BY DANIEL COLE
Problems are inevitable; in life and business. All organizations exist because there is a problem to solve. People are employed because they have problem-solving skills. Running away from problems is not the right mental approach; all successful people are problem solvers. However, Albert Einstein has rightly said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” There are many techniques and proven principles or approaches to problem-solving. A few of them include:
The 5 why technique: To get clarity about the nature of the problem you want to solve and proffer an efficient solution, apply the five whys technique. Making an informed decision is based on an insightful understanding of the problem and careful exploration of the root cause. The 5 Why technique is one of the most effective tools for root cause analysis in Lean management. This technique is simply applied by asking “Why” five times to get to the root of the problem. An example would be assuming the problem you are trying to solve is obesity, ask the first “why”, “Why are you obese?” Assuming the answer is because you eat unhealthy food and you don’t take time to exercise. The second why will be, why do you eat unhealthy, and why don’t you take time to exercise? Whatever your answer is, ask the third why, by the time you get to the fifth why you must have had a clearer understanding of the root cause of the problem.
The Eisenhower matrix: This technique helps prioritize tasks by dividing them into 4 categories: urgent and important, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, and not urgent or important. It helps to identify which tasks are important, and which are not, and it helps to focus on the important ones. This matrix is very effective when having challenges with choosing priorities, and it’s also a good time management technique.
SWOT analysis: This technique involves analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are associated with a problem. The SWOT analysis helps identify the internal and external factors that are important to achieving a goal or addressing a problem. By understanding these factors, it becomes easier to develop an effective solution. Once the SWOT analysis is completed, the information can be used to develop a strategy to address the problem or achieve the goal.
The design thinking method: This technique is a human-centered approach to problem-solving that emphasizes empathy, creativity and experimentation. It involves understanding the needs of the end-users, prototyping solutions and testing them with real users to see what works and what doesn’t in order to arrive at the best solution.
The six-sigma method: This method is a data-driven approach to problem-solving that is used in manufacturing and other industries to improve the overall quality and efficiency of a process. The six-sigma method is based on five key phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC). It uses statistical analysis to identify and remove the causes of defects and variability in a process. It is designed to help organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their processes, and to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction. This method requires dedicated resources, leadership commitment and a culture of continuous improvement to be successful.
The above techniques are just a few of the many problem-solving techniques that are available. The best approach will depend on the specific problem you’re trying to solve and the resources you have available. It’s also important to remember that problem-solving is an iterative process, and a combination of techniques may be necessary in order to achieve the best results. However, it is important to always document your winning strategy to avoid redundancy and duplicity of effort should in case similar problems occur in the future.