Effective Decision Making Process: 7 Steps with Examples

By Editorial Team on June 3, 2023 — 9 minutes to read

Making decisions is an inevitable part of life, and knowing how to navigate through the decision-making process can be crucial for both your personal and professional success. In this article, we will explore the seven essential steps to help you make thoughtful and informed choices.

Step 1: Identify the Decision

When you’re faced with a problem or challenge, it’s essential to identify the decision you need to make. Start by defining the objective of what you want to achieve. It’s helpful to take a step back and assess the situation to fully understand the problem at hand.

To get a clear picture of the issue, gather information from multiple angles and examine the factors involved. This will help you gain a better understanding of the context and possible options available. Make sure to evaluate the pros and cons of each scenario.

For example, if your company is facing a dip in sales, you might need to decide whether to launch a new advertising campaign or improve product offerings.

Step 2: Gather Relevant Information

Conduct thorough market research to understand the current state of the market, as well as any expected trends and developments. Make use of both primary and secondary sources, such as interviews with experts and published reports, while remaining mindful of any potential biases. Your objective is to collect accurate, up-to-date data that allows you to make an informed decision.

Consider the various resources at your disposal. These may be online databases, industry reports, or even colleagues with relevant expertise. As you gather information, remember to keep track of your sources to reference them later. Maintaining proper documentation can save time and simplify any further analysis.

Don’t forget to consult the stakeholders involved in the decision. Their opinions, concerns, and suggestions can offer valuable insights and expose any blind spots. Engaging them in the process also fosters a sense of shared responsibility and encourages open communication.

For example:

  • If you’re deciding on a new product to launch, gather information on market trends, customer preferences, and competitor offerings. This will provide a comprehensive understanding of the market landscape and opportunities for growth.
  • When selecting a new supplier, research their financial stability, environmental performance, and customer reviews. This will help you ensure a long-lasting and beneficial partnership.
  • If you’re debating whether to pursue a new marketing campaign, consult your sales team, marketing department, and customer service representatives. Their firsthand experience interacting with customers and interpreting their needs can prove invaluable in shaping the objectives and strategies of the campaign.

Step3: Identify Alternatives

While brainstorming alternatives, keep an open mind and consider all possible options, even if they seem unconventional or unusual at first glance. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious; sometimes, the most effective solution might be the one that is least expected.

As you gather alternatives, it’s helpful to list them down. Organize your list in a way that makes it easy for you to see the various options, their pros, and cons. Summarizing each alternative in a concise manner can help you to better understand their implications.

For example, when deciding on a new marketing strategy, you could list these alternatives:

  • Traditional Marketing : Pros: Familiarity, proven results; Cons: High cost, limited audience reach
  • Social Media Marketing : Pros: Low cost, broad audience reach; Cons: Time-intensive, potential negative engagement
  • Content Marketing : Pros: Engaging, builds trust; Cons: Slow results, resource-intensive

Once you’ve listed your alternatives with their pros and cons, you can start comparing them to one another. Try to objectively assess the advantages and drawbacks of each solution in relation to the decision at hand. It might be helpful to rank them based on their potential effectiveness and feasibility.

As you identify alternatives, always be prepared to revise or expand your list. Be open to new insights and feedback from others.

Step 4: Weigh the Evidence

After gathering all the relevant information and alternatives for a decision, you’ll want to weigh the evidence before making a choice. This step in the 7-step decision-making process is crucial and ensures that you’re evaluating each option fairly.

To weigh the evidence properly, consider starting with a decision matrix. A decision matrix is a tool that helps organize and compare different alternatives based on specific criteria that matter to you. This method helps you quantify each option, making it easier to evaluate and prioritize them.

When using a decision matrix, list your options in rows and your criteria in columns. You’ll then assign a weight to each criterion according to its importance. After that, rate each option based on how well it meets the specific criterion. Multiply the rating by the weight, and then sum the results to get a total score for each option.

While weighing the evidence, it’s essential to trust your intuition. Your gut feeling might provide valuable insights based on your past experiences and knowledge. However, don’t rely solely on intuition, as it may sometimes lead to bias or ignore critical data.

During this stage, it’s crucial to assess the risks of each option. Knowing the potential consequences of each choice allows you to anticipate possible setbacks and challenges, preparing you for better decision-making. Be mindful of the common pitfalls in the process, such as groupthink, lack of diversity in perspectives, or being overly influenced by emotional factors.

Here are some examples to illustrate this step:

  • Career: You’re considering a job offer from two companies. You gather information about salary, benefits, company culture, and growth opportunities, then weigh the evidence using a decision matrix. Your intuition tells you that one company aligns better with your values, so you weigh that factor more heavily when making your decision.
  • Investment: You’re evaluating two investments with different levels of risk and potential return. By weighing the evidence – historical performance, growth potential, and industry trends – you create a decision matrix that includes your personal risk tolerance and financial goals. This method helps you determine which investment is the better fit for your unique situation.
  • Product Launch: You have several ideas for new products, and you need to decide which one to prioritize. By weighing the evidence – potential market demand, production costs, and competition – using a decision matrix, you can quantitatively assess each idea and make an informed decision on which product to develop first.

Weighing the evidence is essential to making well-informed decisions. By considering various factors, relying on both intuition and data, and assessing the risks and challenges, you’ll be better equipped to make choices that benefit both you and your organization.

Step 5: Choose Among Alternatives

Start by prioritizing your options. Analyze each alternative and determine which ones align best with your objectives. This part could be as simple as ranking alternatives from most desirable to least desirable. Prioritize based on factors such as potential benefits, risks, costs, and resources available.

Another approach is using a decision tree, a visual tool that can help clarify and map out your choices. A decision tree charts the various courses of action, outcome probabilities, and expected payoff. By working through a decision tree, you can systematically evaluate your options and find the optimal solution.

As you evaluate each choice, imagine potential outcomes and how they could impact your objectives. Assessing the pros and cons of each alternative will provide insight on the best course of action.

Example 1: Imagine you’re debating between accepting a job offer or staying at your current job. You could prioritize based on factors like salary, career growth potential, work-life balance, and job security. Use a decision tree to visualize the potential payoffs and risks of each choice.

Example 2: If you’re deciding on a marketing strategy for your business, prioritize options like cost-effectiveness, target audience reach, and expected return on investment. Use a decision tree to analyze each strategy, considering factors like potential growth and customer engagement.

Step 6: Take Action

Once you’ve weighed your options and made a decision, it’s time to take action. As a part of an organization, your leadership and management skills will play a crucial role in executing the plan. Follow these steps to bring your decision to life:

  • Communicate the decision to all relevant parties: Make sure everyone involved, from team members to stakeholders, knows the chosen course of action. Clear communication will ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Set goals and expectations: Establish both short-term and long-term objectives to monitor progress and determine whether the chosen path is effective. It’s essential to have a clear set of expectations so that your team is aligned with your vision. Examples of goals: – Rolling out a new product within 6 months – Decreasing expenditure by 15% in the next quarter – Increasing overall market share by 10% in the following year
  • Create a timeframe: Outline the sequence of tasks and establish deadlines for each step. A well-defined timeline will help in keeping the momentum going, and ensure that the desired results are reached within the allotted time.
  • Delegate responsibilities and provide resources: Assign tasks to team members based on their expertise and provide the necessary tools, training, and support to help them succeed.
  • Monitor progress and make adjustments as needed: Regularly review your team’s progress and be open to making changes if something isn’t working. Flexibility is crucial for effective decision-making.

Step 7: Review Your Decision

As you go through the decision-making process, it’s essential to review your decision to ensure it’s the best choice for you and your business. This step allows you to reflect on the potential risks and benefits associated with your decision. By reviewing your decision, you position yourself to make better choices and improve your overall decision-making skills.

Example : You decided to implement a new software system in your company. After a few months, review the system’s performance and observe if it increases productivity, reduces errors, and improves customer satisfaction. If needed, make adjustments to maximize its benefits.

Example : After launching a new product, analyze its sales performance, customer feedback, and market response. Identify areas where improvements can be made, or if necessary, consider discontinuing the product.

Don’t be afraid to adjust course if you find that your initial choice isn’t working as you had hoped. Keep in mind that making sound decisions is an ongoing process requiring flexibility and adaptability. As your situation evolves and circumstances change, you must be willing to reassess and revise your decisions to maintain success and growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which steps form the decision-making process.

The decision-making process usually consists of seven steps:

  • Identify the problem or decision
  • Gather information and resources
  • Identify possible options or solutions
  • Evaluate the options and their outcomes
  • Choose the best option for the situation
  • Implement your chosen decision
  • Review the results and learn from them

What variations exist in the decision-making process?

While the decision-making process is typically broken down into seven steps, there may be variations depending on factors like individual preferences, the complexity of the decision, and time constraints. Some variations include:

  • Relying more on intuition or gut feelings
  • Skipping certain steps due to urgency
  • Using decision-making tools or models like SWOT analysis or decision trees

How can I apply decision-making steps in real life?

You can apply the seven-step decision-making process in real life by:

  • Clearly defining the problem or decision
  • Gathering relevant information and resources
  • Identifying possible options, solutions or alternatives
  • Evaluating each option and predicting their outcomes
  • Selecting the best option based on your criteria
  • Implementing your chosen decision
  • Reviewing the results and learning from the experience

Related: Personal SWOT Analysis: Unlock Your Potential in 4 Steps

  • What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)
  • Ethical Decision Making Models and 6 Steps of Ethical Decision Making Process
  • Effective Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace (Examples)
  • How to Resolve Employee Conflict at Work [Steps, Tips, Examples]
  • How to Write Inspiring Core Values? 5 Steps with Examples
  • 38 Empathy Statements: Examples of Empathy

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This is how effective teams navigate the decision-making process

Zero Magic 8 Balls required.

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Flipping a coin. Throwing a dart at a board. Pulling a slip of paper out of a hat.

Sure, they’re all ways to make a choice. But they all hinge on random chance rather than analysis, reflection, and strategy — you know, the things you actually need to make the big, meaty decisions that have major impacts.

So, set down that Magic 8 Ball and back away slowly. Let’s walk through the standard framework for decision-making that will help you and your team pinpoint the problem, consider your options, and make your most informed selection. Here’s a closer look at each of the seven steps of the decision-making process, and how to approach each one. 

Step 1: Identify the decision

Most of us are eager to tie on our superhero capes and jump into problem-solving mode — especially if our team is depending on a solution. But you can’t solve a problem until you have a full grasp on what it actually is .

This first step focuses on getting the lay of the land when it comes to your decision. What specific problem are you trying to solve? What goal are you trying to achieve? 

How to do it: 

  • Use the 5 whys analysis to go beyond surface-level symptoms and understand the root cause of a problem.
  • Try problem framing to dig deep on the ins and outs of whatever problem your team is fixing. The point is to define the problem, not solve it. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Decision fatigue , which is the tendency to make worse decisions as a result of needing to make too many of them. Making choices is mentally taxing , which is why it’s helpful to pinpoint one decision at a time. 

2. Gather information

Your team probably has a few hunches and best guesses, but those can lead to knee-jerk reactions. Take care to invest adequate time and research into your decision.

This step is when you build your case, so to speak. Collect relevant information — that could be data, customer stories, information about past projects, feedback, or whatever else seems pertinent. You’ll use that to make decisions that are informed, rather than impulsive.

  • Host a team mindmapping session to freely explore ideas and make connections between them. It can help you identify what information will best support the process.
  • Create a project poster to define your goals and also determine what information you already know and what you still need to find out. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Information bias , or the tendency to seek out information even if it won’t impact your action. We have the tendency to think more information is always better, but pulling together a bunch of facts and insights that aren’t applicable may cloud your judgment rather than offer clarity. 

3. Identify alternatives

Use divergent thinking to generate fresh ideas in your next brainstorm

Use divergent thinking to generate fresh ideas in your next brainstorm

Blame the popularity of the coin toss, but making a decision often feels like choosing between only two options. Do you want heads or tails? Door number one or door number two? In reality, your options aren’t usually so cut and dried. Take advantage of this opportunity to get creative and brainstorm all sorts of routes or solutions. There’s no need to box yourselves in. 

  • Use the Six Thinking Hats technique to explore the problem or goal from all sides: information, emotions and instinct, risks, benefits, and creativity. It can help you and your team break away from your typical roles or mindsets and think more freely.
  • Try brainwriting so team members can write down their ideas independently before sharing with the group. Research shows that this quiet, lone thinking time can boost psychological safety and generate more creative suggestions .

⚠️ Watch out for: Groupthink , which is the tendency of a group to make non-optimal decisions in the interest of conformity. People don’t want to rock the boat, so they don’t speak up. 

4. Consider the evidence

Armed with your list of alternatives, it’s time to take a closer look and determine which ones could be worth pursuing. You and your team should ask questions like “How will this solution address the problem or achieve the goal?” and “What are the pros and cons of this option?” 

Be honest with your answers (and back them up with the information you already collected when you can). Remind the team that this isn’t about advocating for their own suggestions to “win” — it’s about whittling your options down to the best decision. 

How to do it:

  • Use a SWOT analysis to dig into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the options you’re seriously considering.
  • Run a project trade-off analysis to understand what constraints (such as time, scope, or cost) the team is most willing to compromise on if needed. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Extinction by instinct , which is the urge to make a decision just to get it over with. You didn’t come this far to settle for a “good enough” option! 

5. Choose among the alternatives

This is it — it’s the big moment when you and the team actually make the decision. You’ve identified all possible options, considered the supporting evidence, and are ready to choose how you’ll move forward.

However, bear in mind that there’s still a surprising amount of room for flexibility here. Maybe you’ll modify an alternative or combine a few suggested solutions together to land on the best fit for your problem and your team. 

  • Use the DACI framework (that stands for “driver, approver, contributor, informed”) to understand who ultimately has the final say in decisions. The decision-making process can be collaborative, but eventually someone needs to be empowered to make the final call.
  • Try a simple voting method for decisions that are more democratized. You’ll simply tally your team’s votes and go with the majority. 

⚠️ Watch out for: Analysis paralysis , which is when you overthink something to such a great degree that you feel overwhelmed and freeze when it’s time to actually make a choice. 

6. Take action

Making a big decision takes a hefty amount of work, but it’s only the first part of the process — now you need to actually implement it. 

It’s tempting to think that decisions will work themselves out once they’re made. But particularly in a team setting, it’s crucial to invest just as much thought and planning into communicating the decision and successfully rolling it out. 

  • Create a stakeholder communications plan to determine how you’ll keep various people — direct team members, company leaders, customers, or whoever else has an active interest in your decision — in the loop on your progress.
  • Define the goals, signals, and measures of your decision so you’ll have an easier time aligning the team around the next steps and determining whether or not they’re successful. 

⚠️Watch out for: Self-doubt, or the tendency to question whether or not you’re making the right move. While we’re hardwired for doubt , now isn’t the time to be a skeptic about your decision. You and the team have done the work, so trust the process. 

7. Review your decision

9 retrospective techniques that won’t bore your team to tears

9 retrospective techniques that won’t bore your team to tears

As the decision itself starts to shake out, it’s time to take a look in the rearview mirror and reflect on how things went.

Did your decision work out the way you and the team hoped? What happened? Examine both the good and the bad. What should you keep in mind if and when you need to make this sort of decision again? 

  • Do a 4 L’s retrospective to talk through what you and the team loved, loathed, learned, and longed for as a result of that decision.
  • Celebrate any wins (yes, even the small ones ) related to that decision. It gives morale a good kick in the pants and can also help make future decisions feel a little less intimidating.

⚠️ Watch out for: Hindsight bias , or the tendency to look back on events with the knowledge you have now and beat yourself up for not knowing better at the time. Even with careful thought and planning, some decisions don’t work out — but you can only operate with the information you have at the time. 

Making smart decisions about the decision-making process

You’re probably picking up on the fact that the decision-making process is fairly comprehensive. And the truth is that the model is likely overkill for the small and inconsequential decisions you or your team members need to make.

Deciding whether you should order tacos or sandwiches for your team offsite doesn’t warrant this much discussion and elbow grease. But figuring out which major project to prioritize next? That requires some careful and collaborative thought. 

It all comes back to the concept of satisficing versus maximizing , which are two different perspectives on decision making. Here’s the gist:

  • Maximizers aim to get the very best out of every single decision.
  • Satisficers are willing to settle for “good enough” rather than obsessing over achieving the best outcome.

One of those isn’t necessarily better than the other — and, in fact, they both have their time and place.

A major decision with far-reaching impacts deserves some fixation and perfectionism. However, hemming and hawing over trivial choices ( “Should we start our team meeting with casual small talk or a structured icebreaker?” ) will only cause added stress, frustration, and slowdowns. 

As with anything else, it’s worth thinking about the potential impacts to determine just how much deliberation and precision a decision actually requires. 

Decision-making is one of those things that’s part art and part science. You’ll likely have some gut feelings and instincts that are worth taking into account. But those should also be complemented with plenty of evidence, evaluation, and collaboration.

The decision-making process is a framework that helps you strike that balance. Follow the seven steps and you and your team can feel confident in the decisions you make — while leaving the darts and coins where they belong.

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7 Useful Steps in the Decision-Making Process (With Templates)

Praburam Srinivasan

Growth Marketing Manager

July 26, 2023

Decisions are a fact of life—whether you have to decide what you want for dinner, which candidate to hire for your lead IT role, or what products to bring to market this year. Every single day we make choices that can lead to progress or result in consequences.

Behind those decisions is a complex multi-step process. 

Harnessing control over that process empowers your decision-making and leads to more successful outcomes. Not only do you learn how to make great decisions, but you also learn from bad decisions so you don’t make the same mistakes twice.

With this guide to the decision-making process, you’ll learn seven critical steps to making better decisions. We’ll cover the different types of decision-making methods you can leverage in your business.

Plus, we’ll highlight decision-making templates for your team to develop profitable products and meet company goals. 👀

What is the Decision-Making Process?

Rational decision-making model, intuitive decision-making model, recognition-primed decision model, creative decision-making model, vroom-yetton decision-making model, 1. identify the decision you need to make, 2. gather information internally and externally, 3. determine potential solutions, 4. weigh the evidence of each option, 5. make the final decision, 6. take action on your decision, 7. conduct a review, 1. decision-making framework document, 2. decision tree, 3. project management decision log, 4. decision log.

