Using established tools and techniques will help you improve your approach to solving the problems that your team and your organization face.
You'll be more successful at solving problems and, because of this, more successful at what you do.
The articles in this section of Mind Tools therefore focus on helping you make a success of the first of these steps – defining the problem.
A very significant part of this involves making sense of the complex situation in which the problem occurs, so that you can pinpoint exactly what the problem is.
For example, consider this problem statement: "We have to find a way of disciplining of people who do substandard work." This doesn't allow you the opportunity of discovering the real reasons for under-performance.
The CATWOE checklist provides a powerful reminder to look at many elements that may contribute to the problem, and to expand your thinking around it.
There are four basic steps in solving a problem: Steps 2 to 4 of this process are covered in depth in other areas of Mind Tools.
For these, see our sections on Creativity for step 2 (generating alternatives); Decision Making for step 3 (evaluating and selecting alternatives); and Project Management for step 4 (implementing solutions).
Simplex involves an eight-stage process: problem finding, fact finding, defining the problem, idea finding, selecting and evaluating, planning, selling the idea, and acting.
These steps build upon the basic process described earlier, and they create a cycle of problem finding and solving that will continually improve your organization.