Practice these steps to improve your problem solving/decision making ability.
Problem solving and decision making is a key management function. Practice these steps to improve your problem solving/decision making ability.
- Identify the symptoms of a problem
- Define the problem
- Analyse the problem
- Develop alternative solutions
- Evaluate possible solutions/alternatives
- Select the best solution – make a choice/decision
- Implement the decision
- Follow-up and evaluate the results
Identify the Symptoms
Take notice of what you see around you in the workplace.
Define the Problem
Locate the core problem, not the symptom of the core problem.
Analyse the Problem
Get as many facts as you can. Assess and use the information at hand to tease out the problem. Consult with others, to assist you.
Develop Alternative Solutions
Consider several possibilities for each issue. Formulate a number of options, as rarely is only one solution possible. Consult widely.
Evaluate Possible Solutions/alternatives
Test each one of them by imaging that they have already been put into effect. Consider the positives and negatives (the pros and cons) of each solution and weigh them all up.
Select the Best Solution – make a decision
Draw on your previous experience, advice from others, intuition, experimentation or maybe scientific tools to help you decide.
Implement the Decision
Plan how you will implement the decision. Consider ‘the who, the how, the when, the where and the what’ of it. Communicate the decisions to all appropriate stakeholders.
Follow-up and Evaluate the Results
Monitor the outcome of the decision, to ensure you have solved the problem. By monitoring progress carefully and frequently, changes can then be made, if required.
Adapted from Bateman, T. & & Zeithaml, C. (1990) Management Function and Strategy. Richard D. Irwin, Inc. USA.