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The decision-making process is a step-by-step procedure designed to create solutions to problems based on compiling information, examining the various options, and choosing how to proceed. 

From identifying the problem to reviewing all the options and implementing a plan of action, the seven-step decision-making process is well-suited for business decisions as well as more complicated personal choices. 🌻

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Types of Decision-Making Methods

There are several different types of effective decision-making models, including rational, creative, and intuitive—to name a few. Choosing the right model depends on the level of your decision-making skills, the amount of time you have, the nature of the decision, and your overall decision-making strategy. 

Here’s a brief breakdown of the different models of decision-making to try to find possible solutions to your roadblocks. 🤔

A rational and informed decision model focuses on logically laying out all the different alternative solutions. It’s the most popular model but can also require a lot of time in terms of research. 

With this model, you’ll identify all potential solutions and then work through the pros and cons of each to make an effective decision. It’s the best model for addressing problems that have a big impact on projects or the business as a whole since it involves a thoughtful and methodical approach.

The intuitive model is all about making choices based on feelings and gut instincts. It’s ideal in situations where there are time constraints since you can act quickly. 

However, this approach is best reserved for experienced business decision-making personnel who’ve handled similar problems before. Since you aren’t working with data, you need to have prior experience with pattern recognition to leverage this effectively. 

This model blends the approaches of rational and intuitive methods, but the defining factor is that you only assess one possible solution, rather than all of the available alternatives. Here’s how this model works:

  • Identify the problem
  • Work through a solution, mentally visualizing the impacts and outcomes 
  • Put the plan into action, if the anticipated result is acceptable

Again, this decision-making model is best suited for experts and business leaders. It’s ideal to use for situations where time pressures exist.

This decision-making approach combines parts of the rational model and the intuitive model. It starts by gathering information on the problem and coming up with potential solutions. Instead of breaking down the pros and cons of each, you let your intuition and subconscious take over, leading you to a course of action that’s then tested. 

This iterative problem-solving solution is ideal for brainstorming and experienced decision-makers like entrepreneurs.

The Vroom-Yetton model uses seven yes-or-no questions and five effective decision-making styles to guide you to the best decision. It’s one of the more complex models as you need to use a decision tree to get to the best option based on how you answer the questions and which style you choose. 

Decision-making process: adding a new Whiteboard

This model is best for teams and collaborative decision-making. The framework has built-in steps to segment work and assign responsibility for decision-making. 

7 Steps in the Decision-Making Process

Ready to discover a better way to make informed decisions? Work your way through this seven-step decision-making model when faced with a tough dilemma. From gathering information to weighing all the options, you’ll make better-informed decisions that can move the needle when it comes to your goals. ✨

The first thing you need to do is figure out what decision you’re trying to make. Maybe you have a roadblock when it comes to project execution or perhaps you have a shortage of resources.

Whatever it is, you need to clearly define the problem and scope of work before you even start thinking about solutions. To figure out what decision you need to make ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What is the specific problem? Be wary of being too broad or lumping multiple issues together. Identify exactly what the issue is and which team members are directly affected
  • Is there a goal tied to this decision? Prioritize any problems that are directly connected to project goals. Make the problem measurable so you can see how it affects the goal after you’ve made a decision
  • How will you know if the decision made an impact? When making decisions, you expect results. Figure out how you will evaluate if the decision you made is the right one

ClickUp Assumption Grid Decision Matrix Template

Making informed decisions is almost always better than just making a random choice. This step of the decision-making process is critical to your success. 

Start by gathering relevant information internally. Look for past situations where your team or company handled a similar problem and came up with a solution. Review project documentation to gather insights into what led to the problem at hand. 

Work within your department and in related departments to collect historical data on similar issues and the decisions connected to them. Walk through their prior experience and note any insights or relevant information.

Then, go outside your organization to find available information. Market research is an excellent way to see if competitors are having similar issues. Review studies and consider working with a consultant if you want more information or expertise.

Once you have all the necessary information, it’s time to start reviewing the available options. In most cases, there will be more than one potential solution to the problem. Making the right decision will depend on your company’s needs and the market environment at any given time.

For example, let’s say you work as a marketing project manager and your goal this quarter is to increase conversions by 300%. Your possible options may be to invest in paid advertising, create new blog content, or run social media campaigns.

There are also scenarios where you may choose a couple of different decision-making models or solutions rather than just one course of action. Be careful of biases—particularly if you’ve worked on a similar problem in the past.

Just because a solution worked once before doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice in similar situations. ✍️

Now that you know your options, it’s time to start weighing the evidence to see what the best course of action is. Examine how your company or competitors have responded to similar situations in the past. 

Make a list of pros and cons for each of the options. Consider if any of them offer additional rewards alongside solving the problem at hand. To do this, use strategic planning templates and methods like SWOT analysis and decision matrices . 

Now is the time to make a final decision and choose a course of action. Based on the information you gathered and your review of all the options, decide how you want to proceed. 

Maybe you’ll combine aspects of a few different solutions. Perhaps you’ll choose one specific approach to solve the problem. Consider all the evidence, review the alternatives, and choose the best solution.

You’ve taken the time and effort to review your options and made a choice. Next, you need to create a plan and put it into action. 

Create a project plan laying out affected stakeholders and which team members will play a role. Address resource allocation and plan the budget to include your new solutions. Prioritize projects and tasks and highlight any dependencies that may affect the outcome of your course of action.

Create a clear framework of expectations for all team members, and identify decision-makers within the action phase. As Chris Small, the VP of Soundstripe, said , “Communication is easy when there is only one channel between decision and action.” 

Decision-making process: App Marketplace in ClickUp

Break tasks down into easy to manage phases and be sure to let everyone know who is responsible for which decisions and actions. ✅

Back in step one, you established metrics and evaluation criteria for the problem solutions. Gauge whether you made the right decision by conducting a review of the decision-making process.

Here are some questions to ask yourself at the end of the decision-making process:  

  • Did you make a good decision?
  • Did the decision have any negative impacts?
  • How did the decision impact stakeholders?
  • Was there a better solution?
  • Was the problem solved?
  • Where could you have done a better job in the decision-making process?

Taking action is important, but taking time to review your decisions is just as critical. Schedule a decision-making review into your project timeline  to gather intel on what worked and what didn’t. Collaborate with team members to discuss their views on the process and results.

Decision-Making Templates for Your Team

Ready to implement good decision-making processes? These decision-making templates from ClickUp make life easier whether you’re an owner in charge of business decision-making or a project manager leading a rockstar team. 💪

Decision Making Framework Document

The Decision-Making Framework Document from ClickUp is an easy way to create a study for solving a problem and choosing the best solution. 

Fill out the template steps including identifying the problem, potential solutions, and impacts to the business. The framework lets you put all your ideas in one place, allowing for better analysis.

Decision Tree Whiteboard

Use ClickUp’s Decision Tree to map out possible options and solutions on a visual whiteboard. This template is ideal for teams that are looking to promote internal discussions on the best approaches. 

Color-coded steps make it easy to identify roadblocks and challenges throughout the process. Best of all, the template is designed to be collaborative, so you can get input from various team members across departments.

Project Management Decision Log

With Clickup’s Project Management Decision Log , capture and track all decision-making processes in an easy-to-manage dashboard. Five different status options and three custom fields make it easy to see what stage of the process each decision is in. 

The four view types let you sort by the calendar to see what’s happening now or view the decision board for a broader overview.

Decision Log

Document decision criteria, monitor progress, and assess outcomes with ClickUp’s Decision Log . Designed as a comprehensive tool, it’s ideal for managing your rational decision-making process from start to finish. Use it to create a plan for problem solving within departments, at the company level, and on specific projects.

Master the Decision-Making Process With ClickUp

You make decisions every single day—and in business, it’s a critical component to meet goals. Spending time choosing the right approach based on your specific business needs is essential whether you’re a project manager or an entrepreneur. 

Whether you’re making important decisions that affect the company’s bottom line or looking for innovative ways to serve your customers, it’s vital to put thought into the decisions you make. Acting hastily can lead to mistakes, but proper processes like the seven-step framework and methods above can help make you a better decision-maker.

Set yourself and your team up for success, and get started by using ClickUp to empower your decision-making processes. From templates that make it easier to log decisions to decision trees to map out your thought process, you’ll find countless ways to make decisions more effectively. 🙌

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8 Steps in the Decision-Making Process

Business team meeting to discuss an important decision

  • 04 Feb 2020

Strong decision-making skills are essential for newly appointed and seasoned managers alike. The ability to navigate complex challenges and develop a plan can not only lead to more effective team management but drive key organizational change initiatives and objectives.

Despite decision-making’s importance in business, a recent survey by McKinsey shows that just 20 percent of professionals believe their organizations excel at it. Survey respondents noted that, on average, they spend 37 percent of their time making decisions, but more than half of it’s used ineffectively.

For managers, it’s critical to ensure effective decisions are made for their organizations’ success. Every managerial decision must be accompanied by research and data , collaboration, and alternative solutions.

Few managers, however, reap the benefits of making more thoughtful choices due to undeveloped decision-making models.

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Why Is Making Decisions Important?

According to Harvard Business School Professor Leonard Schlesinger, who’s featured in the online course Management Essentials , most managers view decision-making as a single event, rather than a process. This can lead to managers overestimating their abilities to influence outcomes and closing themselves off from alternative perspectives and diverse ways of thinking.

“The reality is, it’s very rare to find a single point in time where ‘a decision of significance’ is made and things go forward from there,” Schlesinger says. “Embedded in this work is the notion that what we’re really talking about is a process. The role of the manager in managing that process is actually quite straightforward, yet, at the same time, extraordinarily complex.”

If you want to further your business knowledge and be more effective in your role, it’s critical to become a strong decision-maker. Here are eight steps in the decision-making process you can employ to become a better manager and have greater influence in your organization.

Steps in the Decision-Making Process

1. frame the decision.

Pinpointing the issue is the first step to initiating the decision-making process. Ensure the problem is carefully analyzed, clearly defined, and everyone involved in the outcome agrees on what needs to be solved. This process will give your team peace of mind that each key decision is based on extensive research and collaboration.

Schlesinger says this initial action can be challenging for managers because an ill-formed question can result in a process that produces the wrong decision.

“The real issue for a manager at the start is to make sure they are actively working to shape the question they’re trying to address and the decision they’re trying to have made,” Schlesinger says. “That’s not a trivial task.”

2. Structure Your Team

Managers must assemble the right people to navigate the decision-making process.

“The issue of who’s going to be involved in helping you to make that decision is one of the most central issues you face,” Schlesinger says. “The primary issue being the membership of the collection of individuals or group that you’re bringing together to make that decision.”

As you build your team, Schlesinger advises mapping the technical, political, and cultural underpinnings of the decision that needs to be made and gathering colleagues with an array of skills and experience levels to help you make an informed decision. .

“You want some newcomers who are going to provide a different point of view and perspective on the issue you’re dealing with,” he says. “At the same time, you want people who have profound knowledge and deep experience with the problem.”

It’s key to assign decision tasks to colleagues and invite perspectives that uncover blindspots or roadblocks. Schlesinger notes that attempting to arrive at the “right answer” without a team that will ultimately support and execute it is a “recipe for failure.”

3. Consider the Timeframe

This act of mapping the issue’s intricacies should involve taking the decision’s urgency into account. Business problems with significant implications sometimes allow for lengthier decision-making processes, whereas other challenges call for more accelerated timelines.

“As a manager, you need to shape the decision-making process in terms of both of those dimensions: The criticality of what it is you’re trying to decide and, more importantly, how quickly it needs to get decided given the urgency,” Schlesinger says. “The final question is, how much time you’re going to provide yourself and the group to invest in both problem diagnosis and decisions.”

4. Establish Your Approach

In the early stages of the decision-making process, it’s critical to set ground rules and assign roles to team members. Doing so can help ensure everyone understands how they contribute to problem-solving and agrees on how a solution will be reached.

“It’s really important to get clarity upfront around the roles people are going to play and the ways in which decisions are going to get made,” Schlesinger says. “Often, managers leave that to chance, so people self-assign themselves to roles in ways that you don’t necessarily want, and the decision-making process defers to consensus, which is likely to lead to a lower evaluation of the problem and a less creative solution.”

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5. Encourage Discussion and Debate

One of the issues of leading a group that defaults to consensus is that it can shut out contrarian points of view and deter inventive problem-solving. Because of this potential pitfall, Schlesinger notes, you should designate roles that focus on poking holes in arguments and fostering debate.

“What we’re talking about is establishing a process of devil’s advocacy, either in an individual or a subgroup role,” he says. “That’s much more likely to lead to a deeper critical evaluation and generate a substantial number of alternatives.”

Schlesinger adds that this action can take time and potentially disrupt group harmony, so it’s vital for managers to guide the inner workings of the process from the outset to ensure effective collaboration and guarantee more quality decisions will be made.

“What we need to do is establish norms in the group that enable us to be open to a broader array of data and decision-making processes,” he says. “If that doesn’t happen upfront, but in the process without a conversation, it’s generally a source of consternation and some measure of frustration.”

Related: 3 Group Decision-Making Techniques for Success

6. Navigate Group Dynamics

In addition to creating a dynamic in which candor and debate are encouraged, there are other challenges you need to navigate as you manage your team throughout the decision-making process.

One is ensuring the size of the group is appropriate for the problem and allows for an efficient workflow.

“In getting all the people together that have relevant data and represent various political and cultural constituencies, each incremental member adds to the complexity of the decision-making process and the amount of time it takes to get a decision made and implemented,” Schlesinger says.

Another task, he notes, is identifying which parts of the process can be completed without face-to-face interaction.

“There’s no question that pieces of the decision-making process can be deferred to paper, email, or some app,” Schlesinger says. “But, at the end of the day, given that so much of decision-making requires high-quality human interaction, you need to defer some part of the process for ill-structured and difficult tasks to a face-to-face meeting.”

7. Ensure the Pieces Are in Place for Implementation

Throughout your team’s efforts to arrive at a decision, you must ensure you facilitate a process that encompasses:

  • Shared goals that were presented upfront
  • Alternative options that have been given rigorous thought and fair consideration
  • Sound methods for exploring decisions’ consequences

According to Schlesinger, these components profoundly influence the quality of the solution that’s ultimately identified and the types of decisions that’ll be made in the future.

“In the general manager’s job, the quality of the decision is only one part of the equation,” he says. “All of this is oriented toward trying to make sure that once a decision is made, we have the right groupings and the right support to implement.”

8. Achieve Closure and Alignment

Achieving closure in the decision-making process requires arriving at a solution that sufficiently aligns members of your group and garners enough support to implement it.

As with the other phases of decision-making, clear communication ensures your team understands and commits to the plan.

In a video interview for the online course Management Essentials , Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria says it’s essential to explain the rationale behind the decision to your employees.

“If it’s a decision that you have to make, say, ‘I know there were some of you who thought differently, but let me tell you why we went this way,’” Nohria says. “This is so the people on the other side feel heard and recognize the concerns they raised are things you’ve tried to incorporate into the decision and, as implementation proceeds, if those concerns become real, then they’ll be attended to.”

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How to Improve Your Decision-Making

An in-depth understanding of the decision-making process is vital for all managers. Whether you’re an aspiring manager aiming to move up at your organization or a seasoned executive who wants to boost your job performance, honing your approach to decision-making can improve your managerial skills and equip you with the tools to advance your career.

Do you want to become a more effective decision-maker? Explore Management Essentials —one of our online leadership and management courses —to learn how you can influence the context and environment in which decisions get made.

This article was update on July 15, 2022. It was originally published on February 4, 2020.

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10 Problem-solving strategies to turn challenges on their head

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What is an example of problem-solving?

What are the 5 steps to problem-solving, 10 effective problem-solving strategies, what skills do efficient problem solvers have, how to improve your problem-solving skills.

Problems come in all shapes and sizes — from workplace conflict to budget cuts.

Creative problem-solving is one of the most in-demand skills in all roles and industries. It can boost an organization’s human capital and give it a competitive edge. 

Problem-solving strategies are ways of approaching problems that can help you look beyond the obvious answers and find the best solution to your problem . 

Let’s take a look at a five-step problem-solving process and how to combine it with proven problem-solving strategies. This will give you the tools and skills to solve even your most complex problems.

Good problem-solving is an essential part of the decision-making process . To see what a problem-solving process might look like in real life, let’s take a common problem for SaaS brands — decreasing customer churn rates.

To solve this problem, the company must first identify it. In this case, the problem is that the churn rate is too high. 

Next, they need to identify the root causes of the problem. This could be anything from their customer service experience to their email marketing campaigns. If there are several problems, they will need a separate problem-solving process for each one. 

Let’s say the problem is with email marketing — they’re not nurturing existing customers. Now that they’ve identified the problem, they can start using problem-solving strategies to look for solutions. 

This might look like coming up with special offers, discounts, or bonuses for existing customers. They need to find ways to remind them to use their products and services while providing added value. This will encourage customers to keep paying their monthly subscriptions.

They might also want to add incentives, such as access to a premium service at no extra cost after 12 months of membership. They could publish blog posts that help their customers solve common problems and share them as an email newsletter.

The company should set targets and a time frame in which to achieve them. This will allow leaders to measure progress and identify which actions yield the best results.


Perhaps you’ve got a problem you need to tackle. Or maybe you want to be prepared the next time one arises. Either way, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the five steps of problem-solving. 

Use this step-by-step problem-solving method with the strategies in the following section to find possible solutions to your problem.

1. Identify the problem

The first step is to know which problem you need to solve. Then, you need to find the root cause of the problem. 

The best course of action is to gather as much data as possible, speak to the people involved, and separate facts from opinions. 

Once this is done, formulate a statement that describes the problem. Use rational persuasion to make sure your team agrees .

2. Break the problem down 

Identifying the problem allows you to see which steps need to be taken to solve it. 

First, break the problem down into achievable blocks. Then, use strategic planning to set a time frame in which to solve the problem and establish a timeline for the completion of each stage.

