tailoring your story to highlight these aspects will help exemplify your problem-solving prowess.

Go Deeper: STAR Interview Method Examples

Benefits of Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is beneficial for the following reasons (among others):

  • It can help you to overcome challenges, roadblocks, and bottlenecks in your life.
  • It can save a company money.
  • It can help you to achieve clarity in your thinking.
  • It can make procedures more efficient and save time.
  • It can strengthen your decision-making capacities.
  • It can lead to better risk management.

Whether for a job interview or school, problem-solving helps you to become a better thinking, solve your problems more effectively, and achieve your goals. Build up your problem-solving frameworks (I presented over 40 in this piece for you!) and work on applying them in real-life situations.


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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