Section K Problem‐solving Techniques

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

Problem‐solving is principally a process of applying a series of techniques with varying degrees of complexity. These techniques, which can either be used singly or together, are listed below.

All of the techniques rely on the principle that a group is more likely to produce an effective solution than individuals working on their own. Thus, effective teamwork is an essential element of the problem‐solving process.

The more the initial problem concerns people, the more important it will be to arrive at a consensus solution.

The solution to many problems is likely to involve change, and in these circumstances, it is even more important to involve those concerned or are affected by the change.

The following techniques are listed roughly in order of effort required for successful implementation:

The following list of techniques includes those generally accepted as problem‐solving techniques. However, my experience is that the charts and graphs are more commonly used in reports than as problem‐solving tools. Further, whilst the concept of cause and effect sounds useful, I find that it is little used. The cause‐and‐effect diagram is probably best suited to a manufacturing environment or possibly to the commissioning phase of a process project. Nevertheless, it has been included for completeness.

Apart from brainstorming, the most useful ...

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