3. Generate potential solutions

At this stage, the aim isn’t to evaluate possible solutions but to generate as many ideas as possible. 

Encourage your team to use creative thinking and be patient — the best solution may not be the first or most obvious one.

Use one or more of the different strategies in the following section to help come up with solutions — the more creative, the better.

4. Evaluate the possible solutions

Once you’ve generated potential solutions, narrow them down to a shortlist. Then, evaluate the options on your shortlist. 

There are usually many factors to consider. So when evaluating a solution, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will my team be on board with the proposition?
  • Does the solution align with organizational goals ?
  • Is the solution likely to achieve the desired outcomes?
  • Is the solution realistic and possible with current resources and constraints?
  • Will the solution solve the problem without causing additional unintended problems?


5. Implement and monitor the solutions

Once you’ve identified your solution and got buy-in from your team, it’s time to implement it. 

But the work doesn’t stop there. You need to monitor your solution to see whether it actually solves your problem. 

Request regular feedback from the team members involved and have a monitoring and evaluation plan in place to measure progress.

If the solution doesn’t achieve your desired results, start this step-by-step process again.

There are many different ways to approach problem-solving. Each is suitable for different types of problems. 

The most appropriate problem-solving techniques will depend on your specific problem. You may need to experiment with several strategies before you find a workable solution.

Here are 10 effective problem-solving strategies for you to try:

  • Use a solution that worked before
  • Brainstorming
  • Work backward
  • Use the Kipling method
  • Draw the problem
  • Use trial and error
  • Sleep on it
  • Get advice from your peers
  • Use the Pareto principle
  • Add successful solutions to your toolkit

Let’s break each of these down.

1. Use a solution that worked before

It might seem obvious, but if you’ve faced similar problems in the past, look back to what worked then. See if any of the solutions could apply to your current situation and, if so, replicate them.

2. Brainstorming

The more people you enlist to help solve the problem, the more potential solutions you can come up with.

Use different brainstorming techniques to workshop potential solutions with your team. They’ll likely bring something you haven’t thought of to the table.

3. Work backward

Working backward is a way to reverse engineer your problem. Imagine your problem has been solved, and make that the starting point.

Then, retrace your steps back to where you are now. This can help you see which course of action may be most effective.

4. Use the Kipling method

This is a method that poses six questions based on Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “ I Keep Six Honest Serving Men .” 

  • What is the problem?
  • Why is the problem important?
  • When did the problem arise, and when does it need to be solved?
  • How did the problem happen?
  • Where is the problem occurring?
  • Who does the problem affect?

Answering these questions can help you identify possible solutions.

5. Draw the problem

Sometimes it can be difficult to visualize all the components and moving parts of a problem and its solution. Drawing a diagram can help.

This technique is particularly helpful for solving process-related problems. For example, a product development team might want to decrease the time they take to fix bugs and create new iterations. Drawing the processes involved can help you see where improvements can be made.


6. Use trial-and-error

A trial-and-error approach can be useful when you have several possible solutions and want to test them to see which one works best.

7. Sleep on it

Finding the best solution to a problem is a process. Remember to take breaks and get enough rest . Sometimes, a walk around the block can bring inspiration, but you should sleep on it if possible.

A good night’s sleep helps us find creative solutions to problems. This is because when you sleep, your brain sorts through the day’s events and stores them as memories. This enables you to process your ideas at a subconscious level. 

If possible, give yourself a few days to develop and analyze possible solutions. You may find you have greater clarity after sleeping on it. Your mind will also be fresh, so you’ll be able to make better decisions.

8. Get advice from your peers

Getting input from a group of people can help you find solutions you may not have thought of on your own. 

For solo entrepreneurs or freelancers, this might look like hiring a coach or mentor or joining a mastermind group. 

For leaders , it might be consulting other members of the leadership team or working with a business coach .

It’s important to recognize you might not have all the skills, experience, or knowledge necessary to find a solution alone. 

9. Use the Pareto principle

The Pareto principle — also known as the 80/20 rule — can help you identify possible root causes and potential solutions for your problems.

Although it’s not a mathematical law, it’s a principle found throughout many aspects of business and life. For example, 20% of the sales reps in a company might close 80% of the sales. 

You may be able to narrow down the causes of your problem by applying the Pareto principle. This can also help you identify the most appropriate solutions.

10. Add successful solutions to your toolkit

Every situation is different, and the same solutions might not always work. But by keeping a record of successful problem-solving strategies, you can build up a solutions toolkit. 

These solutions may be applicable to future problems. Even if not, they may save you some of the time and work needed to come up with a new solution.


Improving problem-solving skills is essential for professional development — both yours and your team’s. Here are some of the key skills of effective problem solvers:

  • Critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Communication skills , including active listening
  • Decision-making
  • Planning and prioritization
  • Emotional intelligence , including empathy and emotional regulation
  • Time management
  • Data analysis
  • Research skills
  • Project management

And they see problems as opportunities. Everyone is born with problem-solving skills. But accessing these abilities depends on how we view problems. Effective problem-solvers see problems as opportunities to learn and improve.

Ready to work on your problem-solving abilities? Get started with these seven tips.

1. Build your problem-solving skills

One of the best ways to improve your problem-solving skills is to learn from experts. Consider enrolling in organizational training , shadowing a mentor , or working with a coach .

2. Practice

Practice using your new problem-solving skills by applying them to smaller problems you might encounter in your daily life. 

Alternatively, imagine problematic scenarios that might arise at work and use problem-solving strategies to find hypothetical solutions.

3. Don’t try to find a solution right away

Often, the first solution you think of to solve a problem isn’t the most appropriate or effective.

Instead of thinking on the spot, give yourself time and use one or more of the problem-solving strategies above to activate your creative thinking. 


4. Ask for feedback

Receiving feedback is always important for learning and growth. Your perception of your problem-solving skills may be different from that of your colleagues. They can provide insights that help you improve. 

5. Learn new approaches and methodologies

There are entire books written about problem-solving methodologies if you want to take a deep dive into the subject. 

We recommend starting with “ Fixed — How to Perfect the Fine Art of Problem Solving ” by Amy E. Herman. 

6. Experiment

Tried-and-tested problem-solving techniques can be useful. However, they don’t teach you how to innovate and develop your own problem-solving approaches. 

Sometimes, an unconventional approach can lead to the development of a brilliant new idea or strategy. So don’t be afraid to suggest your most “out there” ideas.

7. Analyze the success of your competitors

Do you have competitors who have already solved the problem you’re facing? Look at what they did, and work backward to solve your own problem. 

For example, Netflix started in the 1990s as a DVD mail-rental company. Its main competitor at the time was Blockbuster. 

But when streaming became the norm in the early 2000s, both companies faced a crisis. Netflix innovated, unveiling its streaming service in 2007. 

If Blockbuster had followed Netflix’s example, it might have survived. Instead, it declared bankruptcy in 2010.

Use problem-solving strategies to uplevel your business

When facing a problem, it’s worth taking the time to find the right solution. 

Otherwise, we risk either running away from our problems or headlong into solutions. When we do this, we might miss out on other, better options.

Use the problem-solving strategies outlined above to find innovative solutions to your business’ most perplexing problems.

If you’re ready to take problem-solving to the next level, request a demo with BetterUp . Our expert coaches specialize in helping teams develop and implement strategies that work.

Boost your productivity

Maximize your time and productivity with strategies from our expert coaches.

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

What is lateral thinking? 7 techniques to encourage creative ideas

Learn what process mapping is and how to create one (+ examples), make the most of your time with the best time management tools, how to create a work plan (with template), the only guide you'll need to create effective cascading goals, 10 organizational skills that will put you a step ahead, hit the ground running with this ultimate 30-60-90 day plan, create smart kpis to strategically grow your business, the pareto principle: how the 80/20 rule can help you do more with less, curious wanting to learn more is key to career success, get smart about your goals at work and start seeing results, 5 problem-solving questions to prepare you for your next interview, 8 creative solutions to your most challenging problems, how much do distractions cost 8 effects of lack of focus, why building a personal supply chain is key to productivity, 20 best productivity books and why you should read them, how to make a to-do list that simplifies your life, how to create a scope of work in 8 steps, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

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MindManager Blog

The 5 steps of the solving problem process

August 17, 2023 by MindManager Blog

Whether you run a business, manage a team, or work in an industry where change is the norm, it may feel like something is always going wrong. Thankfully, becoming proficient in the problem solving process can alleviate a great deal of the stress that business issues can create.

Understanding the right way to solve problems not only takes the guesswork out of how to deal with difficult, unexpected, or complex situations, it can lead to more effective long-term solutions.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the 5 steps of problem solving, and help you explore a few examples of problem solving scenarios where you can see the problem solving process in action before putting it to work.

Understanding the problem solving process

When something isn’t working, it’s important to understand what’s at the root of the problem so you can fix it and prevent it from happening again. That’s why resolving difficult or complex issues works best when you apply proven business problem solving tools and techniques – from soft skills, to software.

The problem solving process typically includes:

  • Pinpointing what’s broken by gathering data and consulting with team members.
  • Figuring out why it’s not working by mapping out and troubleshooting the problem.
  • Deciding on the most effective way to fix it by brainstorming and then implementing a solution.

While skills like active listening, collaboration, and leadership play an important role in problem solving, tools like visual mapping software make it easier to define and share problem solving objectives, play out various solutions, and even put the best fit to work.

Before you can take your first step toward solving a problem, you need to have a clear idea of what the issue is and the outcome you want to achieve by resolving it.

For example, if your company currently manufactures 50 widgets a day, but you’ve started processing orders for 75 widgets a day, you could simply say you have a production deficit.

However, the problem solving process will prove far more valuable if you define the start and end point by clarifying that production is running short by 25 widgets a day, and you need to increase daily production by 50%.

Once you know where you’re at and where you need to end up, these five steps will take you from Point A to Point B:

  • Figure out what’s causing the problem . You may need to gather knowledge and evaluate input from different documents, departments, and personnel to isolate the factors that are contributing to your problem. Knowledge visualization software like MindManager can help.
  • Come up with a few viable solutions . Since hitting on exactly the right solution – right away – can be tough, brainstorming with your team and mapping out various scenarios is the best way to move forward. If your first strategy doesn’t pan out, you’ll have others on tap you can turn to.
  • Choose the best option . Decision-making skills, and software that lets you lay out process relationships, priorities, and criteria, are invaluable for selecting the most promising solution. Whether it’s you or someone higher up making that choice, it should include weighing costs, time commitments, and any implementation hurdles.
  • Put your chosen solution to work . Before implementing your fix of choice, you should make key personnel aware of changes that might affect their daily workflow, and set up benchmarks that will make it easy to see if your solution is working.
  • Evaluate your outcome . Now comes the moment of truth: did the solution you implemented solve your problem? Do your benchmarks show you achieved the outcome you wanted? If so, congratulations! If not, you’ll need to tweak your solution to meet your problem solving goal.

In practice, you might not hit a home-run with every solution you execute. But the beauty of a repeatable process like problem solving is that you can carry out steps 4 and 5 again by drawing from the brainstorm options you documented during step 2.

Examples of problem solving scenarios

The best way to get a sense of how the problem solving process works before you try it for yourself is to work through some simple scenarios.

Here are three examples of how you can apply business problem solving techniques to common workplace challenges.

Scenario #1: Manufacturing

Building on our original manufacturing example, you determine that your company is consistently short producing 25 widgets a day and needs to increase daily production by 50%.

Since you’d like to gather data and input from both your manufacturing and sales order departments, you schedule a brainstorming session to discover the root cause of the shortage.

After examining four key production areas – machines, materials, methods, and management – you determine the cause of the problem: the material used to manufacture your widgets can only be fed into your equipment once the machinery warms up to a specific temperature for the day.

Your team comes up with three possible solutions.

  • Leave your machinery running 24 hours so it’s always at temperature.
  • Invest in equipment that heats up faster.
  • Find an alternate material for your widgets.

After weighing the expense of the first two solutions, and conducting some online research, you decide that switching to a comparable but less expensive material that can be worked at a lower temperature is your best option.

You implement your plan, monitor your widget quality and output over the following week, and declare your solution a success when daily production increases by 100%.

Scenario #2: Service Delivery

Business training is booming and you’ve had to onboard new staff over the past month. Now you learn that several clients have expressed concern about the quality of your recent training sessions.

After speaking with both clients and staff, you discover there are actually two distinct factors contributing to your quality problem:

  • The additional conference room you’ve leased to accommodate your expanding training sessions has terrible acoustics
  • The AV equipment you’ve purchased to accommodate your expanding workforce is on back-order – and your new hires have been making do without

You could look for a new conference room or re-schedule upcoming training sessions until after your new equipment arrives. But your team collaboratively determines that the best way to mitigate both issues at once is by temporarily renting the high-quality sound and visual system they need.

Using benchmarks that include several weeks of feedback from session attendees, and random session spot-checks you conduct personally, you conclude the solution has worked.

Scenario #3: Marketing

You’ve invested heavily in product marketing, but still can’t meet your sales goals. Specifically, you missed your revenue target by 30% last year and would like to meet that same target this year.

After collecting and examining reams of information from your sales and accounting departments, you sit down with your marketing team to figure out what’s hindering your success in the marketplace.

Determining that your product isn’t competitively priced, you map out two viable solutions.

  • Hire a third-party specialist to conduct a detailed market analysis.
  • Drop the price of your product to undercut competitors.

Since you’re in a hurry for results, you decide to immediately reduce the price of your product and market it accordingly.

When revenue figures for the following quarter show sales have declined even further – and marketing surveys show potential customers are doubting the quality of your product – you revert back to your original pricing, revisit your problem solving process, and implement the market analysis solution instead.

With the valuable information you gain, you finally arrive at just the right product price for your target market and sales begin to pick up. Although you miss your revenue target again this year, you meet it by the second quarter of the following year.

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  • Miles Anthony Smith
  • Sep 12, 2022
  • 12 min read

The Ultimate Problem-Solving Process Guide: 31 Steps and Resources

Updated: Jan 24, 2023


prob·lem-solv·ing noun -the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But in reality problem-solving is hard. It's almost always more complex than it seems. That's why problem-solving can be so frustrating sometimes. You can feel like you’re spinning your wheels, arguing in circles, or just failing to find answers that actually work. And when you've got a group working on a problem, it can get even muddier …differences of opinions, viewpoints colored by different backgrounds, history, life experiences, you name it. We’re all looking at life and work from different angles, and that often means disagreement. Sometimes sharp disagreement. That human element, figuring out how to take ourselves out of the equation and make solid, fact-based decisions , is precisely why there’s been so much written on problem-solving. Which creates its own set of problems. Whose method is best? How can you possibly sift through them all? Are we to have one person complete the entire problem-solving process by themselves or rely on a larger team to find answers to our most vexing challenges in the workplace ? Today, we’re going to make sense of it all. We’ll take a close look at nine top problem-solving methods. Then we’ll grab the best elements of all of them to give you a process that will have your team solving problems faster, with better results , and maybe with less sharp disagreement. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!


While there are loads of methods to choose from, we are going to focus on nine of the more common ones. You can use some of these problem-solving techniques reactively to solve a known issue or proactively to find more efficient or effective ways of performing tasks. If you want to explore other methods, check out this resource here . A helpful bit of advice here is to reassure people that you aren’t here to identify the person that caused the problem . You’re working to surface the issue, solve it and make sure it doesn’t happen again, regardless of the person working on the process. It can’t be understated how important it is to continually reassure people of this so that you get unfiltered access to information. Without this, people will often hide things to protect themselves . After all, nobody wants to look bad, do they? With that said, let’s get started...


Alex Osborn coined the term “Creative Problem Solving” in the 1940s with this simple four-step process:

Clarify : Explore the vision, gather data, and formulate questions.

Ideate : This stage should use brainstorming to generate divergent thinking and ideas rather than the random ideas normally associated with brainstorming.

Develop : Formulate solutions as part of an overall plan.

Implement : Put the plan into practice and communicate it to all parties.


Appreciative Inquiry 4D Cycle

Source: This method seeks, first and foremost, to identify the strengths in people and organizations and play to that “positive core” rather than focus our energies on improving weaknesses . It starts with an “affirmative topic,” followed by the “positive core (strengths).” Then this method delves into the following stages:

Discovery (fact-finding)

Dream (visioning the future)

Design (strategic purpose)

Destiny (continuous improvement)


This method simply suggests that we ask “Why” at least five times during our review of the problem and in search of a fix. This helps us dig deeper to find the the true reason for the problem, or the root cause. Now, this doesn’t mean we just keeping asking the same question five times. Once we get an answer to our first “why”, we ask why to that answer until we get to five “whys”.

Using the “five whys” is part of the “Analyze” phase of Six Sigma but can be used with or without the full Six Sigma process.

Review this simple Wikipedia example of the 5 Whys in action:

The vehicle will not start. (the problem)

Why? - The battery is dead. (First why)

Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)

Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)

Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (Fourth why)

Why? - The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)


Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify

While many people have at least heard of Lean or Six Sigma, do we know what it is? Like many problem-solving processes, it has five main steps to follow.

Define : Clearly laying out the problem and soliciting feedback from those who are customers of the process is necessary to starting off on the right foot.

Measure : Quantifying the current state of the problem is a key to measuring how well the fix performed once it was implemented.

Analyze : Finding out the root cause of the problem (see number 5 “Root Cause Analysis” below) is one of the hardest and least explored steps of Six Sigma.

Improve : Crafting, executing, and testing the solution for measureable improvement is key. What doesn’t get implemented and measured really won’t make a difference.

Control : Sustaining the fix through a monitoring plan will ensure things continue to stay on track rather than being a short-lived solution.


Compared to other methods, you’ll more often find this technique in a reactive problem-solving mode, but it is helpful nonetheless. Put simply, it requires a persistent approach to finding the highest-level cause, since most reasons you’ll uncover for a problem don’t tell the whole story.

Most of the time, there are many factors that contributed to an issue. The main reason is often shrouded in either intentional or unintentional secrecy. Taking the time to drill down to the root of the issue is key to truly solving the problem.


Named for W. Edwards Deming and Walter A. Shewhart, this model follows a four-step process:

Plan: Establish goals and objectives at the outset to gain agreement. It’s best to start on a small scale in order to test results and get a quick win.

