Problem-Solving Techniques


Find the fundamental cause, and you're half way there.

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The 25+ tools in this section help you solve complicated business problems.

By using these techniques, you can start to deal with problems that might otherwise seem huge, overwhelming, or excessively complex.

Start by taking our How Good Are Your Problem-Solving Skills? quiz – this will help you quickly master the fundamentals of problem solving.

Then browse the list of tools below: the techniques that you'll find will help you in many different situations.

Enjoy using these tools!

General Problem-Solving Tools

Constructive Controversy  
Improving Solutions by Arguing For and Against Your Options

Inductive Reasoning  
Drawing Good Generalized Conclusions Based on Experience and Observation

Avoiding Logical Fallacies  
What They Are, and How to Avoid Them

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)  
Spotting Problems Before a Solution is Implemented

Heuristic Methods  
Using Rules of Thumb

Means-End Analysis  
Identifying the Steps Needed to Solve a Problem

Problem-Solving Approaches

The Problem-Definition Process  
Developing the Right Solution

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)  
Implementing New Ideas in a Controlled Way

Soft Systems Methodology (SSM)  
Understanding Very Complex Issues

8D Problem-Solving Process  
Finding Permanent Solutions

Appreciative Inquiry  
Solving Problems by Looking at What's Going Right

The Simplex Process  
A Robust Creative Problem Solving Process

The Straw Man Concept  
Build It Up, Knock It Down, and Create a Solid Final Solution

Hurson's Productive Thinking Model  
Solving Problems Creatively

The Four-Step Innovation Process  
Generating Innovative Solutions to Complex Problems

Action Learning Sets  
Solving Problems by Doing and Discussing

Finding the Cause of a Problem

Root Cause Analysis  
Tracing a Problem to Its Origins

CATWOE  
Developing a Robust Problem Definition

5 Whys  
Quickly Getting to the Root of a Problem

The Drill Down Technique  
Breaking Problems Down Into Manageable Parts

Cause and Effect Analysis  
Identifying the Likely Causes of Problems

Appreciation  
Extracting the Greatest Amount of Information

The Four Frame Approach  
Finding Other Ways Forward

Interrelationship Diagrams  
Identifying Cause and Effect Relationships

Improving Business Processes

Writing a Procedure  
Making Sure Things Are Done Without Mistakes or Omissions

Flow Charts  
Understanding and Communicating How a Process Works

Using Aide-Mémoire  
Creating Memory Aids and Checklists

Swim Lane / Rummler-Brache Diagrams  
Mapping and Improving Processes in Your Organization

Storyboarding  
Planning and Checking a Process as a Team

Unblocking Bottlenecks  
Fixing Unbalanced Processes

Queuing Models  
Optimizing Service and Resources

Data and Information Management  
Protecting an Important Organizational Asset

Improving Business Processes  
Streamlining Tasks to Improve Efficiency

Diagram-Based Tools

Concept Fans  
Widening the Search for Solutions

Affinity Diagrams  
Organizing Information and Ideas Into Common Themes

Systems Diagrams / Causal Loop Diagrams  
Understanding How Factors Effect One Another


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