6 Important Problem Solving Steps

There are 6 important steps to effective Problem Solving. These steps fall within the 3 universal phases of effective problem-solving.

Effective Problem Response

Effective Problem Solvers do three things well:

✦ Recognizing and defining the unacceptable situation/The Problem

✦ Finding the cause(s) of the unacceptable situation/The Problem

✦ Eliminating the unacceptable situation/The Problem

Problem Solving Phases

Effective Problem Solvers follow a logical, disciplined  of a three phase order:

Phase I:     Identify the Problem

Phase II:   Expose the Root Causes

Phase III:  Create the Solution(s)

Problem Solving must be “user friendly.” Using a method should not be problematic in itself. Therefore, I have identified six simple steps to effective problem solving. These steps guide an individual and team effectively through the three phases.

Phase I: Identify the Problem – (Steps 1-3)

Identify the Problem involves 3 key action steps:

The Alarm

The first action step is the “reaction”, the initial indicator that a problem exists. An Alarm is a signal or “red flag” that warns of potential difficulties. The Alarm is an “indicator of a possible problem.” Since problem solving is reactive, it is important to safeguard against “under” reaction and “over” reaction. The alarm is a signal to pay attention. The alarm is information. The sole purpose of the alarm step is to recognize an indicator of a potential problem and to accurately describe the indicator in terms of what has been observed.

The Expectation

The second step of identifying the problem is to find a way to measure the alarm in order to determine if it is or is not a problem. An “Expectation” is the assumed/explicit measurement that triggered the alarm. It is used to measure and define the problem. The existence of a problem implies that there is an “expected result” that is being hindered. The expectation is a description of the acceptable situation, at minimum, or the ideal state, at best.  It is impossible to define a problem accurately without an Expectation which is the standard for measurement.

The Surface Problem

The third action step of identifying the problem is to accurately define the problem by measuring what has occurred (The Alarm) against what was expected to occur (The Expectation).  The “Surface Problem” is an obstacle that blocks the expectation. It is the difference between the Alarm and the Expectation.  Surface implies that the problem is immediate and observable. However, what is visible is not the entire problem. A surface problem is caused by single or multiple, less visible sources which are Root Causes.

The Identify The Problem phase is complete when the Alarm has been described and measured against the Expectation, resulting in an accurate definition of the Surface Problem.

Phase II: Expose the Root Causes – (Step 4)

Once the problem is identified it is time to expose the causes, the root system that feeds and fuels the surface problem. “Root Causes” are the factors that fuel the Surface Problem. They are the source of the problem, condition and the tributary events that bring about the problem. While exposing the root causes is simply stated, the work of exposing causes is challenging. The nature of root causes is that they are hidden and not immediately obvious. Therefore, problem-solvers must “dig” and “search” for all source causes. Creative Root Cause Analysis facilitates the discovery and understanding of root causes.

The Expose the Root Causes phase is complete when the Root Causes to the Surface Problem have been identified and exposed to analysis.

Phase III:Create the Solution(s) – (Steps 5 & 6)

There are two steps in this phase. Each separate activity is treated as an action step. The fifth step “Solutions” is to create a course of action to address the root causes and solve the problem. This is the point where creativity is required. Creative Root Cause Analysis describes a way to generate creativity and guide the problem solvers to a viable solutions.

The sixth step “Tactical Plan, details the implementation of solution(s). To complete the task, problem solvers must develop and implement a tactical plan.

The Create the Solutions phase is complete when the viable and effective solution(s) to the problem has been selected and effectively implemented.

Creative Root Cause Analysis, a highly effective and easy to use problem solving tool.

Read more in Problem Terminators, a Amazon book https://www.amazon.com/Problem-Terminators-Dr-Jack-Oxenrider-ebook/dp/B00K3V2WLG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520600079&sr=8-1&keywords=problem+terminators

#BAPROBLEMTERMINATOR learn from Master Facilitator’s Guide Volume II, Creative Root Cause Analysis https://jackoxenrider.com/products/creative-root-cause-analysis/