## Structured Problem Solving

# Structured Problem Solving

## Definition

Problem solvingconsists of using generic or ad hoc methods, in an orderly manner, for finding solutions to problems. […]

Problems can also be classified into two different types (ill-defined and well-defined) from which appropriate solutions are to be made.Ill-defined problemsare those that do not have clear goals, solution paths, or expected solution.Well-defined problemshave specific goals, clearly defined solution paths, and clear expected solutions. These problems also allow for more initial planning than ill-defined problems.

Furthermore, Wikipedia lists Problem-solving strategies and Problem-solving methodologies.

## Rapid Problem Resolution (RPR)

The most standard approach essentially follows the steps (rapid problem resolution RPR):

**Discover**: problem definition**Investigate**: problem analysis / Identify root cause / Glass box model**Fix**: application of solution concepts / Confirm root cause addressed

You can also do it in seven steps.

## Problem Solving and Continuous Improvements

As RPR has limitations e.g. deals only with a single symptom at a time, typically the solving is embedded in a continuous improvement cycle:

DMAIC or Plan-do-check-act (or the more detailed 8D) that applies to ‘well defined problems’:

## Wicked problems

For ill-defined or wicked problems creative problem solving (CPS) methods are needed: Creative problem solving implies the application of creativity techniques e.g. divergent thinking. The approach looks like:

**Objective Finding (OF)**–*Identify Goal, Wish or Challenge***Fact Finding (FF)**–*Gather Data***Problem Finding (PF) –***Clarify the Problem***Idea Finding (IF)**–*Generate Ideas***Solution Finding (SF)**–*Select and Strengthen Solutions***Acceptance Finding (AF)**–*Plan for Action*

## Further reading

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIZ
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop
- http://www.nickols.us/ten_tips.htm

A common opinion how to solve problems is

If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.

*– Albert Einstein*

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