Do: This step is all about the implementation and execution of the solution.

Check: Study and compare actual to expected results. Chart this data to identify trends.

Act/Adjust: If the check phase showed different results, then adjust accordingly. If worse than expected, then try another fix. If the same or better than expected, then use that as the new baseline for future improvements.


Man Drawing 8 Circles in a Circle

While this is named “8D” for eight disciplines, there are actually nine , because the first is listed as step zero. Each of the disciplines represents a phase of this process. Its aim is to implement a quick fix in the short term while working on a more permanent solution with no recurring issues.

Prepare and Plan : Collecting initial information from the team and preparing your approach to the process is a necessary first step.

Form a Team : Select a cross-functional team of people, one leader to run meetings and the process, and one champion/sponsor who will be the final decision-maker.

Describe the Problem : Using inductive and deductive reasoning approaches, lay out the precise issue to be corrected.

Interim Containment Action : Determine if an interim solution needs to be implemented or if it can wait until the final fix is firmed up. If necessary, the interim action is usually removed once the permanent solution is ready for implementation.

Root Cause Analysis and Escape Point : Finding the root of the issue and where in the process it could’ve been found but was not will help identify where and why the issue happened.

Permanent Corrective Action : Incorporating key criteria into the solution, including requirements and wants, will help ensure buy-in from the team and your champion.

Implement and Validate the Permanent Corrective Action : Measuring results from the fix implemented validates it or sends the team back to the drawing board to identity a more robust solution.

Prevent Recurrence : Updating work procedure documents and regular communication about the changes are important to keep old habits in check.

Closure and Team Celebration : Taking time to praise the team for their efforts in resolving the problem acknowledges the part each person played and offers a way to move forward.


The US Army has been solving problems for more than a couple of centuries , so why not take a look at the problem-solving process they’ve refined over many years? They recommend this five step process:

Identify the Problem : Take time to understand the situation and define a scope and limitations before moving forward.

Gather Information : Uncover facts, assumptions, and opinions about the problem, and challenge them to get to the truth.

Develop Screening and Evaluation Criteria :

Five screening items should be questioned. Is it feasible, acceptable, distinguishable, and complete?

Evaluation criteria should have these 5 elements: short title, definition, unit of measure, benchmark, and formula.

Generate, Analyze, and Compare Possible Solutions : Most fixes are analyzed, but do you compare yours to one another as a final vetting method?

Choose a Solution and Implement : Put the fix into practice and follow up to ensure it is being followed consistently and having the desired effect.


Thinking Man

Tim Hurson introduced this model in 2007 with his book, Think Better. It consists of the following six actions.

Ask "What is going on?" : Define the impact of the problem and the aim of its solution.

Ask "What is success?" : Spell out the expected outcome, what should not be in fix, values to be considered, and how things will be evaluated.

Ask "What is the question?" : Tailor questions to the problem type. Valuable resources can be wasted asking questions that aren’t truly relevant to the issue.

Generate answers : Prioritize answers that are the most relevant to solutions, without excluding any suggestion to present to the decision-makers.

Forge the solution : Refine the raw list of prioritized fixes, looking for ways to combine them for a more powerful solution or eliminate fixes that don’t fit the evaluation criteria.

Align resources: Identify resources, team, and stakeholders needed to implement and maintain the solution.


Little Girl Reaching For Strawberries On The Counter

Now that we’ve reviewed a number of problem-solving methods, we’ve compiled the various steps into a straightforward, yet in-depth, s tep-by-step process to use the best of all methods.


“Elementary, my dear Watson,” you might say.

This is true, but we often forget the fundamentals before trying to solve a problem. So take some time to gain understanding of critical stakeholder’s viewpoints to clarify the problem and cement consensus behind what the issue really is.

Sometimes it feels like you’re on the same page, but minor misunderstandings mean you’re not really in full agreement.. It’s better to take the time to drill down on an issue before you get too far into solving a problem that may not be the exact problem . Which leads us to…


Root Cause Analysis

This part of the process involves identifying these three items :

What happened?

Why did it happen?

What process do we need to employ to significantly reduce the chances of it happening again ?

You’ll usually need to sort through a series of situations to find the primary cause. So be careful not to stop at the first cause you uncover . Dig further into the situation to expose the root of the issue. We don’t want to install a solution that only fixes a surface-level issue and not the root. T here are typically three types of causes :

Physical: Perhaps a part failed due to poor design or manufacturing.

Human error: A person either did something wrong or didn’t do what needed to be done.

Organizational: This one is mostly about a system, process, or policy that contributed to the error .

When searching for the root cause, it is important to ensure people that you aren’t there to assign blame to a person but rather identify the problem so a fix can prevent future issues.


So far, you’ve approached the problem as a data scientist, searching for clues to the real issue. Now, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open, in case you run across a fix suggested by one of those involved in the process failure. Because they are closest to the problem, they will often have an idea of how to fix things. In other cases, they may be too close, and unable to see how the process could change.

The bottom line is to solicit solution ideas from a variety of sources , both close to and far away from the process you’re trying to improve.

You just never know where the top fix might come from!


"Time To Evaluate" Written on a Notepad with Pink Glasses & Pen

Evaluating solutions to a defined problem can be tricky since each one will have cost, political, or other factors associated with it. Running each fix through a filter of cost and impact is a vital step toward identifying a solid solution and hopefully settling on the one with the highest impact and low or acceptable cost.

Categorizing each solution in one of these four categoriescan help teams sift through them:

High Cost/Low Impact: Implement these last, if at all, since t hey are expensive and won’t move the needle much .

Low Cost/Low Impact: These are cheap, but you won’t get much impact.

High Cost/High Impact: These can be used but should be second to the next category.

Low Cost/High Impact: Getting a solid “bang for your buck” is what these fixes are all about. Start with these first .


Formalize a document that all interested parties (front-line staff, supervisors, leadership, etc.) agree to follow. This will go a long way towards making sure everyone fully understands what the new process looks like, as well as what success will look like .

While it might seem tedious, try to be overly descriptive in the explanation of the solution and how success will be achieved. This is usually necessary to gain full buy-in and commitment to continually following the solution. We often assume certain things that others may not know unless we are more explicit with our communications.


Execution Etched In to a Gear

Arriving at this stage in the process only to forget to consistently apply the solution would be a waste of time, yet many organizations fall down in the execution phase . Part of making sure that doesn’t happen is to communicate the fix and ask for questions multiple times until all parties have a solid grasp on what is now required of them.

One often-overlooked element of this is the politics involved in gaining approval for your solution. Knowing and anticipating objections of those in senior or key leadership positions is central to gaining buy-in before fix implementation.


Next, doing check-ins with the new process will ensure that the solution is working (or identity if further reforms are necessary) . You’ll also see if the measure of predefined success has been attained (or is making progress in that regard).

Without regularly monitoring the fix, you can only gauge the success or failure of the solution by speculation and hearsay. And without hard data to review, most people will tell their own version of the story.


Man Looking Up at a Success Roadmap

Going into any problem-solving process, we should take note that we will not be done once the solution is implemented (or even if it seems to be working better at the moment). Any part of any process will always be subject to the need for future iterations and course corrections . To think otherwise would be either foolish or naive.

There might need to be slight, moderate, or wholesale changes to the solution previously implemented as new information is gained, new technologies are discovered, etc.


Resources | People Working Together At A Large Table With Laptops, Tablets & Paperwork Everywhere

Want to test your problem-solving skills?

Take a look at these twenty case study scenario exercises to see how well you can come up with solutions to these problems.

Still have a desire to discover more about solving problems?

Check out these 14 articles and books...


This book is like a Bible for Lean Six Sigma , all in a pocket-sized package.


Hands Holding Up a Comment Bubble That Says "Advice"

The American Society for Quality has a short article on how it’s important to focus on the problem before searching for a solution.


Wondering if you are solving the right problems? Check out this Harvard Business Review article.


Looking for a fun and easy problem-solving book that was written by a McKinsey consultant? Take a look!


A Drawn Lightbulb Where The Lightbulb is a Crumbled Piece Of Yellow Paper

If you want a deeper dive into the seven steps of Creative Problem Solving , see this article.


Appreciative Inquiry has been proven effective in organizations ranging from Roadway Express and British Airways to the United Nations and the United States Navy. Review this book to join the positive revolution.


The Seattle Police Department has put together nine case studies that you can practice solving . While they are about police work, they have practical application in the sleuthing of work-related problems.


Need a resource to delve further into Root Cause Analysis? Look no further than this book for answers to your most vexing questions .


Business Team Looking At Multi-Colored Sticky Notes On A Wall

This solid case study illustrates the complexities of solving problems in business.


Learn all about the “8Ds” with this concise primer.


Need to reduce groupthink in your organization’s problem-solving process ? Check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.


Woman Thinking Against A Yellow Wall

Tim Hurson details his own Productive Thinking Model at great length in this book from the author.


This simple five-step process will help you break down the problem, analyze it, prioritize solutions, and sell them internally.



There's a lot to take in here, but following some of these methods are sure to improve your problem-solving process. However, if you really want to take problem-solving to the next level, InitiativeOne can come alongside your team to help you solve problems much faster than you ever have before.

There are several parts to this leadership transformation process provided by InitiativeOne, including a personal profile assessment, cognitive learning, group sessions with real-world challenges, personal discovery, and a toolkit to empower leaders to perform at their best.

There are really only two things stopping good teams from being great. One is how they make decisions and two is how they solve problems. Contact us today to grow your team’s leadership performance by making decisions and solving problems more swiftly than ever before!

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The SkillsYouNeed Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Introduction to Communication Skills - The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Making decisions and solving problems are two key areas in life, whether you are at home or at work. Whatever you’re doing, and wherever you are, you are faced with countless decisions and problems, both small and large, every day.

Many decisions and problems are so small that we may not even notice them. Even small decisions, however, can be overwhelming to some people. They may come to a halt as they consider their dilemma and try to decide what to do.

Small and Large Decisions

In your day-to-day life you're likely to encounter numerous 'small decisions', including, for example:

Tea or coffee?

What shall I have in my sandwich? Or should I have a salad instead today?

What shall I wear today?

Larger decisions may occur less frequently but may include:

Should we repaint the kitchen? If so, what colour?

Should we relocate?

Should I propose to my partner? Do I really want to spend the rest of my life with him/her?

These decisions, and others like them, may take considerable time and effort to make.

The relationship between decision-making and problem-solving is complex. Decision-making is perhaps best thought of as a key part of problem-solving: one part of the overall process.

Our approach at Skills You Need is to set out a framework to help guide you through the decision-making process. You won’t always need to use the whole framework, or even use it at all, but you may find it useful if you are a bit ‘stuck’ and need something to help you make a difficult decision.

Decision Making

Effective Decision-Making

This page provides information about ways of making a decision, including basing it on logic or emotion (‘gut feeling’). It also explains what can stop you making an effective decision, including too much or too little information, and not really caring about the outcome.

A Decision-Making Framework

This page sets out one possible framework for decision-making.

The framework described is quite extensive, and may seem quite formal. But it is also a helpful process to run through in a briefer form, for smaller problems, as it will help you to make sure that you really do have all the information that you need.

Problem Solving

Introduction to Problem-Solving

This page provides a general introduction to the idea of problem-solving. It explores the idea of goals (things that you want to achieve) and barriers (things that may prevent you from achieving your goals), and explains the problem-solving process at a broad level.

The first stage in solving any problem is to identify it, and then break it down into its component parts. Even the biggest, most intractable-seeming problems, can become much more manageable if they are broken down into smaller parts. This page provides some advice about techniques you can use to do so.

Sometimes, the possible options to address your problem are obvious. At other times, you may need to involve others, or think more laterally to find alternatives. This page explains some principles, and some tools and techniques to help you do so.

Having generated solutions, you need to decide which one to take, which is where decision-making meets problem-solving. But once decided, there is another step: to deliver on your decision, and then see if your chosen solution works. This page helps you through this process.

‘Social’ problems are those that we encounter in everyday life, including money trouble, problems with other people, health problems and crime. These problems, like any others, are best solved using a framework to identify the problem, work out the options for addressing it, and then deciding which option to use.

This page provides more information about the key skills needed for practical problem-solving in real life.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

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Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

Guiding you through the key skills needed in life

As always at Skills You Need, our approach to these key skills is to provide practical ways to manage the process, and to develop your skills.

Neither problem-solving nor decision-making is an intrinsically difficult process and we hope you will find our pages useful in developing your skills.

Start with: Decision Making Problem Solving

See also: Improving Communication Interpersonal Communication Skills Building Confidence

decision making process

7 steps of the decision-making process

Reading time: about 4 min

  • Identify the decision.
  • Gather relevant info.
  • Identify the alternatives.
  • Weigh the evidence.
  • Choose among the alternatives.
  • Take action.
  • Review your decision.

Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” But unfortunately, not every decision is as simple as “Let’s just take this path and see where it goes,” especially when you’re making a decision related to your business.

Whether you manage a small team or are at the head of a large corporation, your success and the success of your company depend on you making the right decisions—and learning from the wrong decisions.

Use these decision-making process steps to help you make more profitable decisions. You'll be able to better prevent hasty decision-making and make more educated decisions.

decision-making process overview

Defining the business decision-making process

The business decision-making process is a step-by-step process allowing professionals to solve problems by weighing evidence, examining alternatives, and choosing a path from there. This defined process also provides an opportunity, at the end, to review whether the decision was the right one.

7 decision-making process steps

Though there are many slight variations of the decision-making framework floating around on the Internet, in business textbooks, and in leadership presentations, professionals most commonly use these seven steps.

1. Identify the decision

To make a decision, you must first identify the problem you need to solve or the question you need to answer. Clearly define your decision. If you misidentify the problem to solve, or if the problem you’ve chosen is too broad, you’ll knock the decision train off the track before it even leaves the station.

If you need to achieve a specific goal from your decision, make it measurable and timely.

2. Gather relevant information

Once you have identified your decision, it’s time to gather the information relevant to that choice. Do an internal assessment, seeing where your organization has succeeded and failed in areas related to your decision. Also, seek information from external sources, including studies, market research, and, in some cases, evaluation from paid consultants.

Keep in mind, you can become bogged down by too much information and that might only complicate the process.

3. Identify the alternatives

With relevant information now at your fingertips, identify possible solutions to your problem. There is usually more than one option to consider when trying to meet a goal. For example, if your company is trying to gain more engagement on social media, your alternatives could include paid social advertisements, a change in your organic social media strategy, or a combination of the two.

4. Weigh the evidence

Once you have identified multiple alternatives, weigh the evidence for or against said alternatives. See what companies have done in the past to succeed in these areas, and take a good look at your organization’s own wins and losses. Identify potential pitfalls for each of your alternatives, and weigh those against the possible rewards.

5. Choose among alternatives

Here is the part of the decision-making process where you actually make the decision. Hopefully, you’ve identified and clarified what decision needs to be made, gathered all relevant information, and developed and considered the potential paths to take. You should be prepared to choose.

6. Take action

7. review your decision.

After a predetermined amount of time—which you defined in step one of the decision-making process—take an honest look back at your decision. Did you solve the problem? Did you answer the question? Did you meet your goals?

If so, take note of what worked for future reference. If not, learn from your mistakes as you begin the decision-making process again.

Tools for better decision-making

Depending on the decision, you might want to weigh evidence using a decision tree . The example below shows a company trying to determine whether to perform market testing before a product launch. The different branches record the probability of success and estimated payout so the company can see which option will bring in more revenue.

decision tree with formulas

Visual Activities are a perfect choice for quickly synthesizing ideas and gaining consensus. Use these dynamic activities with your team members to turn qualitative feedback into actionable insights and easily make decisions in seconds.

visual activities

A decision matrix is another tool that can help you evaluate your options and make better decisions. Learn how to make a decision matrix and get started quickly with the template below. 

decision matrix example

You can also create a classic pros-and-cons list, and clearly highlight whether your options meet necessary criteria or whether they pose too high of a risk.

pros and cons marketing example

With these 7 steps we've outlined, plus some tools to get you started, you will be able to make more informed decisions faster . 

list problem solving or decision making steps you follow

Explore additional strategies to help with your decision-making process.

About Lucidchart

Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit

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How to make a decision tree in excel.

Use this guide to learn how to make a decision tree in Microsoft Excel—either directly in Excel using Shapes or using a simple Lucidchart integration.

Definition and examples of the consumer decision-making process

Review these steps of the consumer decision-making process and put yourself in the customer’s shoes to make an impact with your sales or marketing.

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list problem solving or decision making steps you follow

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  • Turn your team into skilled problem sol ...

Turn your team into skilled problem solvers with these problem-solving strategies

Sarah Laoyan contributor headshot

Picture this, you're handling your daily tasks at work and your boss calls you in and says, "We have a problem." 

Unfortunately, we don't live in a world in which problems are instantly resolved with the snap of our fingers. Knowing how to effectively solve problems is an important professional skill to hone. If you have a problem that needs to be solved, what is the right process to use to ensure you get the most effective solution?

In this article we'll break down the problem-solving process and how you can find the most effective solutions for complex problems.

What is problem solving? 

Problem solving is the process of finding a resolution for a specific issue or conflict. There are many possible solutions for solving a problem, which is why it's important to go through a problem-solving process to find the best solution. You could use a flathead screwdriver to unscrew a Phillips head screw, but there is a better tool for the situation. Utilizing common problem-solving techniques helps you find the best solution to fit the needs of the specific situation, much like using the right tools.

Decision-making tools for agile businesses

In this ebook, learn how to equip employees to make better decisions—so your business can pivot, adapt, and tackle challenges more effectively than your competition.

Make good choices, fast: How decision-making processes can help businesses stay agile ebook banner image

4 steps to better problem solving

While it might be tempting to dive into a problem head first, take the time to move step by step. Here’s how you can effectively break down the problem-solving process with your team:

1. Identify the problem that needs to be solved

One of the easiest ways to identify a problem is to ask questions. A good place to start is to ask journalistic questions, like:

Who : Who is involved with this problem? Who caused the problem? Who is most affected by this issue?

What: What is happening? What is the extent of the issue? What does this problem prevent from moving forward?

