Problem-Solving Techniques For Business People

Problem-solving techniques in business need to leverage simple decision-making models that can help solve problems quickly and effectively, without getting stuck.

7 Steps To Problem-Solving

7-steps-to-problem-solving
The seven steps to problem-solving are a disciplined and methodical approach to identifying and addressing the root cause of problems. Instead, a more robust approach involves working through a problem using the hypothesis-driven framework of the scientific method. Each viable hypothesis is tested using a range of specific diagnostics, and recommendations are made.

Feynman Technique

feynman-technique
The Feynman Technique is a mental model and strategy for learning something new and committing it to memory. It is often used in exam preparation and for understanding difficult concepts. Physicist Richard Feynman elaborated on this powerful technique to explain anything.

5 Whys Method

5-whys-method
The 5 Whys method is an interrogative problem-solving technique that seeks to understand cause-and-effect relationships. At its core, the technique is used to identify the root cause of a problem by asking the question of why five times. This might unlock new ways to think about a problem and therefore devise a creative solution to solve it.

Fishbone Diagram

fishbone-diagram
The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem. Thus, it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.

Lightning Decision Jam

The Lightning Decision Jam
The Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) is a means of making fast decisions that provide quick direction. The Lightning Decision Jam was developed by design agency AJ&Smart in response to the inefficiency of business meetings. Borrowing ideas from the core principles of design sprints, AJ&Smart created the Lightning Decision Jam.

Less-Is-Better

less-is-better-effect
The less-is-better effect was first proposed by behavioral scientist Christopher Hsee in a 1998 study. He noted in the experiment that a person giving a $45 scarf as a gift was perceived to be more generous than someone giving a $55 coat. The less-is-better effect describes the consumer tendency to choose the worse of two options – provided that each option is presented separately.

Eisenhower Matrix

eisenhower-matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool that helps businesses prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance; named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, the matrix helps businesses and individuals differentiate between the urgent and important to prevent urgent things (seemingly useful in the short-term) cannibalize important things (critical for long-term success).

Cynefin Framework

cynefin-framework
The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision-making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains, and disorder if a domain has not been determined.

Starbusting

starbursting
Starbursting is a structured brainstorming technique with a focus on question generation. Starbursting is a structured form of brainstorming allowing product teams to cover all bases during the ideation process. It utilizes a series of questions to systematically work through various aspects of product development, forcing teams to evaluate ideas based on viability.

Appreciative Inquiry

appreciative-inquiry
Appreciate Inquiry (AI) is an organizational change methodology that focuses on strengths and not on weaknesses. Appreciate Inquiry was created by management professors David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. The Appreciate Inquiry is also known as the 5-D Cycle, an iterative cycle describing five distinct phases, made of define, discover, dream, design, and destiny.

Round-robin Brainstorming

round-robin-brainstorming
Round-robin brainstorming is a collective and iterative approach to brainstorming. Brainstorming is an effective way of generating fresh ideas for an organization. Round-robin brainstorming is a balanced approach, employing an iterative, circular process that builds on the previous contribution of each participant.

Constructive Controversy

constructive-controversy
Constructive controversy is a theory arguing that controversial discussions create a good starting point for understanding complex problems. A constructive controversy discussion is performed by following six steps: organize information and derive conclusions; presenting and advocating decisions; being challenged by opposing views; conceptual conflict and uncertainty; epistemic curiosity and perspective-taking; and reconceptualization, synthesis, and integration.

Affinity Grouping

affinity-grouping
Affinity grouping is a collaborative prioritization process where group participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities according to their similarities. Affinity grouping is a broad and versatile process based on simple but highly effective ideas. It helps teams generate and then organize teams according to their similarity or likeness.

The Fishbone Diagram

fishbone-diagram
The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.

Rolestorming

rolestorming
Rolestorming as a term was first mentioned by personal development guru Rick Griggs in the 1980s.  Rolestorming is a brainstorming technique where participants pretend they are other people when sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Reverse Brainstorming

reverse-brainstorming
Reverse brainstorming takes advantage of the natural human tendency to more easily see problems than solutions. What’s more, many individuals when placed in a traditional brainstorming environment will find it difficult to become creative on command. Reverse brainstorming is an approach where individuals brainstorm the various ways a plan could fail. 

Lotus Diagram

lotus-diagram
A lotus diagram is a creative tool for ideation and brainstorming. The diagram identifies the key concepts from a broad topic for simple analysis or prioritization.

Futures Wheel

futures-wheel
The futures wheel was invented in 1971 by Jerome C. Glenn while he was studying at the Antioch Graduate School of Education.  The futures wheel is a brainstorming framework for visualizing the future consequences of a particular trend or event.

Key highlights of problem-solving techniques in business:

  • Seven Steps to Problem-Solving: A disciplined and methodical approach to identifying and addressing the root cause of problems, using the hypothesis-driven framework of the scientific method.
  • Feynman Technique: A mental model and strategy for learning and understanding new concepts, often used in exam preparation.
  • 5 Whys Method: An interrogative problem-solving technique to identify the root cause of a problem by asking “why” five times.
  • Fishbone Diagram: A diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, representing cause and effect visually.
  • Lightning Decision Jam: A fast decision-making process that provides quick direction, developed by design agency AJ&Smart.
  • Less-Is-Better Effect: The consumer tendency to choose the worse of two options when presented separately.
  • Eisenhower Matrix: A tool to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance.
  • Cynefin Framework: A decision-making and problem-solving framework that provides context and guides an appropriate response.
  • Starbursting: A structured brainstorming technique focused on question generation.
  • Appreciative Inquiry: An organizational change methodology that focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses.
  • Round-robin Brainstorming: A collective and iterative approach to brainstorming.
  • Constructive Controversy: A theory arguing that controversial discussions aid in understanding complex problems.
  • Affinity Grouping: A collaborative prioritization process where participants brainstorm and organize ideas based on similarities.
  • Rolestorming: A brainstorming technique where participants pretend to be other people when sharing their thoughts and ideas.
  • Reverse Brainstorming: An approach where individuals brainstorm ways a plan could fail instead of finding solutions.
  • Lotus Diagram: A creative tool for ideation and brainstorming, identifying key concepts for analysis or prioritization.
  • Futures Wheel: A framework for visualizing the future consequences of a trend or event.

Read Next: Mental ModelsBiasesBounded RationalityMandela EffectDunning-Kruger EffectLindy EffectCrowding Out EffectBandwagon EffectDecision-Making Matrix.

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