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Using established tools and techniques will help you improve your approach to solving the problems that your team and your organization face.
Having good, strong problem solving skills can make a huge difference to your career.
Problems are at the center of what many people do at work every day.
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).
At this stage, it's also important to ensure that you look at the issue from a variety of perspectives.
If you commit yourself too early, you can end up with a problem statement that's really a solution instead.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.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.Quite often, what may seem to be a single problem turns out to be a whole series of problems.Going back to our example, substandard work could be caused by insufficient skills, but excessive workloads could also be contributing, as could excessively short lead times and poor motivation.The Drill Down technique will help you split your problem into smaller parts, each of which can then be solved appropriately.The four-step approach to solving problems that we mentioned at the beginning of this article will serve you well in many situations.However, for a more comprehensive process, you can use Simplex, Appreciative Inquiry or Soft Systems Methodology (SSM).These provide detailed steps that you can use to solve a problem effectively.