Where: Where did this problem take place? Does this problem affect anything else in the immediate area? 

When: When did this problem happen? When does this problem take effect? Is this an urgent issue that needs to be solved within a certain timeframe?

Why: Why is it happening? Why does it impact workflows?

How: How did this problem occur? How is it affecting workflows and team members from being productive?

Asking journalistic questions can help you define a strong problem statement so you can highlight the current situation objectively, and create a plan around that situation.

Here’s an example of how a design team uses journalistic questions to identify their problem:

Overarching problem: Design requests are being missed

Who: Design team, digital marketing team, web development team

What: Design requests are forgotten, lost, or being created ad hoc.

Where: Email requests, design request spreadsheet

When: Missed requests on January 20th, January 31st, February 4th, February 6th

How : Email request was lost in inbox and the intake spreadsheet was not updated correctly. The digital marketing team had to delay launching ads for a few days while design requests were bottlenecked. Designers had to work extra hours to ensure all requests were completed.

In this example, there are many different aspects of this problem that can be solved. Using journalistic questions can help you identify different issues and who you should involve in the process.

2. Brainstorm multiple solutions

If at all possible, bring in a facilitator who doesn't have a major stake in the solution. Bringing an individual who has little-to-no stake in the matter can help keep your team on track and encourage good problem-solving skills.

Here are a few brainstorming techniques to encourage creative thinking:

Brainstorm alone before hand: Before you come together as a group, provide some context to your team on what exactly the issue is that you're brainstorming. This will give time for you and your teammates to have some ideas ready by the time you meet.

Say yes to everything (at first): When you first start brainstorming, don't say no to any ideas just yet—try to get as many ideas down as possible. Having as many ideas as possible ensures that you’ll get a variety of solutions. Save the trimming for the next step of the strategy. 

Talk to team members one-on-one: Some people may be less comfortable sharing their ideas in a group setting. Discuss the issue with team members individually and encourage them to share their opinions without restrictions—you might find some more detailed insights than originally anticipated.

Break out of your routine: If you're used to brainstorming in a conference room or over Zoom calls, do something a little different! Take your brainstorming meeting to a coffee shop or have your Zoom call while you're taking a walk. Getting out of your routine can force your brain out of its usual rut and increase critical thinking.

3. Define the solution

After you brainstorm with team members to get their unique perspectives on a scenario, it's time to look at the different strategies and decide which option is the best solution for the problem at hand. When defining the solution, consider these main two questions: What is the desired outcome of this solution and who stands to benefit from this solution? 

Set a deadline for when this decision needs to be made and update stakeholders accordingly. Sometimes there's too many people who need to make a decision. Use your best judgement based on the limitations provided to do great things fast.

4. Implement the solution

To implement your solution, start by working with the individuals who are as closest to the problem. This can help those most affected by the problem get unblocked. Then move farther out to those who are less affected, and so on and so forth. Some solutions are simple enough that you don’t need to work through multiple teams.

After you prioritize implementation with the right teams, assign out the ongoing work that needs to be completed by the rest of the team. This can prevent people from becoming overburdened during the implementation plan . Once your solution is in place, schedule check-ins to see how the solution is working and course-correct if necessary.

Implement common problem-solving strategies

There are a few ways to go about identifying problems (and solutions). Here are some strategies you can try, as well as common ways to apply them:

Trial and error

Trial and error problem solving doesn't usually require a whole team of people to solve. To use trial and error problem solving, identify the cause of the problem, and then rapidly test possible solutions to see if anything changes. 

This problem-solving method is often used in tech support teams through troubleshooting.

The 5 whys problem-solving method helps get to the root cause of an issue. You start by asking once, “Why did this issue happen?” After answering the first why, ask again, “Why did that happen?” You'll do this five times until you can attribute the problem to a root cause. 

This technique can help you dig in and find the human error that caused something to go wrong. More importantly, it also helps you and your team develop an actionable plan so that you can prevent the issue from happening again.

Here’s an example:

Problem: The email marketing campaign was accidentally sent to the wrong audience.

“Why did this happen?” Because the audience name was not updated in our email platform.

“Why were the audience names not changed?” Because the audience segment was not renamed after editing. 

“Why was the audience segment not renamed?” Because everybody has an individual way of creating an audience segment.

“Why does everybody have an individual way of creating an audience segment?” Because there is no standardized process for creating audience segments. 

“Why is there no standardized process for creating audience segments?” Because the team hasn't decided on a way to standardize the process as the team introduced new members. 

In this example, we can see a few areas that could be optimized to prevent this mistake from happening again. When working through these questions, make sure that everyone who was involved in the situation is present so that you can co-create next steps to avoid the same problem. 

A SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis can help you highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a specific solution. SWOT stands for:

Strength: Why is this specific solution a good fit for this problem? 

Weaknesses: What are the weak points of this solution? Is there anything that you can do to strengthen those weaknesses?

Opportunities: What other benefits could arise from implementing this solution?

Threats: Is there anything about this decision that can detrimentally impact your team?

As you identify specific solutions, you can highlight the different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each solution. 

This particular problem-solving strategy is good to use when you're narrowing down the answers and need to compare and contrast the differences between different solutions. 

Even more successful problem solving

After you’ve worked through a tough problem, don't forget to celebrate how far you've come. Not only is this important for your team of problem solvers to see their work in action, but this can also help you become a more efficient, effective , and flexible team. The more problems you tackle together, the more you’ll achieve. 

Looking for a tool to help solve problems on your team? Track project implementation with a work management tool like Asana .

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How to Make Great Decisions, Quickly

  • Martin G. Moore

list problem solving or decision making steps you follow

It’s a skill that will set you apart.

As a new leader, learning to make good decisions without hesitation and procrastination is a capability that can set you apart from your peers. While others vacillate on tricky choices, your team could be hitting deadlines and producing the type of results that deliver true value. That’s something that will get you — and them — noticed. Here are a few of a great decision:

  • Great decisions are shaped by consideration of many different viewpoints. This doesn’t mean you should seek out everyone’s opinion. The right people with the relevant expertise need to clearly articulate their views to help you broaden your perspective and make the best choice.
  • Great decisions are made as close as possible to the action. Remember that the most powerful people at your company are rarely on the ground doing the hands-on work. Seek input and guidance from team members who are closest to the action.
  • Great decisions address the root cause, not just the symptoms. Although you may need to urgently address the symptoms, once this is done you should always develop a plan to fix the root cause, or else the problem is likely to repeat itself.
  • Great decisions balance short-term and long-term value. Finding the right balance between short-term and long-term risks and considerations is key to unlocking true value.
  • Great decisions are timely. If you consider all of the elements listed above, then it’s simply a matter of addressing each one with a heightened sense of urgency.

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

Like many young leaders, early in my career, I thought a great decision was one that attracted widespread approval. When my colleagues smiled and nodded their collective heads, it reinforced (in my mind, at least) that I was an excellent decision maker.

list problem solving or decision making steps you follow

  • MM Martin G. Moore is the founder of Your CEO Mentor and author of No Bullsh!t Leadership and host of the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. His purpose is to improve the quality of leaders globally through practical, real world leadership content. For more information, please visit,

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9 Key Steps for an Effective Decision Making Process [+Examples]

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

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Bad decisions are a significant reason why some of the biggest brands in the world went bankrupt. Businesses feel the impacts of such decisions as early as days after making them. Streaming companies’ subscribers have dropped drastically because of some changes they made to their content. 

Losing years of hard work instantly over something avoidable is difficult for anyone. Effective decision making is a skill that can be mastered by following proven decision-making models and tools, but what exactly are they, and how can you implement them?

SweetPrcoess simplifies the decision making process by facilitating communication and collaboration among teams with standardized workflow management tools. Sign up for a 14-day free trial without a credit card. 

Table of Contents

What Does the Decision Making Process Mean?

9 Key Steps For an Effective Decision Making Process

How to Build a Solid Decision-Making Process in Your Company Using SweetProcess

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The decision making process simply means a systematic guideline for choosing an alternative between two or more options. It’s a part of everyday life that transcends into business. The success or failure of any business venture results from the strategic decisions taken about it. This places a great responsibility on decision makers to tread with caution. 

Losses eventually lead to business failure. When an organization’s resources are drained to the bottom, there’s nothing left to sustain it. With the business environment ever-changing, one could argue that some losses are due to market volatility. Creating room for unforeseen circumstances is part of the decision-making process and allows you to navigate unfavorable outcomes. 

Business executives and leaders face the daunting task of decision-making with limited resources. This pressure could lead to decision-making fatigue, a condition in which leaders are too exhausted to make the right decisions. The decision-making process streamlines the selection of reasonable options and identifies the most suitable alternative to prevent decision fatigue. 

9 Key Steps For an Effective Decision Making Process 

One of the mistakes organizations make is waiting until a problem arises before developing a solution for resolving it. Such a reactive approach addresses problems on a surface level, neglecting its root causes. Adopting a proactive strategy in decision making enhances operations management by positioning businesses to operate from a vantage point. Here are some steps for creating an effective decision making process. 

Identify the Decision You Want to Make

Identifying the decision is pinpointing the problem the decision will solve. Failing to identify the problem may lead to distractions and mismanagement of resources. Ambiguous issues are costly to manage. Streamline the problem to the smallest possible units for clarity and use that to identify the decision to take. 

Structure Your Team

Single-handedly making a business decision is a recipe for disaster, as there’s only so much you know and can see from your position. You are better off building a diverse team of people who will bring different inputs to the table. Outline the dynamics of the decision and select people experienced in it. Create room for newbies who can bring fresh perspectives that haven’t been explored, as those ideas could yield better results. 

Establish Your Approach

A lack of approach in the decision making process breeds conflict with opinions clashing. Organize the process by assigning roles and delegating responsibilities to team members. Outline specific areas you want people to focus on and outline the flow of information. This prevents employees from turning the decision-making process into a competition about whose opinion is adopted.

Gather Relevant Information From Internal and External Sources

Good business decisions are based on evidence. Your organization may have encountered such a situation or something similar in the past; how was it handled? If the result is good, consider implementing the same strategy, considering any differences. Seek a completely different approach if the previous outcome wasn’t good. 

Consult external sources for information relating to a decision at hand. Resources such as market research, surveys, and case studies are very helpful. If you aren’t satisfied with your findings, engage consultants with expertise in that field for their professional input.

Promote Discussion and Debate

The decision-making process is flawed when there’s a consensus among team members too early. The goal is to find the best decision, not the most popular one. Create an environment for employees to air their views freely, even when those views aren’t popular. Having at least one person play the devil’s advocate is best. Great ideas will emerge from debating their views. 

Determine Potential Solutions and Weigh the Evidence 

Aim to have more than one decision option on the table and evaluate each one with evidence on the ground. Prevent sentiments by adopting standard frameworks such as SWOT analysis for the evaluation. Outlining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each possible solution will reveal the best ones. 

Build Closure and Alignment

Team members can disagree while communicating their different points of view, but they must agree in the end for collective success. People will directly or indirectly push back on decisions they don’t like. Enlighten your team on the importance of being on the same page and supporting the final decision. If they were part of the decision-making processes, it shouldn’t be difficult to make them see why the decision was the best among other alternatives. Reiterate the importance of putting the interest of the business above personal interests.

Implement Your Decision

There’s no guarantee that a decision will be successful until it proves itself. It takes the collective efforts of the entire team to actualize desired outcomes from chosen alternatives. This phase of the decision making process is action based. What do you need to do, and who is the best person for the job? This is an opportunity to promote team spirit by delegating activities to people based on their strengths, even if they weren’t in support of the decision initially. Create an implementation plan for the entire team to work with and hold team members accountable for their responsibilities.

Review Your Decision and Its Impact

A great way to know if you and your team made the right decision is to review your performance. The results of every business decision become visible over time. Establish a substantial time for review and critically evaluate the outcomes. 

A focal point of the review is determining whether the decision solved the problem it was intended for. Focus on the problem being completely or significantly resolved, not partially. The decision failed if the problem still exists. Revisit the drawing board.

Team members are responsible for making decisions in the tasks they execute at work daily. The outcome of their decisions depends on how knowledgeable they are about said tasks. Organizations can increase employee efficiency by documenting standard operating procedures for tasks so they don’t need to make decisions for executing their duties regularly. To actualize such a proactive strategy, you need to leverage productivity tools like SweetProcess. 

SweetProcess is a workflow management software for documenting business processes, procedures, and policies for higher efficiency. It facilitates collaboration in the decision making process and ensures that chosen alternatives are successfully executed. 

Here are some of the core features of SweetProcess.

  • Task management : Manage tasks from scratch to completion.
  • Process maps: Create visual diagrams of processes to enhance decision making.
  • Documentation: Document business processes , procedures, and policies seamlessly with new and existing templates. 
  • Automatic content creation: Create content automatically with artificial intelligence. 
  • Training: Train new and existing employees rapidly. 
  • Knowledge base : Build public and private knowledge bases accessible to teams remotely.
  • Version history: Create and manage multiple versions of documents. 
  • Integration: Integrate more than 1,000 apps for increased productivity. 
  • Collaboration: Collaborate with team members in real time. 
  • Data reporting: Track work progress from reporting data in the dashboard. 

How to Create Procedures in SweetProcess Manually

Click on “Procedures” and “Create Procedure.” 

Enter your procedure title and click on “Continue.”

Click on the pencil icon beside the title.

Enter the procedure details in the content editor and click on “Finished Editing.” 

How to Document a Procedure in SweetProcess Automatically With SweetAI 

Enter the procedure title and click on “Write with SweetAI.”

Wait while the system generates the content. It only takes a few seconds.

Click the pencil icon to edit the content.

Click on “Approve” to publish the document.

How to Create Processes in SweetProcess

Click on “Processes” and “Create Process.”

Enter the process title and click on “Continue.”

Click on “Add Step.”

Click on “Procedure.”

Select the first task or procedure from the menu.

Click on “Add Step” and “Procedure” to add the next step in the process.

All the steps you added will show on the right. Click on “Approve” to publish the process. 

How to Create Business Policies in SweetProcess Manually

Click on “More.”

Select “Policies.”

 Click on “Create Policy.”

Write the title of your policy and click on “Continue.”

Click on the pencil icon to develop your policy.

Enter the details of your policy and click “Save changes.” 

How to Create Business Policies Automatically in SweetProcess With SweetAI

Select “Policies” and click on “Create Policy.”

Enter the title of the policy and click on “Write with SweetAI.” The system will generate the policy in seconds. 

SweetProcess is popular among businesses for streamlining operations and clarifying the decision-making process. Emma Mills, owner and founder of MiPa, a virtual assistant agency, understands that skilled employees are in a better position to make good decisions. She uses SweetProcess to train team members and confirm that they understand the training. “We onboard staff and team members quite regularly. The signing off, somebody actually signing their name to say, ‘Yeah, I’ve read this process. I understand and approve it…. We can see that they’ve fully understood and they’ve signed off that they’ve gone through these training modules,” Emma says.

Chris Dunning, founder and CEO at TechQuarters, a cloud solutions IT company, found that problems arise in business due to inadequate information. He uses SweetProcess to document his organization’s processes so he and his team will have the right information to execute tasks and make better decisions. 

“What you find is that something will go wrong, and we look back then and one of the teams will say, could we add this to SweetProcess? Because if this had been done, I wouldn’t have had this problem further down the line, and each individual would look at it and go, ‘Oh yeah, great.’ And the next time around, problem solved, because we do this extra step in the process,” Chris explains. 

SweetProcess is suitable for all kinds of industries, and it’s flexible to customize to your unique needs. Sign up for a 14-day free trial without a credit card to begin your business transformation journey. 

A decision-making model offers guidelines for choosing the best alternative among several options. It visualizes the decision making processes for stakeholders’ understanding, facilitates meaningful contributions, and provides metrics for measuring the impact of your decisions. There are several decision-making models to work with.

Rational Model

The rational decision making model thrives on logic. It requires listing the options at your disposal and highlighting their pros and cons. The goal is to identify the one with the lowest risk and highest benefits after comparing them. This decision-making model is time-consuming and unsuitable for urgent situations. Here are the steps involved:

  • Identify the problem.
  • Outline and measure the decision criteria.
  • Gather and arrange related information.
  • Analyze the situation. 
  • Create a list of options.
  • Examine your options and assign a measurement value to them.
  • Pick the best options.
  • Implement the decision.
  • Review the decision.

Bounded Rationality Model

Bounded rationality is a decision-making model for making a choice based on the information at your disposal. If you operate in a fast-moving industry, you need to make great decisions quickly lest you lose opportunities. The bounded rationality model guides you in moving swiftly with the information at hand. Your decision may not be perfect in the long run, but it’s the best at the moment. 

Intuitive Model

The intuitive decision making model promotes following your instincts or intuition in making a decision. This model is best applied in business when you have ample experience or expertise in the subject. Your intuition will be a product of your professional judgment rather than sentiments. 

Recognition Primed Model

The recognition-primed decision-making model is similar to the rational model as it relies on expertise. However, it involves recognizing familiar patterns in a situation and developing solutions from a vantage point. Each potential solution is visualized from start to finish to have a clear picture of possible outcomes before selecting the best alternative. 

Decision Tree Model

A decision tree is a tree-like model depicting an action, its cost implications, possible outcomes, and consequences. It’s drawn as a flowchart and highlights the attributes of the decision in motion. Branches of the tree are the decision-making alternatives and their leaves are the outcomes of each alternative the decision maker takes. 

Political Model

The political decision-making model is a decentralized system that encourages stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process in a safe space. Team members can contribute and deliberate over ideas even when those ideas don’t align with existing rules and policies. Some people may be reluctant to share their opinions with a larger audience, especially when those opinions aren’t popular, so the model allows the creation of subgroups in the organization so people can express themselves to familiar faces. The decision of each subgroup is presented by their leader to the larger organization.

Incremental Model

The incremental decision-making model is a step-by-step approach to managing situations, eradicating the burden of making a massive decision at once. The focus is on the next logical action to take without necessarily considering the big picture which may be difficult to see. Focusing on boosting employee productivity per time, it’s handy when addressing complex situations with a lot of information to evaluate. 

