Problem Solving

What is Problem Solving?

The process of finding a solution to a problem.

The ability to understand what the end goal of the problem is, and what rules could be applied represents the key to solving the problem. Sometimes the problem requires abstract thinking or coming up with a creative solution.

Snippet from Wikipedia: Problem solving

Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc methods in an orderly manner to find solutions to difficulties.

Some of the problem-solving techniques developed and used in philosophy, medicine, societies, mathematics, engineering, computer science, and artificial intelligence in general are related to mental problem-solving techniques studied in psychology and cognitive sciences.

IDEAL - Problem Solving Process


  • I - Identify | Identify the problem
  • D - Define | Define the cause
  • E - Explore | Explore possible strategies
  • A - Action | Act
  • L - Look Back | Look and learn

There are four basic steps in solving a problem:

  1. Conceptualization | Defining the problem | Identify the issue | Analyze contributing factors | Understanding the problem
  2. Ideation | Generating alternatives | Generate Interventions | Researching the available options | Identify different aspects
  3. Evaluation | Evaluating and selecting alternatives | Evaluate Solutions | Select an option or options
  4. Implementation | Implementing solutions | Implement a Plan | Taking actions

1. Conceptualization

  • Differentiate fact from opinion
  • Specify underlying causes
  • Consult each faction involved for information
  • State the problem specifically
  • Identify what standard or expectation is violated
  • Determine in which process the problem lies
  • Avoid trying to solve the problem without data
  • Data gathering
  • Data analysis
  • Be clear about what the problem is
  • Different people might have different views of what the issues are
  • Fact-finding
  • Historical analysis

2. Ideation

  • Brainstorming
  • Creative thinking
  • Postpone evaluating alternatives initially
  • Include all involved individuals in the generating of alternatives
  • Specify alternatives consistent with organizational goals
  • Specify short- and long-term alternatives
  • Brainstorm on others' ideas
  • Seek alternatives that may solve the problem
  • Prediction
  • Forecasting
  • Project design
  • Project planning

3. Evaluation

  • Analysis
  • Discussion
  • Evaluate alternatives relative to a target standard
  • What are the pluses and minuses?
  • Evaluate all alternatives without bias
  • Evaluate alternatives relative to established goals
  • What's the best option, in the balance?
  • Evaluate both proven and possible outcomes
  • State the selected alternative explicitly
  • Corroboration
  • Teamwork
  • Test development
  • Mediation
  • Prioritizing

4. Implementation

  • Project management
  • Project implementation
  • Collaboration
  • Time management
  • Plan and implement a pilot test of the chosen alternative
  • Gather feedback from all affected parties
  • Seek acceptance or consensus by all those affected
  • Establish ongoing measures and monitoring
  • Evaluate long-term results based on final solution
  • Benchmark development

Problem Solving Skills

Problem solving skills help you solve issues quickly and effectively.