No matter the scale of the problem, a simple problem solving method can help you find a solution. The Seven Step Method shown below. Although simple, is both methodical and effective.
Define the Problem – Sometimes the presenting symptom is not the real problem. Be vigilant to find the core problem.
Define Objectives and Performance Measures – You need an idea of the outcome you want. Knowing what a good job looks like helps you identify the performance measures you will need to decide when you have solved the problem.
Identify the Boundaries and Constraints – Bounding a problem ensures that you are not trying to solve too much. Constraints are those things that restrict your solutions.
Identify, Generate and Prioritise Options – Options are building blocks of solutions. Creating lots of options gives you more choice and more chance of creating a better solution.
Develop Options into a Plan – Develop the promising options further and discard options that offer little if any benefit.
Implement the Solution – Decide how to implement the solution to be most effective. Remember that some solutions can be quite simple but others can be comprehensive and require significant effort to deploy.
Evaluate the Outcome and Ensure the Problem is Solved – Evaluation a continuous process. As your solution takes effect, ensure the change is moving towards your desired outcome. Ask ‘What is working and what isn’t working?’
If the problem is well defined and a working solution well implemented, you should we well on the way to having solved the problem.
Remember that you don’t need a perfect solution first time. Indeed you will probably not create one. A more likely approach is to make consistently better decisions moving you towards a robust solution.
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