The outcomes of business decisions are too significant to be based on chance. Showcasing good judgment continuously enhances an organization’s reputation and builds trust among customers. Decision-making tools enable businesses to approach decisions systematically for repetitive success. The top business decision-making tools include the following:

Decision Matrix

A decision matrix is a table with various columns containing the alternatives in a decision and their various attributes. It enables you to view all aspects of the alternatives and compare them side-by-side to determine the best choice. There’s room to outline essential criteria for the decision, and then weigh the alternatives’ attributes against the criteria to see which one meets your needs the most. 

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis – an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, is a tool for evaluating the different components of an idea for implementation. It helps in strategic planning by identifying the good and bad aspects of a decision ahead of time. An advantage of a SWOT analysis is the consideration of the internal and external factors of the decision. Factoring the results of your analysis into your plan gives your business a competitive edge. 

Pros and Cons List

A pros and cons list contains the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives in a business decision. Every decision has its negatives, but it becomes problematic if they outweigh the positives. Creating a pros and cons list helps compare both aspects so you can lean on alternatives with more pros. This tool is easier to adopt when dealing with a few decision alternatives.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis compares the benefits of a decision with its associated costs. It saves businesses the trouble of making decisions without considering underlying expenses. Alternative A may have bigger benefits than alternative B, but when you compare both benefits against their associated costs, alternative B may be better. It offers a holistic approach to decision-making, outlining the ripple effects of all alternatives. 

Pareto Analysis

Pareto analysis is a business decision making tool for prioritizing the most important aspects of a decision and saving costs. Built on an 80/20 rule, it states that you can achieve 80% of your desired results by doing 20% of its associated work. Similarly, you can solve 80% of a problem by identifying 20% of its causes. Assign a score to each attribute of an alternative and then focus on the ones with the highest scores because they are most significant to the decision. 

Six Thinking Hats

Six thinking hats are a decision-making tool for examining problems from multiple perspectives. The hats which are in different colors represent how to approach a problem based on your position. 

  • Blue Hat : The blue hat is the team leader or manager. They coordinate the decision-making process, and it’s their responsibility to understand the requirements of the decision and communicate them to other team members.
  • White Hat : The white hat is data-driven and plays a significant role at the beginning of a decision-making session to ensure that valuable information has been gathered and vetted to be factual as incorrect information will produce invalid results. It’s also essential at the end of a decision-making session to evaluate information contributed by other hats. 
  • Green Hat : The green hat opens the floor for innovative thinking and contributions. It thinks outside the box and introduces ideas that others may overlook. Other hats may not be comfortable with the green hat’s perspective, but they must be open to it. 
  • Yellow Hat : The yellow hat encourages the ideas of the green hat by highlighting their pros. The bearer plays a significant role in ensuring that other team members don’t shut down any good ideas generated by the green hat without proper consideration.
  • Red Hat : The red hat identifies the cons of any ideas the team discusses. They play the devil’s advocate by highlighting the reasons why certain opinions may not fly. Their point of view isn’t based on facts but on instincts. 
  • Black Hat : The black hat is similar to the red hat; the difference is that they argue with facts. They examine each idea critically, focusing on their loopholes, and then present objective reasons why the loopholes exist. 

The decision-making process in business relies on evidence to prioritize an alternative over others. It’s becoming more complex due to rising external market factors outside organizations’ jurisdictions. Neglecting any significant attribute impacts the validity of your decision and ultimately leads to failure. 

Businesses must incorporate these factors to enhance the impact of their decisions.

Data Collection and Analytics

Collecting and analyzing data for making business decisions eradicates assumptions—people assume things when there’s no relevant information on the ground. The data collected must be analyzed to derive meaning and direction. A data-driven business decision minimizes failure rate to the barest minimum due to insights from avoiding unfavorable conditions.


A single business decision has a ripple effect across the entire organization. Executives need to consider how an alternative impacts the various areas of their organization. This entails liaising with various parties at different levels in the decision-making process to arrive at an alternative that suits all bodies. 


Situations requiring business decisions are different. Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach causes incompatibility. An alternative must be contextualized to suit the problem it’s meant to resolve; otherwise, it may have surface-level results. 


Decision-making in business is continuous. Organizations need to be proactive in projecting favorable outcomes by identifying models and tools they can implement when situations arise. This absorbs the confusion from being taken unawares, allowing them to act swiftly. 

The consumer decision-making process explains how an average consumer evaluates a purchasing decision. Understanding this process helps businesses to position themselves well for positive outcomes as consumers engage with them through the buying process. 

The five stages in the consumer decision-making process are:

Recognizing a Need 

Need recognition is a point where a consumer becomes aware that they need a product or service. This awareness usually stems from a lack or deficiency in an area of their life. The consumer is convinced that they truly need an item from the perceived value it will offer them. Need recognition is an internal stimulus for the consumer, but as a business, you can leverage this stage by putting your product or service out there so it’s visible to the consumer once they become aware of the need. 

Searching for Information

Having acknowledged that they need a product or service, the consumer seeks more information about it. They start by recalling experiences they may have had with the item and ask themselves if those experiences were good or bad. If they have no previous encounter with the item or aren’t satisfied with it, they search for information about it online. Customer reviews, blog posts, and contributions on online forums are some of the sources of their information. 

Businesses can benefit from the information search in the consumer decision making process by creating brand awareness. This includes creating and publishing content about their products and services on their websites and other targeted platforms. Create avenues for customers to write reviews about your products and showcase the positive ones in your content. 

Evaluating Alternatives 

A consumer in this stage of the decision-making process knows what they want in a product. To get the best product on the market, they evaluate multiple alternatives, comparing each against established criteria. Factors the consumer considers in their evaluation include price, benefits, quality, and more. 

The information organizations have out there about their products or services is what the consumer uses in evaluating their alternatives. Ensure that you provide adequate information about your offering in your content to convince a prospective buyer that you are the best alternative. Create a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page on your website addressing possible questions customers may ask. 

Making a Purchase Decision 

Having examined all the alternatives based on the information available to them, the consumer makes a buying decision. An average consumer seeks the best alternative—it’s your responsibility to make your product or service appear its best to them. If you are intentional about gaining their favor from the first stage of the consumer buying decision-making process, your chances of success are higher in this stage. 

Post-Purchase Evaluation 

The last phase of a consumer decision-making process could facilitate future patronage and it could also be the last time they patronize your business. A customer who is satisfied with your product or service may leave positive reviews about it online which would encourage others to patronize you; they may even patronize you again. The reverse is the case if the customer is unsatisfied with your offering—they may leave negative reviews and never patronize you again.

As a business, you must ensure that claims about your products or services are true. This requires putting in the work to create products and services that offer significant value to users. A handful of reviews from unsatisfied customers could have damaging impacts on your brand’s reputation. 

Healthcare providers are mandated to make decisions regarding patients’ well-being every day, and these decisions have either good or bad consequences. Most healthcare decisions are either directly or indirectly about life and death. Medical practitioners must approach such decisions with caution even when they have limited time. 

The dynamics of healthcare decision-making vary in various locations, but practitioners share a common goal of giving patients the best outcomes at the time and advancing the healthcare system.

Critical evaluation is non-negotiable in healthcare decision-making because the slightest errors could lead to the immediate death of patients and the death of more people in the long run due to poor healthcare policies. 

The decision tree is common among medical practitioners, especially in urgent matters of life and death. They must decide on their next steps in a limited time while ensuring they make the best decision. The branches of the tree represent the alternatives and the leaves represent the outcomes of each alternative. They develop the leaves of the branches to see the benefits, limitations, and results of all alternatives on the tree. They compare all factors to identify an alternative that has the best outcome with the least risks. 

Decision-making in project management seeks the most efficient means for achieving maximum results. Some projects are more complex than others, making it ineffective to approach all projects in the same manner. Establishing standards for measuring time, budget, and other factors enables you to give each project the attention it deserves in the decision-making process.

In addition to the decision-making models already discussed, project managers can adopt other techniques like brainstorming and elimination by aspects. 

Brainstorming allows team members to generate ideas and deliberate on them collectively. Everyone understands the goal at hand and tasks themselves to develop a means to achieve it. Brainstorming encourages innovative thinking. All ideas are welcome—it’s the responsibility of the group to make meaning out of them. By the end of the brainstorming session, the team will have a consensus on the best alternative for the decision.

Elimination by aspects is a process of outlining all the alternatives in a decision and evaluating them based on established criteria. You weigh the options on the criteria scale and remove the lightest ones until you arrive at the heaviest alternative. It’s a good decision making technique in project management for saving time and resources. 

Making too many decisions causes fatigue. Our brains try to protect us by erecting mental barriers called biases to prevent us from evaluating decisions thoroughly and prompt us to take the easiest routes to choosing an alternative. 

Decision-making biases can be good or bad, depending on the situation. One of the qualities of a good leader is being able to recognize how they impact the decision-making process. 

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is subconsciously leaning toward ideas and alternatives that align with your preconceived beliefs when making decisions. Your brain seeks and develops familiar information, neglecting information that counters what it already knows or feels comfortable with. This could make you ignore important factors in your decisions. 

Self-Serving Bias

Self-serving bias is the influence of personal interests in decision-making. People gravitate toward alternatives that boost their self-esteem or flatter them without even realizing it. The outcome of such a decision may not be entirely bad because they score some points for the decision makers, but it isn’t in the best interest of the organization. 

Halo Effect

The halo effect is about building an impression from a single aspect of a subject and viewing all other aspects of it based on that impression. It’s the presumption that the whole of a thing is good because an aspect of it is good, and vice versa. This bias emphasizes the first impression people have about an alternative. It can be misleading in decision-making because other aspects of the chosen alternative may be bad. 

Herd Mentality

The herd mentality is a decision-making bias where people follow the crowd without evaluating a situation to see if it’s good for them. There’s the assumption that the most popular alternative is the best just because the majority of people say so. This bias is common in business environments where people aren’t encouraged to air their personal views. Business leaders must kick against having a consensus too early in the decision-making process and be intentional about giving everyone a chance to share their opinions. One way to resist the halo effect is to remember that people naturally take the easiest route instead of putting in the work to get better results. 

Sunk-Cost Fallacy

The sunk-cost fallacy bias is the resilience to continue with an endeavor because of the resources invested into it, even when the current costs are more than the benefits. For instance, you started a project with what seemed like a great plan and invested time, money, and other resources in it. A considerable time has passed, and you aren’t seeing any significant results. Rising developments show that your plan isn’t so effective, but you insist on continuing with it because you don’t want to lose your investments. 

Business climate changes, making great ideas inefficient. You need to be in tune with reality to recognize when to make a U-turn despite your investments, otherwise you will incur more losses.

Information is the core of every decision-making process. A chosen alternative is a result of the decision-maker’s judgment based on their evaluation of the information at hand. SweetProcess enables you to document your business processes and make them available to team members. Its reporting and business analytics feature informs you about how team members engage with ongoing projects. This is essential in building and managing your decision making team as you can gauge team members’ knowledge levels. Limit your chances of going bankrupt by signing up for a 14-day free trial . No credit is required; you have no obligation if you choose to walk away at the end of the trial.

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How to improve your problem solving skills and build effective problem solving strategies

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Effective problem solving is all about using the right process and following a plan tailored to the issue at hand. Recognizing your team or organization has an issue isn’t enough to come up with effective problem solving strategies. 

To truly understand a problem and develop appropriate solutions, you will want to follow a solid process, follow the necessary problem solving steps, and bring all of your problem solving skills to the table.   We’ll forst look at what problem solving strategies you can employ with your team when looking for a way to approach the process. We’ll then discuss the problem solving skills you need to be more effective at solving problems, complete with an activity from the SessionLab library you can use to develop that skill in your team.

Let’s get to it! 

Problem solving strategies

What skills do i need to be an effective problem solver, how can i improve my problem solving skills.

Problem solving strategies are methods of approaching and facilitating the process of problem-solving with a set of techniques , actions, and processes. Different strategies are more effective if you are trying to solve broad problems such as achieving higher growth versus more focused problems like, how do we improve our customer onboarding process?

Broadly, the problem solving steps outlined above should be included in any problem solving strategy though choosing where to focus your time and what approaches should be taken is where they begin to differ. You might find that some strategies ask for the problem identification to be done prior to the session or that everything happens in the course of a one day workshop.

The key similarity is that all good problem solving strategies are structured and designed. Four hours of open discussion is never going to be as productive as a four-hour workshop designed to lead a group through a problem solving process.

Good problem solving strategies are tailored to the team, organization and problem you will be attempting to solve. Here are some example problem solving strategies you can learn from or use to get started.

Use a workshop to lead a team through a group process

Often, the first step to solving problems or organizational challenges is bringing a group together effectively. Most teams have the tools, knowledge, and expertise necessary to solve their challenges – they just need some guidance in how to use leverage those skills and a structure and format that allows people to focus their energies.

Facilitated workshops are one of the most effective ways of solving problems of any scale. By designing and planning your workshop carefully, you can tailor the approach and scope to best fit the needs of your team and organization. 

Problem solving workshop

  • Creating a bespoke, tailored process
  • Tackling problems of any size
  • Building in-house workshop ability and encouraging their use

Workshops are an effective strategy for solving problems. By using tried and test facilitation techniques and methods, you can design and deliver a workshop that is perfectly suited to the unique variables of your organization. You may only have the capacity for a half-day workshop and so need a problem solving process to match. 

By using our session planner tool and importing methods from our library of 700+ facilitation techniques, you can create the right problem solving workshop for your team. It might be that you want to encourage creative thinking or look at things from a new angle to unblock your groups approach to problem solving. By tailoring your workshop design to the purpose, you can help ensure great results.

One of the main benefits of a workshop is the structured approach to problem solving. Not only does this mean that the workshop itself will be successful, but many of the methods and techniques will help your team improve their working processes outside of the workshop. 

We believe that workshops are one of the best tools you can use to improve the way your team works together. Start with a problem solving workshop and then see what team building, culture or design workshops can do for your organization!

Run a design sprint

Great for: 

  • aligning large, multi-discipline teams
  • quickly designing and testing solutions
  • tackling large, complex organizational challenges and breaking them down into smaller tasks

By using design thinking principles and methods, a design sprint is a great way of identifying, prioritizing and prototyping solutions to long term challenges that can help solve major organizational problems with quick action and measurable results.

Some familiarity with design thinking is useful, though not integral, and this strategy can really help a team align if there is some discussion around which problems should be approached first. 

The stage-based structure of the design sprint is also very useful for teams new to design thinking.  The inspiration phase, where you look to competitors that have solved your problem, and the rapid prototyping and testing phases are great for introducing new concepts that will benefit a team in all their future work. 

It can be common for teams to look inward for solutions and so looking to the market for solutions you can iterate on can be very productive. Instilling an agile prototyping and testing mindset can also be great when helping teams move forwards – generating and testing solutions quickly can help save time in the long run and is also pretty exciting!

Break problems down into smaller issues

Organizational challenges and problems are often complicated and large scale in nature. Sometimes, trying to resolve such an issue in one swoop is simply unachievable or overwhelming. Try breaking down such problems into smaller issues that you can work on step by step. You may not be able to solve the problem of churning customers off the bat, but you can work with your team to identify smaller effort but high impact elements and work on those first.

This problem solving strategy can help a team generate momentum, prioritize and get some easy wins. It’s also a great strategy to employ with teams who are just beginning to learn how to approach the problem solving process. If you want some insight into a way to employ this strategy, we recommend looking at our design sprint template below!

Use guiding frameworks or try new methodologies

Some problems are best solved by introducing a major shift in perspective or by using new methodologies that encourage your team to think differently.

Props and tools such as Methodkit , which uses a card-based toolkit for facilitation, or Lego Serious Play can be great ways to engage your team and find an inclusive, democratic problem solving strategy. Remember that play and creativity are great tools for achieving change and whatever the challenge, engaging your participants can be very effective where other strategies may have failed.

LEGO Serious Play

  • Improving core problem solving skills
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Encouraging creative solutions

LEGO Serious Play is a problem solving methodology designed to get participants thinking differently by using 3D models and kinesthetic learning styles. By physically building LEGO models based on questions and exercises, participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and create their own responses. 

Collaborate LEGO Serious Play exercises are also used to encourage communication and build problem solving skills in a group. By using this problem solving process, you can often help different kinds of learners and personality types contribute and unblock organizational problems with creative thinking. 

Problem solving strategies like LEGO Serious Play are super effective at helping a team solve more skills-based problems such as communication between teams or a lack of creative thinking. Some problems are not suited to LEGO Serious Play and require a different problem solving strategy.

Card Decks and Method Kits

  • New facilitators or non-facilitators 
  • Approaching difficult subjects with a simple, creative framework
  • Engaging those with varied learning styles

Card decks and method kids are great tools for those new to facilitation or for whom facilitation is not the primary role. Card decks such as the emotional culture deck can be used for complete workshops and in many cases, can be used right out of the box. Methodkit has a variety of kits designed for scenarios ranging from personal development through to personas and global challenges so you can find the right deck for your particular needs.

Having an easy to use framework that encourages creativity or a new approach can take some of the friction or planning difficulties out of the workshop process and energize a team in any setting. Simplicity is the key with these methods. By ensuring everyone on your team can get involved and engage with the process as quickly as possible can really contribute to the success of your problem solving strategy.

Source external advice

Looking to peers, experts and external facilitators can be a great way of approaching the problem solving process. Your team may not have the necessary expertise, insights of experience to tackle some issues, or you might simply benefit from a fresh perspective. Some problems may require bringing together an entire team, and coaching managers or team members individually might be the right approach. Remember that not all problems are best resolved in the same manner.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur, peer groups, coaches and mentors can also be invaluable at not only solving specific business problems, but in providing a support network for resolving future challenges. One great approach is to join a Mastermind Group and link up with like-minded individuals and all grow together. Remember that however you approach the sourcing of external advice, do so thoughtfully, respectfully and honestly. Reciprocate where you can and prepare to be surprised by just how kind and helpful your peers can be!

Mastermind Group

  • Solo entrepreneurs or small teams with low capacity
  • Peer learning and gaining outside expertise
  • Getting multiple external points of view quickly

Problem solving in large organizations with lots of skilled team members is one thing, but how about if you work for yourself or in a very small team without the capacity to get the most from a design sprint or LEGO Serious Play session? 

