Problem solving model used to address challenges that arise in the workplace.

The Six Step Problem Solving Model

In the workplace, there are always problems that will challenge you. Despite your individual performance or the level of professionalism, problems arise many times in an unpredictable way. Nowadays, the evolution of technology and its expansion in our working environments comes with many situations that tend to create problem-kind in any direction.


Do you like it or not, you will find yourself when you need to address a solution, quickly and feasibly!

To be a problem-solving person is a skill that many employers require for their staff to have. Also, todays, this skill is essential to staff recruiting for most of the companies and businesses. Therefor, if you want to shine or to develop your skills of the future, here is a model that will help you to get there.

This Six-Step method provides focused strategies for the problem solving individual or group. The steps are repeatable. You may return at any point to an earlier step, to reexamine or evaluate again your solution and proceed from there.

Step One: Define the problem

Step one is when the problem is diagnosed. You should pass through analysis of the context and background in which the problem arises. Check for its symptoms, what does it affect and how urgent is it to solve.

There some techniques that you can use to gather information and clarify symptoms that clearly state the existence of a problem. The may you can find out the more certain are you in defining the problem. Those techniques are:

Step Two: Determine the Root Cause(s)

In this step you need to define the source of the problem. After finding what caused it, you must undergo through questions like: Is there any other thing laying behind? Is this something new or known to you? What is important when you look for solutions is that you need to focus in on solving directly the cause and not only the symptoms of the problem. In this step you need to be thoughtful in evaluation of your data and maintain a careful approach of the first step diagnosis. In addition, you may use these tools to help organize all the data and create a clear idea of the problem-roots.

  1. Fishbone Diagram
  2. Pareto analysis
  3. Affinity diagrams


These techniques help you to structure the information and direct your focus to the roots of the problem.

Step Three: Develop Multiple Solutions

Try to develop a multiapproach solution-strategy. One of the elements that distinguish a problem-solving person is the thinking outside the box. At this point is recommended to not stop at your first solution, but go beyond it for more ways to solve the problem. Think about external implications and unusual casualties that might happen for the problem to arise. You can ask your colleagues or open discussions around the problem. Keep an open mind to gather as much as you can according to the nature of the problem. Then, analyze carefully your findings and problem-data. Lay out as many solutions to the problem.

Step Four: Select a Solution

In the fourth step, you must evaluate your multiple solutions and select one to narrow down. This step applies two questions.

  1. Which solution is most feasible?
  2. Which solution is favored by those who will implement and use it?

These two questions will direct you to establish a clear and certain idea of the impact that your solution should have within the working environment and all its effectiveness. Ask these secondary questions that decide if a solution:

  • Can be implemented within an acceptable timeframe?
  • Is cost effective, reliable and realistic?
  • Will make resource usage more effective?
  • Can adapt to conditions as they evolve and change?
  • Its risks are manageable?
  • Will benefit the organization?

Step Five: Implement the Solution

This step is when the solution comes to life. An initial project planning is necessary to implement successfully your solution. Set up the key factors that assure the trajectory of the solution in real practice.  

  • Place a Project Manager (or leader) if necessary
  • Who else needs to be involved to implement the solution
  • Implementation date
  • The key milestone
  • What action need to be taken before starting the solution and during
  • What other needs you might have to think about before and during the implementation

The use of charts, timeline or log frame are very helpful between step 5 and 6. These can organize and coordinate the whole process and implementation group or can disorganize it totally.

Step Six: Evaluate the Outcome

At this step you need to monitor and ensure all the recommendations are followed. Monitoring is highly recommended and involves some key points:

  • Milestones are met
  • Costs are contained
  • Necessary work is completed

Step six is very important and should not be missed out. It tells you if your solution has achieved the results wanted or has gone off course. It also ensures you whether the implementation does not introduce to new arising problems. Keep always in mind that we learn from mistakes.

This Six-Step model helps you deal with any problem at your working space as well as in other areas of your life. Do not forget that we, always, learn from our mistakes. Is significant to have this mindset as a personal attitude when it comes to dealing with difficult issues and also keep it as a tool that helps you to continuously develop your professionalism skills. So, important to personalize these six key-skills in the near future. This means that you must learn, train yourself and do practice in order to achieve the best of the skills.

Skills to develop:

  1. Listening
  2. Analytical Thinking
  3. Creative Thinking
  4. Communication
  5. Decision-making
  6. Teamwork

Keep these as part of your main goal. Once you have made few early efforts to achieve these, then they will develop naturally during your entire professional growth.

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