Solving Problems Is What We Do

Problem CycleAlthough most people consider problem-solving methods a given, many organizations still use ad hoc methods for addressing problems. In other words, they latch on to the most obvious explanation for a problem and pray that they’ve addressed its root cause. An effective problem-solving method is simply a step-by-step road map for developing solutions. The numerous reasons for using a formal method are very convincing. Here are just a few:

  • Prevents problem solvers from jumping to conclusions. It’s always tempting to propose solutions before a problem is properly defined and its root cause identified. A structured problem-solving method prevents the process from short-circuiting and ensures the critical, preliminary step of truly understanding the problem and its variables.
  • Ensures root cause analysis. An inability—or unwillingness—to identify the root cause is probably the single biggest obstacle to problem solving. However, when one of the explicit steps of a structured problem-solving method is identifying the root cause, it’s much harder to ignore.
  • Demystifies the problem-solving process. When each step of the problem-solving method is understood and agreed upon by all participants, the process gives everyone an opportunity to contribute and drives a team-oriented style of problem solving.
  • Prescribes which analytical tools to use and when. The sheer number of analytical tools available to problem solvers is mind-boggling, and it’s not always clear when the use of a certain one is appropriate. A structured problem-solving method offers guidance on when and how to use the proper tools.

Along with the numerous analytical tools available, there are many structured problem-solving methods. Some are copyrighted, some are public domain, some are very intricate and others are quite simple. Cogent employs a number of problem-solving methods that we have developed over time.