Seven steps for effective problem solving in the workplace

Seven steps for practical problem-solving in the workplace 

This article entitled, the seven steps for practical problem-solving in the workplace provides you with a structured process to enable good outcomes and solutions to problems. People jump to a conclusion very quickly.  Think they have solved a problem but it’s not the right one. So a structure to problem-solving ensures you can stay on track to solve any problem you face. Practical problem solving takes time and care to get it consistently right. Put in limited time and attention, then there is more chance of not solving the problem at all.

When a problem arrives, it is essential that you and your team slow down and keep calm. Also, working through this problem-solving process isn’t a strictly linear process, and you may have to go back to a previous step before you get it right. So onto the 7 steps for practical problem-solving in the workplace.

1. Find the Right Problem

It is common to spend time, and money on a problem that doesn’t need that much attention. Why? Because you’re solving the wrong one. So you need to take time to determine that you are answering the right problem. Have a good understanding of what the problem actually is. Members of your team may have a different opinion on what the issues you are facing.

2. Understand self-interests

Attempt to understand where everyone’s attention is usually omitted from problem solving and can cause you no end of grief. The needs that you need to satisfy with the solution. Be careful to do this stage before looking at the solution.  As it’s common for people to become attached to one solution and ignore what’s needed.  So listen to those involved in the problem and with an open mind list each the vested interests that may come from any potential solutions.

3. Options

Brainstorm and list all the options open to you. Nothing too daft or silly. Try and do this listing on a separate occasion to step 2.

4. Evaluate

Now, look at each option and impartially and honestly isolate the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Again don’t do the listing and evaluation at the same time. Use analysis tools to assist you.

5. Selection

Decide what the best options are.Can you collate any of the rejected options to create a better option? If you are having trouble with these options, then move back to back to part 2 and look at people’s motives and yes, (well meaning or not) agendas. 

6. Write it down 

Write down the options, so you don’t forget them and also, to help you think through each step and the subsequent implications.

7. Monitoring and contingencies 

We live in the real world, and the problem and the subsequent options may change. Be better prepared to try and work out what could change or go wrong in advance. Then take the steps to ensure you have actions ready to take place within the agreed options and activities should the world change. Monitor the options success and failures and evaluate how things have worked out in a few months.


The seven steps for practical problem-solving in the workplace provides you with a structured process to enable outcomes and solutions to problems. Including finding the right problem, understand self-interests, list the options and select the solution and write it down to be able to monitor and evaluate. The more difficult and urgent the problem, the more critical it is to use a disciplined process like this.

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