Lesson 13 – The Problem Solving Process

The Problem Solving Process

The Six Steps

There are six steps to solving problems efficiently.

1. Define the Problem

  • Discuss symptoms (especially if problem is unknown).
  • Discuss size (or seriousness) and impact (effect) of problem.
  • Determine the exact wording of the problem in question form.
  • Define terms in the question.

2. Research and Analyse the Problem

  • List topics that need to be researched or discussed, including causes and past efforts to solve the problem.
  • Research the problem if necessary.
  • Discuss the research in an organised way.
  • State the first topic to be discussed.
  • Give all the members a chance to refer to their research and state their opinion on the topic.
  • Ask if anyone has anything further to say on the topic.
  • Summarise the group’s findings on the topic.
  • State the next subject to be discussed and repeat the procedure until all the topics have been examined.

3. Establish a Checklist of Criteria

  • List all possible criteria and give everyone a chance to respond.
  • Discuss each condition.
  • Reduce the list to a workable length by combining criteria where possible.
  • Categorise/list remaining criteria from most to least important.

4. List Possible Alternatives

  • Think outside the box.
  • These are just possibilities, so list anything that comes to mind.

5. Evaluate Each Alternative

  • Read through the list of alternatives, eliminating those that the group feels obviously do not meet the criteria agreed on in the third step.
  • Reduce the list further by combining any similar alternatives.
  • Discuss each remaining alternative’s strengths and weaknesses (referring to research presented in the second step when necessary).
  • Determine how well each alternative meets the criteria- number of criteria met and importance of criteria met.
  • Continue reducing the list until the best alternative (or alternatives) is reached.

6. Select the Best Alternative(s) as Your Solution and Discuss How to Implement It /Them

  • Make sure you consider all people involved.
  • You may want to develop contingency plans.

There are also some simple ways of resolving a conflict.

  • Competitive: I actively seek to get my own way.
  • Avoidant: I seek to avoid the conflict situation.
  • Accommodative: I seek to work out a mutually satisfying relationship with others.
  • Collaborative: I seek to work out a mutually satisfying solution with others.
  • Compromising: I seek to work out a solution in which we each give up a little to get some components of what we want.

Seven Steps to Customer Problem Solving

The Process

Let’s look at the specific steps we would take to resolve a customer’s problem.

  • Express respect
  • Listen to understand
  • Uncover the expectations
  • Repeat the specifics
  • Look for possible solutions
  • Take action and follow through
  • Double check for satisfaction

7 Step Problem Solving