What Is a Problem-Solving Process? (With How to Create)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Developing a process for solving problems is essential to approaching challenges with a positive attitude and resolving them promptly. Your process can incorporate your unique attributes and help you apply your strongest skill sets when resolving problems. Understanding how this process works and its benefits can help you determine how to create a process for solving problems. In this article, we explore what a problem-solving process is, outline the aspects of solving problems, highlight the importance of developing processes, and discuss how you can create your process.

What is a problem-solving process?

A problem-solving process is a combination of the unique steps you take when identifying challenges and developing solutions to them. These steps help you identify the challenge, trace its root cause, consider solutions, sample opinions, and implement solutions. You can apply this process in various situations in the workplace, such as when leading your team or managing a project. This process can also help you to foster self-development, resilience, and confidence in your personal endeavours.

Aspects of solving problems

Developing a unique process for solving problems incorporates some vital aspects to ensure its efficiency, including:

Problem definition

The first step in a solution-oriented process involves defining the relevant problems. This is because the success of your solutions and problem-solving attempts relies on your clear understanding of the problem. You can use tools at this stage to study the problems and trace contributory factors. For instance, a flowchart can help you develop cause-and-effect diagrams, showing how factors contribute to a current problem. In this aspect of developing a process, it's important to source accurate data for a true portrayal of the problem.

Solution generation

The goal of a problem-solving approach is to resolve identified problems effectively. This makes it important to brainstorm on possible solutions to the problems and contributing factors you identify. You can generate multiple solutions at this stage to prepare you with alternatives where certain solutions are ineffective. It's vital to distinguish short-term solutions from long-term solutions at this stage. You can also consult team members or the individuals responsible for processes relating to a challenge to brainstorm diverse solutions. Afterwards, align the solutions you generate with your collective objectives.

Evaluation

With a list of possible solutions in place, it's helpful to evaluate the best approach to solving a problem. You can combine various criteria when determining the most effective approach for solving problems. For instance, you can consider which approach is most cost-effective and likely to resolve a problem in the long term. In a team environment, you can also consider how many team members agree with certain alternative solutions. It's also helpful that your evaluation is data-driven. This basis helps you avoid bias and select feasible solutions in your evaluations.

Related: Helpful Self-Evaluation Questions (With Definitions and Tips)

Implementation and monitoring

This aspect of your process involves implementing the solutions you evaluate as achievable, and it can take different forms. You can design a pilot test for your selected solutions and observe how they interact with the challenges. The implementation aspect of your process helps you determine the efficiency of a solution. When monitoring your solution, you can take feedback from those it affects. This feedback helps you make appropriate adjustments and achieve consensus on your objectives. Monitoring your solutions can also help you track the resources you're expending.

Importance of a problem-solving process

Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from developing a process for solving problems:

Improves analysis

Developing a process for solving problems improves your understanding of processes and how cause-and-effect relationships develop. By recognizing how a factor contributes to a certain result, you can determine how to optimize a process. Analyzing the relationship between processes can also help you determine trends and solutions likely to function long-term. An analytical approach can help you avoid project pitfalls and delays by accurately projecting process feasibility.

Improves risk management

Developing a process for resolving problems helps you remain flexible when your projections face challenges. It can also help you remain productive under pressure, when deadlines move forward, or after relevant project resources become scarce. A process for resolving problems also equips you to review your solutions as you apply them to problems. This allows you to engage and manage risks better and attempt various solutions before applying the best one.

Encourages creative thinking

Developing a unique problem-solving strategy allows you to apply a definite template to various situations. The diversity of these situations encourages you to think creatively when incorporating peculiar demands into your template. Creativity also helps you identify the connection between processes and identify relevant factors. Identifying relevant processes can also make your solutions more effective as you optimize resource use.

Related: 7 Steps to Improve Your Creative Thinking Skills

Reduces bias

Making effective solutions usually relies on your unbiased understanding of the problem. Developing a template for resolving problems helps you control your biases by applying similar structured approaches to problems. When you repeat these steps with various problems, it improves your analysis and allows you to consider all the relevant factors.

Better time management

A defined process for solving problems helps you save time when evaluating and implementing solutions. When you encounter a problem, you can promptly apply your process instead of spending time worrying about the problem. The process also helps you remain confident in your problem-solving abilities even with complex problems. This step-by-step approach can help you manage your time and increase your productivity.

How to create your process for solving problems

Consider these steps when developing your process for solving problems:

1. Evaluate your previous problem-solving approaches

Even if you're yet to develop a definite problem-solving strategy, you can consider the approaches you've used with former problems. You can consider the details of these approaches by evaluating the relevant problems and the effectiveness of your solution. Your evaluation can determine how similar issues occur in a current problem. Where your previous solution was effective, you can consider applying it to the current problem. Evaluating your previous solutions also helps you recognize areas to improve when developing your current approach.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Identify your strengths

It's vital to incorporate your strengths when developing an effective process for solving problems. By recognizing your strengths, you can emphasize problem-solving strategies that rely on them and reduce your dependence on shortcomings. Identifying your strengths also helps you develop a reliable strategy that you can apply spontaneously. For instance, where analytics forms one of your strengths, you can incorporate data sourcing into your process. You can also use the knowledge of your skills to determine which skills to improve.

Related: How to Answer "What Is Your Greatest Strength?" (With Examples)

3. Research feasible strategies for solving problems

While problems can be complex and novel, it's unlikely they have never occurred before. When developing your problem-solving strategy, you can consider the prevalent approaches in your industry. By observing managers, team members, or fellow professionals, you can determine the common approaches to resolving certain problems. Sourcing data to show the success of these approaches can help you determine the feasibility of a solution before application. To ensure your process suits you, you can consider your research findings against your strengths, personality type, and skills.

4. Encourage feedback and ask for support

Developing solutions in work environments usually affect other team members or employees. This makes it important to encourage collaborations and feedback to develop effective solutions. For instance, a solution to an ineffective customer relationship management system affects the professionals that use the system. Developing effective solutions for such systems requires interactions with concerned team members to consider their ideas and recommendations. This makes it important to include avenues for interaction and feedback in your processes as it improves flexibility and efficiency as you develop diverse solutions.

5. Test and revise your processes

Developing your unique process for solving problems can take a while and usually requires adjustments to keep it efficient. When you encounter a problem of new complexity, you can review your existing process to determine its feasibility. You can also test your process by applying it to problems and monitoring its effectiveness at each stage. For instance, a process can be effective in resolving data-related problems but less effective with human resources problems. Determining where your process is less effective can help you make necessary adjustments. This helps you refine your process and prepare better approaches to new problems.

6. Acquire and improve problem-solving skills

The success of your process of solving problems depends on the integration of various problem-solving skills. These skills include analytics, active listening, collaboration, creative thinking, and communication. While you can have a number of these skills as strengths, it's important to improve and develop them. Using these other skills, you can create diverse problem-solving strategies and resolve complex problems. Developing additional skills also gives you a competitive advantage in your career and helps you improve your confidence.

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