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Problems are at the center of what many people do at work every day.Whether you're solving a problem for a client (internal or external), supporting those who are solving problems, or discovering new problems to solve, the problems you face can be large or small, simple or complex, and easy or difficult.
We look at these, and then review some useful, well-established problem-solving frameworks.
The key to a good problem definition is ensuring that you deal with the real problem – not its symptoms.
So it follows that when you're taking this more formal approach, your problem is likely to be complex and difficult to understand, because there's a web of interrelated issues.
The good news is that there are numerous tools you can use to make sense of this tangled mess!
Much of that confidence comes from having a good process to use when approaching a problem.
With one, you can solve problems quickly and effectively.The CATWOE checklist provides a powerful reminder to look at many elements that may contribute to the problem, and to expand your thinking around it.When your problem is simple, the solution is usually obvious, and you don't need to follow the four steps we outlined earlier.help you ask the right questions, and work through the layers of a problem to uncover what's really going on.At this stage, it's also important to ensure that you look at the issue from a variety of perspectives.“I was very pleased with the 2-day Problem Solving program at RSM.Having good, strong problem solving skills can make a huge difference to your career.Without one, your solutions may be ineffective, or you'll get stuck and do nothing, with sometimes painful consequences.There are four basic steps in solving a problem: Steps 2 to 4 of this process are covered in depth in other areas of Mind Tools.For these, see our sections on Creativity for step 2 (generating alternatives); Decision Making for step 3 (evaluating and selecting alternatives); and Project Management for step 4 (implementing solutions).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.