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Using established tools and techniques will help you improve your approach to solving the problems that your team and your organization face.You'll be more successful at solving problems and, because of this, more successful at what you do.The articles in this section of Mind Tools therefore focus on helping you make a success of the first of these steps – defining the problem.
The key to a good problem definition is ensuring that you deal with the real problem – not its symptoms.
For example, if performance in your department is substandard, you might think the problem is with the individuals submitting work.
At this stage, it's also important to ensure that you look at the issue from a variety of perspectives.
If you commit yourself too early, you can end up with a problem statement that's really a solution instead.
Using our example of substandard work, Cause-and-Effect diagrams would highlight that a lack of training could contribute to the problem, and they could also highlight possible causes such as work overload and problems with technology.
When your problem occurs within a business process, creating a Flow Chart that's causing your problem.Appreciative Inquiry is designed to help you understand complex problems so that you can start the process of solving them.It uses four stages to help you uncover more details about what's creating the problem, and then define actions that will improve the situation.Having good, strong problem solving skills can make a huge difference to your career.Problems are at the center of what many people do at work every day.The good news is that there are numerous tools you can use to make sense of this tangled mess!Many of these help you create a clear visual representation of the situation, so that you can better understand what's going on. To generate viable solutions, you must have a solid understanding of what's causing the problem.Simplex involves an eight-stage process: problem finding, fact finding, defining the problem, idea finding, selecting and evaluating, planning, selling the idea, and acting.These steps build upon the basic process described earlier, and they create a cycle of problem finding and solving that will continually improve your organization.The Drill Down technique will help you split your problem into smaller parts, each of which can then be solved appropriately.The four-step approach to solving problems that we mentioned at the beginning of this article will serve you well in many situations.