A mastermind group – sometimes known as a peer advisory board – is where a group of people come together to support one another in their own goals, challenges, and businesses. Each participant comes to the group with their own purpose and the other members of the group will help them create solutions, brainstorm ideas, and support one another. 

Mastermind groups are very effective in creating an energized, supportive atmosphere that can deliver meaningful results. Learning from peers from outside of your organization or industry can really help unlock new ways of thinking and drive growth. Access to the experience and skills of your peers can be invaluable in helping fill the gaps in your own ability, particularly in young companies.

A mastermind group is a great solution for solo entrepreneurs, small teams, or for organizations that feel that external expertise or fresh perspectives will be beneficial for them. It is worth noting that Mastermind groups are often only as good as the participants and what they can bring to the group. Participants need to be committed, engaged and understand how to work in this context. 

Coaching and mentoring

  • Focused learning and development
  • Filling skills gaps
  • Working on a range of challenges over time

Receiving advice from a business coach or building a mentor/mentee relationship can be an effective way of resolving certain challenges. The one-to-one format of most coaching and mentor relationships can really help solve the challenges those individuals are having and benefit the organization as a result.

A great mentor can be invaluable when it comes to spotting potential problems before they arise and coming to understand a mentee very well has a host of other business benefits. You might run an internal mentorship program to help develop your team’s problem solving skills and strategies or as part of a large learning and development program. External coaches can also be an important part of your problem solving strategy, filling skills gaps for your management team or helping with specific business issues. 

Now we’ve explored the problem solving process and the steps you will want to go through in order to have an effective session, let’s look at the skills you and your team need to be more effective problem solvers.

Problem solving skills are highly sought after, whatever industry or team you work in. Organizations are keen to employ people who are able to approach problems thoughtfully and find strong, realistic solutions. Whether you are a facilitator , a team leader or a developer, being an effective problem solver is a skill you’ll want to develop.

Problem solving skills form a whole suite of techniques and approaches that an individual uses to not only identify problems but to discuss them productively before then developing appropriate solutions.

Here are some of the most important problem solving skills everyone from executives to junior staff members should learn. We’ve also included an activity or exercise from the SessionLab library that can help you and your team develop that skill. 

If you’re running a workshop or training session to try and improve problem solving skills in your team, try using these methods to supercharge your process!

Problem solving skills checklist

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important skills anyone who works with people can possess. In short, active listening is a technique used to not only better understand what is being said by an individual, but also to be more aware of the underlying message the speaker is trying to convey. When it comes to problem solving, active listening is integral for understanding the position of every participant and to clarify the challenges, ideas and solutions they bring to the table.

Some active listening skills include:

  • Paying complete attention to the speaker.
  • Removing distractions.
  • Avoid interruption.
  • Taking the time to fully understand before preparing a rebuttal.
  • Responding respectfully and appropriately.
  • Demonstrate attentiveness and positivity with an open posture, making eye contact with the speaker, smiling and nodding if appropriate. Show that you are listening and encourage them to continue.
  • Be aware of and respectful of feelings. Judge the situation and respond appropriately. You can disagree without being disrespectful.   
  • Observe body language. 
  • Paraphrase what was said in your own words, either mentally or verbally.
  • Remain neutral. 
  • Reflect and take a moment before responding.
  • Ask deeper questions based on what is said and clarify points where necessary.   
Active Listening   #hyperisland   #skills   #active listening   #remote-friendly   This activity supports participants to reflect on a question and generate their own solutions using simple principles of active listening and peer coaching. It’s an excellent introduction to active listening but can also be used with groups that are already familiar with it. Participants work in groups of three and take turns being: “the subject”, the listener, and the observer.

Analytical skills

All problem solving models require strong analytical skills, particularly during the beginning of the process and when it comes to analyzing how solutions have performed.

Analytical skills are primarily focused on performing an effective analysis by collecting, studying and parsing data related to a problem or opportunity. 

It often involves spotting patterns, being able to see things from different perspectives and using observable facts and data to make suggestions or produce insight. 

Analytical skills are also important at every stage of the problem solving process and by having these skills, you can ensure that any ideas or solutions you create or backed up analytically and have been sufficiently thought out.

Nine Whys   #innovation   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   With breathtaking simplicity, you can rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work. You can quickly reveal when a compelling purpose is missing in a gathering and avoid moving forward without clarity. When a group discovers an unambiguous shared purpose, more freedom and more responsibility are unleashed. You have laid the foundation for spreading and scaling innovations with fidelity.


Trying to solve problems on your own is difficult. Being able to collaborate effectively, with a free exchange of ideas, to delegate and be a productive member of a team is hugely important to all problem solving strategies.

Remember that whatever your role, collaboration is integral, and in a problem solving process, you are all working together to find the best solution for everyone. 

Marshmallow challenge with debriefing   #teamwork   #team   #leadership   #collaboration   In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top. The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world. Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.


Being an effective communicator means being empathetic, clear and succinct, asking the right questions, and demonstrating active listening skills throughout any discussion or meeting. 

In a problem solving setting, you need to communicate well in order to progress through each stage of the process effectively. As a team leader, it may also fall to you to facilitate communication between parties who may not see eye to eye. Effective communication also means helping others to express themselves and be heard in a group.

Bus Trip   #feedback   #communication   #appreciation   #closing   #thiagi   #team   This is one of my favourite feedback games. I use Bus Trip at the end of a training session or a meeting, and I use it all the time. The game creates a massive amount of energy with lots of smiles, laughs, and sometimes even a teardrop or two.

Creative problem solving skills can be some of the best tools in your arsenal. Thinking creatively, being able to generate lots of ideas and come up with out of the box solutions is useful at every step of the process. 

The kinds of problems you will likely discuss in a problem solving workshop are often difficult to solve, and by approaching things in a fresh, creative manner, you can often create more innovative solutions.

Having practical creative skills is also a boon when it comes to problem solving. If you can help create quality design sketches and prototypes in record time, it can help bring a team to alignment more quickly or provide a base for further iteration.

The paper clip method   #sharing   #creativity   #warm up   #idea generation   #brainstorming   The power of brainstorming. A training for project leaders, creativity training, and to catalyse getting new solutions.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is one of the fundamental problem solving skills you’ll want to develop when working on developing solutions. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, rationalize and evaluate while being aware of personal bias, outlying factors and remaining open-minded.

Defining and analyzing problems without deploying critical thinking skills can mean you and your team go down the wrong path. Developing solutions to complex issues requires critical thinking too – ensuring your team considers all possibilities and rationally evaluating them. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Data analysis 

Though it shares lots of space with general analytical skills, data analysis skills are something you want to cultivate in their own right in order to be an effective problem solver.

Being good at data analysis doesn’t just mean being able to find insights from data, but also selecting the appropriate data for a given issue, interpreting it effectively and knowing how to model and present that data. Depending on the problem at hand, it might also include a working knowledge of specific data analysis tools and procedures. 

Having a solid grasp of data analysis techniques is useful if you’re leading a problem solving workshop but if you’re not an expert, don’t worry. Bring people into the group who has this skill set and help your team be more effective as a result.

Decision making

All problems need a solution and all solutions require that someone make the decision to implement them. Without strong decision making skills, teams can become bogged down in discussion and less effective as a result. 

Making decisions is a key part of the problem solving process. It’s important to remember that decision making is not restricted to the leadership team. Every staff member makes decisions every day and developing these skills ensures that your team is able to solve problems at any scale. Remember that making decisions does not mean leaping to the first solution but weighing up the options and coming to an informed, well thought out solution to any given problem that works for the whole team.

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow


Most complex organizational problems require multiple people to be involved in delivering the solution. Ensuring that the team and organization can depend on you to take the necessary actions and communicate where necessary is key to ensuring problems are solved effectively.

Being dependable also means working to deadlines and to brief. It is often a matter of creating trust in a team so that everyone can depend on one another to complete the agreed actions in the agreed time frame so that the team can move forward together. Being undependable can create problems of friction and can limit the effectiveness of your solutions so be sure to bear this in mind throughout a project. 

Team Purpose & Culture   #team   #hyperisland   #culture   #remote-friendly   This is an essential process designed to help teams define their purpose (why they exist) and their culture (how they work together to achieve that purpose). Defining these two things will help any team to be more focused and aligned. With support of tangible examples from other companies, the team members work as individuals and a group to codify the way they work together. The goal is a visual manifestation of both the purpose and culture that can be put up in the team’s work space.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important skill for any successful team member, whether communicating internally or with clients or users. In the problem solving process, emotional intelligence means being attuned to how people are feeling and thinking, communicating effectively and being self-aware of what you bring to a room. 

There are often differences of opinion when working through problem solving processes, and it can be easy to let things become impassioned or combative. Developing your emotional intelligence means being empathetic to your colleagues and managing your own emotions throughout the problem and solution process. Be kind, be thoughtful and put your points across care and attention. 

Being emotionally intelligent is a skill for life and by deploying it at work, you can not only work efficiently but empathetically. Check out the emotional culture workshop template for more!


As we’ve clarified in our facilitation skills post, facilitation is the art of leading people through processes towards agreed-upon objectives in a manner that encourages participation, ownership, and creativity by all those involved. While facilitation is a set of interrelated skills in itself, the broad definition of facilitation can be invaluable when it comes to problem solving. Leading a team through a problem solving process is made more effective if you improve and utilize facilitation skills – whether you’re a manager, team leader or external stakeholder.

The Six Thinking Hats   #creative thinking   #meeting facilitation   #problem solving   #issue resolution   #idea generation   #conflict resolution   The Six Thinking Hats are used by individuals and groups to separate out conflicting styles of thinking. They enable and encourage a group of people to think constructively together in exploring and implementing change, rather than using argument to fight over who is right and who is wrong.


Being flexible is a vital skill when it comes to problem solving. This does not mean immediately bowing to pressure or changing your opinion quickly: instead, being flexible is all about seeing things from new perspectives, receiving new information and factoring it into your thought process.

Flexibility is also important when it comes to rolling out solutions. It might be that other organizational projects have greater priority or require the same resources as your chosen solution. Being flexible means understanding needs and challenges across the team and being open to shifting or arranging your own schedule as necessary. Again, this does not mean immediately making way for other projects. It’s about articulating your own needs, understanding the needs of others and being able to come to a meaningful compromise.

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

Working in any group can lead to unconscious elements of groupthink or situations in which you may not wish to be entirely honest. Disagreeing with the opinions of the executive team or wishing to save the feelings of a coworker can be tricky to navigate, but being honest is absolutely vital when to comes to developing effective solutions and ensuring your voice is heard. 

Remember that being honest does not mean being brutally candid. You can deliver your honest feedback and opinions thoughtfully and without creating friction by using other skills such as emotional intelligence. 

Explore your Values   #hyperisland   #skills   #values   #remote-friendly   Your Values is an exercise for participants to explore what their most important values are. It’s done in an intuitive and rapid way to encourage participants to follow their intuitive feeling rather than over-thinking and finding the “correct” values. It is a good exercise to use to initiate reflection and dialogue around personal values.


The problem solving process is multi-faceted and requires different approaches at certain points of the process. Taking initiative to bring problems to the attention of the team, collect data or lead the solution creating process is always valuable. You might even roadtest your own small scale solutions or brainstorm before a session. Taking initiative is particularly effective if you have good deal of knowledge in that area or have ownership of a particular project and want to get things kickstarted.

That said, be sure to remember to honor the process and work in service of the team. If you are asked to own one part of the problem solving process and you don’t complete that task because your initiative leads you to work on something else, that’s not an effective method of solving business challenges.

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.


A particularly useful problem solving skill for product owners or managers is the ability to remain impartial throughout much of the process. In practice, this means treating all points of view and ideas brought forward in a meeting equally and ensuring that your own areas of interest or ownership are not favored over others. 

There may be a stage in the process where a decision maker has to weigh the cost and ROI of possible solutions against the company roadmap though even then, ensuring that the decision made is based on merit and not personal opinion. 

Empathy map   #frame insights   #create   #design   #issue analysis   An empathy map is a tool to help a design team to empathize with the people they are designing for. You can make an empathy map for a group of people or for a persona. To be used after doing personas when more insights are needed.

Being a good leader means getting a team aligned, energized and focused around a common goal. In the problem solving process, strong leadership helps ensure that the process is efficient, that any conflicts are resolved and that a team is managed in the direction of success.

It’s common for managers or executives to assume this role in a problem solving workshop, though it’s important that the leader maintains impartiality and does not bulldoze the group in a particular direction. Remember that good leadership means working in service of the purpose and team and ensuring the workshop is a safe space for employees of any level to contribute. Take a look at our leadership games and activities post for more exercises and methods to help improve leadership in your organization.

Leadership Pizza   #leadership   #team   #remote-friendly   This leadership development activity offers a self-assessment framework for people to first identify what skills, attributes and attitudes they find important for effective leadership, and then assess their own development and initiate goal setting.

In the context of problem solving, mediation is important in keeping a team engaged, happy and free of conflict. When leading or facilitating a problem solving workshop, you are likely to run into differences of opinion. Depending on the nature of the problem, certain issues may be brought up that are emotive in nature. 

Being an effective mediator means helping those people on either side of such a divide are heard, listen to one another and encouraged to find common ground and a resolution. Mediating skills are useful for leaders and managers in many situations and the problem solving process is no different.

Conflict Responses   #hyperisland   #team   #issue resolution   A workshop for a team to reflect on past conflicts, and use them to generate guidelines for effective conflict handling. The workshop uses the Thomas-Killman model of conflict responses to frame a reflective discussion. Use it to open up a discussion around conflict with a team.


Solving organizational problems is much more effective when following a process or problem solving model. Planning skills are vital in order to structure, deliver and follow-through on a problem solving workshop and ensure your solutions are intelligently deployed.

Planning skills include the ability to organize tasks and a team, plan and design the process and take into account any potential challenges. Taking the time to plan carefully can save time and frustration later in the process and is valuable for ensuring a team is positioned for success.

3 Action Steps   #hyperisland   #action   #remote-friendly   This is a small-scale strategic planning session that helps groups and individuals to take action toward a desired change. It is often used at the end of a workshop or programme. The group discusses and agrees on a vision, then creates some action steps that will lead them towards that vision. The scope of the challenge is also defined, through discussion of the helpful and harmful factors influencing the group.


As organisations grow, the scale and variation of problems they face multiplies. Your team or is likely to face numerous challenges in different areas and so having the skills to analyze and prioritize becomes very important, particularly for those in leadership roles.

A thorough problem solving process is likely to deliver multiple solutions and you may have several different problems you wish to solve simultaneously. Prioritization is the ability to measure the importance, value, and effectiveness of those possible solutions and choose which to enact and in what order. The process of prioritization is integral in ensuring the biggest challenges are addressed with the most impactful solutions.

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

Project management

Some problem solving skills are utilized in a workshop or ideation phases, while others come in useful when it comes to decision making. Overseeing an entire problem solving process and ensuring its success requires strong project management skills. 

While project management incorporates many of the other skills listed here, it is important to note the distinction of considering all of the factors of a project and managing them successfully. Being able to negotiate with stakeholders, manage tasks, time and people, consider costs and ROI, and tie everything together is massively helpful when going through the problem solving process. 

Record keeping

Working out meaningful solutions to organizational challenges is only one part of the process.  Thoughtfully documenting and keeping records of each problem solving step for future consultation is important in ensuring efficiency and meaningful change. 

For example, some problems may be lower priority than others but can be revisited in the future. If the team has ideated on solutions and found some are not up to the task, record those so you can rule them out and avoiding repeating work. Keeping records of the process also helps you improve and refine your problem solving model next time around!

Personal Kanban   #gamestorming   #action   #agile   #project planning   Personal Kanban is a tool for organizing your work to be more efficient and productive. It is based on agile methods and principles.

Research skills

Conducting research to support both the identification of problems and the development of appropriate solutions is important for an effective process. Knowing where to go to collect research, how to conduct research efficiently, and identifying pieces of research are relevant are all things a good researcher can do well. 

In larger groups, not everyone has to demonstrate this ability in order for a problem solving workshop to be effective. That said, having people with research skills involved in the process, particularly if they have existing area knowledge, can help ensure the solutions that are developed with data that supports their intention. Remember that being able to deliver the results of research efficiently and in a way the team can easily understand is also important. The best data in the world is only as effective as how it is delivered and interpreted.

Customer experience map   #ideation   #concepts   #research   #design   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   Customer experience mapping is a method of documenting and visualizing the experience a customer has as they use the product or service. It also maps out their responses to their experiences. To be used when there is a solution (even in a conceptual stage) that can be analyzed.

Risk management

Managing risk is an often overlooked part of the problem solving process. Solutions are often developed with the intention of reducing exposure to risk or solving issues that create risk but sometimes, great solutions are more experimental in nature and as such, deploying them needs to be carefully considered. 

Managing risk means acknowledging that there may be risks associated with more out of the box solutions or trying new things, but that this must be measured against the possible benefits and other organizational factors. 

Be informed, get the right data and stakeholders in the room and you can appropriately factor risk into your decision making process. 

Decisions, Decisions…   #communication   #decision making   #thiagi   #action   #issue analysis   When it comes to decision-making, why are some of us more prone to take risks while others are risk-averse? One explanation might be the way the decision and options were presented.  This exercise, based on Kahneman and Tversky’s classic study , illustrates how the framing effect influences our judgement and our ability to make decisions . The participants are divided into two groups. Both groups are presented with the same problem and two alternative programs for solving them. The two programs both have the same consequences but are presented differently. The debriefing discussion examines how the framing of the program impacted the participant’s decision.


No single person is as good at problem solving as a team. Building an effective team and helping them come together around a common purpose is one of the most important problem solving skills, doubly so for leaders. By bringing a team together and helping them work efficiently, you pave the way for team ownership of a problem and the development of effective solutions. 

In a problem solving workshop, it can be tempting to jump right into the deep end, though taking the time to break the ice, energize the team and align them with a game or exercise will pay off over the course of the day.

