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Identifying a problem can be a difficult task in itself. What is the nature of the problem, are there in fact numerous problems? By spending some time defining the problem you will not only understand it more clearly yourself but be able to communicate its nature to others, which leads to the second phase.This stage involves: a period of observation, careful inspection, fact-finding and developing a clear picture of the problem.Trying to solve a complex problem alone however can be a mistake.
If there were no barriers in the way of achieving a goal, then there would be no problem.
Problem solving involves overcoming the barriers or obstacles that prevent the immediate achievement of goals.
From the information gathered in the first two phases of the problem solving framework it is now time to start thinking about possible solutions to the identified problem.
In a group situation this stage is often carried out as a brain-storming session, letting each person in the group express their views on possible solutions (or part solutions).
This stage may not be necessary for very simple problems but is essential for problems of a more complex nature.
During this stage you will generate a range of possible courses of action, but with little attempt to evaluate them at this stage.Dealing with a customer complaint may be seen as a problem that needs to be solved, and it's almost certainly a good idea to do so.The employee dealing with the complaint should be asking what has caused the customer to complain in the first place, if the cause of the complaint can be eliminated then the problem is solved.However well prepared we are for problem solving, there is always an element of the unknown.Although planning and structuring will help make the problem solving process more likely to be successful, good judgement and an element of good luck will ultimately determine whether problem solving was a success.Interpersonal relationships fail and businesses fail because of poor problem solving.This is often due to either problems not being recognised or being recognised but not being dealt with appropriately.Following on from problem identification, structuring the problem is all about gaining more information about the problem and increasing understanding.This phase is all about fact finding and analysis, building a more comprehensive picture of both the goal(s) and the barrier(s).Of course for the CEO wanting to increase profits there may be many more barriers preventing the goal from being reached.The CEO needs to attempt to recognise these barriers and remove them or find other ways to achieve the goals of the organisation.