Solving Complex Problems

Solving Complex Problems-71
Quite often, what may seem to be a single problem turns out to be a whole series of problems.Going back to our example, substandard work could be caused by insufficient skills, but excessive workloads could also be contributing, as could excessively short lead times and poor motivation.However, if you look a bit deeper, the real issue might be a lack of training, or an unreasonable workload.

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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.

However, for a more comprehensive process, you can use Simplex, Appreciative Inquiry or Soft Systems Methodology (SSM).

These provide detailed steps that you can use to solve a problem effectively.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.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.With one, you can solve problems quickly and effectively.Without one, your solutions may be ineffective, or you'll get stuck and do nothing, with sometimes painful consequences.So, being a confident problem solver is really important to your success.Much of that confidence comes from having a good process to use when approaching a problem.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).


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