5 Proven Steps for Effectively Solving Problems

Structured problem-solving is a systematic process for identifying and resolving problems. It involves defining the problem, generating potential solutions, evaluating those solutions, choosing the best one, and implementing and testing it. However, there are several reasons why people may not use this approach, including a lack of time, a lack of understanding, personal biases, group dynamics, and resistance to change.

The 5 Steps:

  1. Define the problem clearly and accurately
  2. Generate potential solutions
  3. Evaluate the potential solutions
  4. Choose the best solution
  5. Implement and test the solution

Clarification of Each Strategy

  1. Defining the problem clearly and accurately is the first step in effective problem-solving. This involves understanding the root cause of the problem and identifying any underlying issues that may be contributing to it.
  2. Generating potential solutions involves coming up with as many ideas as possible for addressing the problem. This can be done through brainstorming sessions with a team or individually.
  3. Evaluating the potential solutions involves analyzing each solution and considering its pros and cons. This helps to determine which solution is the most viable.
  4. Choosing the best solution involves selecting the solution that is most likely to effectively address the problem and meet the desired outcomes.
  5. Implementing and testing the solution involves putting the chosen solution into action and evaluating its effectiveness. This may involve making adjustments or trying a different solution if the initial one does not produce the desired results.

Resistance to Structured Problem-Solving

There are several reasons why people may not use structured problem-solving:

  1. Lack of time: Sometimes, people may feel that they do not have the time to follow a structured problem-solving process. They may feel pressure to come up with a solution quickly and may skip steps in order to do so.
  2. Lack of understanding: Some people may not understand the value of structured problem-solving or may not know how to use the process effectively.
  3. Personal biases: People may have their own biases or preconceived notions that prevent them from considering all possible solutions or evaluating them objectively.
  4. Group dynamics: In a group setting, there may be social pressures or dynamics at play that prevent people from fully participating in the problem-solving process.
  5. Resistance to change: Some people may be resistant to trying new approaches or may be comfortable with their existing ways of problem-solving, even if they are not the most effective.

The Fishbone Diagram

To assist in overcoming the resistance to using structured problem-solving, an Ishikawa diagram, also known as a “cause and effect diagram” or a “fishbone diagram,” is a tool used to identify and analyze the root causes of a problem. It is named after its creator, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, who developed the method in the 1950s as a way to improve quality control in manufacturing. Today, it is widely used in a variety of industries, including healthcare, finance, and engineering, to help teams understand and solve problems more effectively.

To create an Ishikawa diagram, start by identifying the problem you are trying to solve and writing it at the head of the diagram. Then, draw a horizontal line branching off from the head of the diagram and label it with one of the six main categories of causes: people, methods, machines, materials, measurement, and environment. These categories represent the most common sources of problems and are meant to be used as a starting point for brainstorming.

Next, draw additional lines branching off from each of the main categories, and label them with specific causes that could be contributing to the problem. It is important to be as specific and detailed as possible, as this will help you identify the root cause of the problem more easily.

Once you have identified all of the potential causes, you can begin analyzing the data and looking for patterns or trends. This may involve collecting additional data, such as measurements or observations, or conducting experiments to test your hypotheses.

One of the key benefits of using an Ishikawa diagram is that it helps teams visualize the relationships between different causes and their potential impact on the problem. This can make it easier to identify the root cause of the problem, rather than just addressing the symptoms.

An Ishikawa diagram is a powerful tool for root cause analysis that can help teams understand and solve problems more effectively. By identifying the main categories of causes and brainstorming specific contributing factors, teams can use this method to identify the root cause of a problem and implement effective solutions.


In conclusion, structured problem-solving is a valuable tool for effectively identifying and addressing problems. It allows for a logical and systematic approach that can help to ensure that the best solution is chosen and implemented. However, there are several factors that can prevent people from using this process, and it is important to be aware of these obstacles in order to overcome them and make the most of this problem-solving method.

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