Remember that you will likely go through the problem solving process multiple times over an organization’s lifespan and building a strong team culture will make future problem solving more effective. It’s also great to work with people you know, trust and have fun with. Working on team building in and out of the problem solving process is a hallmark of successful teams that can work together to solve business problems.

9 Dimensions Team Building Activity   #ice breaker   #teambuilding   #team   #remote-friendly   9 Dimensions is a powerful activity designed to build relationships and trust among team members. There are 2 variations of this icebreaker. The first version is for teams who want to get to know each other better. The second version is for teams who want to explore how they are working together as a team.

Time management 

The problem solving process is designed to lead a team from identifying a problem through to delivering a solution and evaluating its effectiveness. Without effective time management skills or timeboxing of tasks, it can be easy for a team to get bogged down or be inefficient.

By using a problem solving model and carefully designing your workshop, you can allocate time efficiently and trust that the process will deliver the results you need in a good timeframe.

Time management also comes into play when it comes to rolling out solutions, particularly those that are experimental in nature. Having a clear timeframe for implementing and evaluating solutions is vital for ensuring their success and being able to pivot if necessary.

Improving your skills at problem solving is often a career-long pursuit though there are methods you can use to make the learning process more efficient and to supercharge your problem solving skillset.

Remember that the skills you need to be a great problem solver have a large overlap with those skills you need to be effective in any role. Investing time and effort to develop your active listening or critical thinking skills is valuable in any context. Here are 7 ways to improve your problem solving skills.

Share best practices

Remember that your team is an excellent source of skills, wisdom, and techniques and that you should all take advantage of one another where possible. Best practices that one team has for solving problems, conducting research or making decisions should be shared across the organization. If you have in-house staff that have done active listening training or are data analysis pros, have them lead a training session. 

Your team is one of your best resources. Create space and internal processes for the sharing of skills so that you can all grow together. 

Ask for help and attend training

Once you’ve figured out you have a skills gap, the next step is to take action to fill that skills gap. That might be by asking your superior for training or coaching, or liaising with team members with that skill set. You might even attend specialized training for certain skills – active listening or critical thinking, for example, are business-critical skills that are regularly offered as part of a training scheme.

Whatever method you choose, remember that taking action of some description is necessary for growth. Whether that means practicing, getting help, attending training or doing some background reading, taking active steps to improve your skills is the way to go.

Learn a process 

Problem solving can be complicated, particularly when attempting to solve large problems for the first time. Using a problem solving process helps give structure to your problem solving efforts and focus on creating outcomes, rather than worrying about the format. 

Tools such as the seven-step problem solving process above are effective because not only do they feature steps that will help a team solve problems, they also develop skills along the way. Each step asks for people to engage with the process using different skills and in doing so, helps the team learn and grow together. Group processes of varying complexity and purpose can also be found in the SessionLab library of facilitation techniques . Using a tried and tested process and really help ease the learning curve for both those leading such a process, as well as those undergoing the purpose.

Effective teams make decisions about where they should and shouldn’t expend additional effort. By using a problem solving process, you can focus on the things that matter, rather than stumbling towards a solution haphazardly. 

Create a feedback loop

Some skills gaps are more obvious than others. It’s possible that your perception of your active listening skills differs from those of your colleagues. 

It’s valuable to create a system where team members can provide feedback in an ordered and friendly manner so they can all learn from one another. Only by identifying areas of improvement can you then work to improve them. 

Remember that feedback systems require oversight and consideration so that they don’t turn into a place to complain about colleagues. Design the system intelligently so that you encourage the creation of learning opportunities, rather than encouraging people to list their pet peeves.

While practice might not make perfect, it does make the problem solving process easier. If you are having trouble with critical thinking, don’t shy away from doing it. Get involved where you can and stretch those muscles as regularly as possible. 

Problem solving skills come more naturally to some than to others and that’s okay. Take opportunities to get involved and see where you can practice your skills in situations outside of a workshop context. Try collaborating in other circumstances at work or conduct data analysis on your own projects. You can often develop those skills you need for problem solving simply by doing them. Get involved!

Use expert exercises and methods

Learn from the best. Our library of 700+ facilitation techniques is full of activities and methods that help develop the skills you need to be an effective problem solver. Check out our templates to see how to approach problem solving and other organizational challenges in a structured and intelligent manner.

There is no single approach to improving problem solving skills, but by using the techniques employed by others you can learn from their example and develop processes that have seen proven results. 

Try new ways of thinking and change your mindset

Using tried and tested exercises that you know well can help deliver results, but you do run the risk of missing out on the learning opportunities offered by new approaches. As with the problem solving process, changing your mindset can remove blockages and be used to develop your problem solving skills.

Most teams have members with mixed skill sets and specialties. Mix people from different teams and share skills and different points of view. Teach your customer support team how to use design thinking methods or help your developers with conflict resolution techniques. Try switching perspectives with facilitation techniques like Flip It! or by using new problem solving methodologies or models. Give design thinking, liberating structures or lego serious play a try if you want to try a new approach. You will find that framing problems in new ways and using existing skills in new contexts can be hugely useful for personal development and improving your skillset. It’s also a lot of fun to try new things. Give it a go!

Encountering business challenges and needing to find appropriate solutions is not unique to your organization. Lots of very smart people have developed methods, theories and approaches to help develop problem solving skills and create effective solutions. Learn from them!

Books like The Art of Thinking Clearly , Think Smarter, or Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow are great places to start, though it’s also worth looking at blogs related to organizations facing similar problems to yours, or browsing for success stories. Seeing how Dropbox massively increased growth and working backward can help you see the skills or approach you might be lacking to solve that same problem. Learning from others by reading their stories or approaches can be time-consuming but ultimately rewarding.

A tired, distracted mind is not in the best position to learn new skills. It can be tempted to burn the candle at both ends and develop problem solving skills outside of work. Absolutely use your time effectively and take opportunities for self-improvement, though remember that rest is hugely important and that without letting your brain rest, you cannot be at your most effective. 

Creating distance between yourself and the problem you might be facing can also be useful. By letting an idea sit, you can find that a better one presents itself or you can develop it further. Take regular breaks when working and create a space for downtime. Remember that working smarter is preferable to working harder and that self-care is important for any effective learning or improvement process.

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list problem solving or decision making steps you follow

Over to you

Now we’ve explored some of the key problem solving skills and the problem solving steps necessary for an effective process, you’re ready to begin developing more effective solutions and leading problem solving workshops.

Need more inspiration? Check out our post on problem solving activities you can use when guiding a group towards a great solution in your next workshop or meeting. Have questions? Did you have a great problem solving technique you use with your team? Get in touch in the comments below. We’d love to chat!

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list problem solving or decision making steps you follow

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A 5-Step Problem-Solving Strategy

Specify the problem – a first step to solving a problem is to identify it as specifically as possible.  It involves evaluating the present state and determining how it differs from the goal state.

Analyze the problem – analyzing the problem involves learning as much as you can about it.  It may be necessary to look beyond the obvious, surface situation, to stretch your imagination and reach for more creative options.

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research problems for which you lack complete information. Get help.

Formulate possible solutions – identify a wide range of possible solutions.

try to think of all possible solutions

be creative

consider similar problems and how you have solved them

Evaluate possible solutions – weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.  Think through each solution and consider how, when, and where you could accomplish each.  Consider both immediate and long-term results.  Mapping your solutions can be helpful at this stage.

Choose a solution – consider 3 factors:

compatibility with your priorities

amount of risk


Keys to Problem Solving

Think aloud – problem solving is a cognitive, mental process.  Thinking aloud or talking yourself through the steps of problem solving is useful.  Hearing yourself think can facilitate the process.

Allow time for ideas to "gel" or consolidate.  If time permits, give yourself time for solutions to develop.  Distance from a problem can allow you to clear your mind and get a new perspective.

Talk about the problem – describing the problem to someone else and talking about it can often make a problem become more clear and defined so that a new solution will surface.

Decision Making Strategies

Decision making is a process of identifying and evaluating choices.  We make numerous decisions every day and our decisions may range from routine, every-day types of decisions to those decisions which will have far reaching impacts.  The types of decisions we make are routine, impulsive, and reasoned.  Deciding what to eat for breakfast is a routine decision; deciding to do or buy something at the last minute is considered an impulsive decision; and choosing your college major is, hopefully, a reasoned decision.  College coursework often requires you to make the latter, or reasoned decisions.

Decision making has much in common with problem solving.  In problem solving you identify and evaluate solution paths; in decision making you make a similar discovery and evaluation of alternatives.  The crux of decision making, then, is the careful identification and evaluation of alternatives.  As you weigh alternatives, use the following suggestions:

Consider the outcome each is likely to produce, in both the short term and the long term.

Compare alternatives based on how easily you can accomplish each.

Evaluate possible negative side effects each may produce.

Consider the risk involved in each.

Be creative, original; don't eliminate alternatives because you have not heard or used them before.

An important part of decision making is to predict both short-term and long-term outcomes for each alternative.  You may find that while an alternative seems most desirable at the present, it may pose problems or complications over a longer time period.

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Problem solving techniques: Steps and methods

list problem solving or decision making steps you follow

Posted on May 29, 2019

Constant disruption has become a hallmark of the modern workforce and organisations want problem solving skills to combat this. Employers need people who can respond to change – be that evolving technology, new competitors, different models for doing business, or any of the other transformations that have taken place in recent years.

In addition, problem solving techniques encompass many of the other top skills employers seek . For example, LinkedIn’s list of the most in-demand soft skills of 2019 includes creativity, collaboration and adaptability, all of which fall under the problem-solving umbrella.

Despite its importance, many employees misunderstand what the problem solving method really involves.

What constitutes effective problem solving?

Effective problem solving doesn’t mean going away and coming up with an answer immediately. In fact, this isn’t good problem solving at all, because you’ll be running with the first solution that comes into your mind, which often isn’t the best.

Instead, you should look at problem solving more as a process with several steps involved that will help you reach the best outcome. Those steps are:

  • Define the problem
  • List all the possible solutions
  • Evaluate the options
  • Select the best solution
  • Create an implementation plan
  • Communicate your solution

Let’s look at each step in a little more detail.

It's important you take the time to brainstorm and consider all your options when solving problems.

1. Define the problem

The first step to solving a problem is defining what the problem actually is – sounds simple, right? Well no. An effective problem solver will take the thoughts of everyone involved into account, but different people might have different ideas on what the root cause of the issue really is. It’s up to you to actively listen to everyone without bringing any of your own preconceived notions to the conversation. Learning to differentiate facts from opinion is an essential part of this process.

An effective problem solver will take the opinions of everyone involved into account

The same can be said of data. Depending on what the problem is, there will be varying amounts of information available that will help you work out what’s gone wrong. There should be at least some data involved in any problem, and it’s up to you to gather as much as possible and analyse it objectively.

2. List all the possible solutions

Once you’ve identified what the real issue is, it’s time to think of solutions. Brainstorming as many solutions as possible will help you arrive at the best answer because you’ll be considering all potential options and scenarios. You should take everyone’s thoughts into account when you’re brainstorming these ideas, as well as all the insights you’ve gleaned from your data analysis. It also helps to seek input from others at this stage, as they may come up with solutions you haven’t thought of.

Depending on the type of problem, it can be useful to think of both short-term and long-term solutions, as some of your options may take a while to implement.

One of the best problem solving techniques is brainstorming a number of different solutions and involving affected parties in this process.

3. Evaluate the options

Each option will have pros and cons, and it’s important you list all of these, as well as how each solution could impact key stakeholders. Once you’ve narrowed down your options to three or four, it’s often a good idea to go to other employees for feedback just in case you’ve missed something. You should also work out how each option ties in with the broader goals of the business.

There may be a way to merge two options together in order to satisfy more people.

4. Select an option

Only now should you choose which solution you’re going to go with. What you decide should be whatever solves the problem most effectively while also taking the interests of everyone involved into account. There may be a way to merge two options together in order to satisfy more people.

5. Create an implementation plan

At this point you might be thinking it’s time to sit back and relax – problem solved, right? There are actually two more steps involved if you want your problem solving method to be truly effective. The first is to create an implementation plan. After all, if you don’t carry out your solution effectively, you’re not really solving the problem at all. 

Create an implementation plan on how you will put your solution into practice. One problem solving technique that many use here is to introduce a testing and feedback phase just to make sure the option you’ve selected really is the most viable. You’ll also want to include any changes to your solution that may occur in your implementation plan, as well as how you’ll monitor compliance and success.

6. Communicate your solution

There’s one last step to consider as part of the problem solving methodology, and that’s communicating your solution . Without this crucial part of the process, how is anyone going to know what you’ve decided? Make sure you communicate your decision to all the people who might be impacted by it. Not everyone is going to be 100 per cent happy with it, so when you communicate you must give them context. Explain exactly why you’ve made that decision and how the pros mean it’s better than any of the other options you came up with.

Prove your problem solving skills with Deakin

Employers are increasingly seeking soft skills, but unfortunately, while you can show that you’ve got a degree in a subject, it’s much harder to prove you’ve got proficiency in things like problem solving skills. But this is changing thanks to Deakin’s micro-credentials. These are university-level micro-credentials that provide an authoritative and third-party assessment of your capabilities in a range of areas, including problem solving. Reach out today for more information .

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How to Problem Solve Before Making a Decision

Someone that can make decisions using logic and problem solving skills is someone that is going to be far more successful than someone that is overwhelmed and chooses their decisions mostly at random. While no one actually makes decisions truly randomly, the better you are at describing your process, the more confident that employers will be with your abilities. That’s why you’re likely to get many different interview questions about problem solving, including questions about how you think about a problem before actually loving it.

Behavioral Interview Question: What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision? Why?

This is a tough question for most people to answer. You essentially have to avoid the obvious response – “I just make decisions,” – and try to come up with a formal process for thought. Luckily, the answer the employer is looking for is a bit more obvious. They are looking for someone that says some variation of:

  • I look for historical averages and/or past instances of this problem and their outcome.
  • I consult with the right people who have both relevant knowledge and experience.
  • I create some type of spreadsheet that weighs the pros and cons.

This is oversimplified, to be sure, but they are essentially looking for you to have a formalized process that makes sense, and that you don’t ask everyone for help all the time.

An example answer includes:

“When the problem is work related, I try to see what has been done in the past at the company, and then compare the actual outcome to the ideal outcome. Most problems that occur in any company have already happened before, so I take what has happened into consideration, look at the outcome, compare that to the strategies that make the most logical sense, and then apply a solution. If it’s a recurring problem, I’ll also take note of the response and bring it to management so that we can try to avoid the problem again in the future.”

Ideally you can use specific details, or maybe a past example, but this generic style answer will tick the box for the interviewer, who is looking for an awareness of problem solving strategies. Notice also the end of the answer, where you talk about your strategies to avoid future problems. All employers love to hear what you will do to make sure that they are problem free in the future, so adding some type of story about following up and problem prevention is worthwhile.

See Also Related Post – 3 Types of Problem Solvers: Which One Are You?

See Also Related Post – How Do You Go About Problem Solving? 

See Also Related Post – How to Show That Problems Are Opportunities in Disguise

Related Posts

  • Making The Right Decision When You Have Multiple Options April 1, 2018
  • 5 Types of Decision Making Skills You Need To Know July 31, 2017
  • Explaining Your Decision Making Process July 5, 2017
  • Effective Decision Making Skills Employers Look For July 3, 2017


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3 essential tips for leaders to enhance decision-making.

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One of the key skills for leaders is the ability to leverage data effectively to make informed decisions. However, many organizations fall into the trap of adopting a data-driven approach that may not fully address their actual business challenges. Research has shown that there is a tendency among decision-makers to confirm their initial biases by seeking out data to support pre-conceived solutions rather than genuinely exploring what the data has to offer.

Decision-driven analytics is not just a tool, but a strategic approach that places decision-makers at the core of the process . This approach focuses on the decisions that need to be made first and then identifies the data required to support those decisions. It demands that leaders not only seek answers but also formulate the right questions, demonstrating a commitment to intellectual humility and recognizing the limits of their current knowledge. By adopting this strategic approach, business leaders can feel more strategic and forward-thinking in their decision-making process.

Action Steps for Business Leaders:

1. identify the decision:.

Start by clearly defining the decision that needs to be made, concentrating on options that you can control and are relevant to your role within the organization. Expand your perspective by engaging with diverse viewpoints to explore different solutions. This helps identify actionable and impactful options while avoiding infeasible or excessively risky ones. Initial considerations should focus purely on the decision itself, rather than being swayed by existing data sets, which might lead to biased or irrelevant questions.

2. Ask Factual Questions:

When you need predictive insights , ask factual questions. For example, a manufacturing manager might need to predict when equipment will fail to schedule maintenance effectively. Similarly, retailers could benefit from understanding patterns in product returns to adjust pricing strategies or enhance product quality. These factual inquiries help craft precise, actionable strategies based on predictive data analysis.

3. Explore Counterfactuals:

Counterfactual questions allow you to assess the potential outcomes of different interventions. This inquiry type is helpful for scenarios requiring a deeper understanding of cause and effect, such as policy changes or strategic business initiatives. For example, a political campaign team might use counterfactual questions to determine which strategies most effectively persuade undecided voters.

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Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024, practical implementation in business:.

Consider a company that offers a subscription service for office supplies. To address customer attrition, the company initially focuses on customers most likely to cancel their subscriptions. To truly understand the impact of potential incentives on customer retention, the company should ask a counterfactual question: "What effect would incentives have on customer retention rates?" The company could then conduct a randomized controlled trial, offering incentives to a randomly selected group of customers and comparing their behavior to a control group without incentives. This practical and straightforward method equips business leaders with the tools and knowledge to optimize their approach based on solid experimental data rather than assumptions.

By shifting from a purely data-driven strategy to a decision-driven approach, business leaders can ensure that their actions are guided by a clear understanding of their goals and the best available evidence. This method enhances the relevance and impact of business analytics and aligns closely with strategic business objectives, fostering a more analytical and outcome-focused business culture.

Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio

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  1. 7 important steps in the decision making process

    Summary The decision making process is a method of gathering information, assessing alternatives, and making a final choice with the goal of making the best decision possible. In this article, we detail the step-by-step process on how to make a good decision and explain different decision making methodologies.

  2. What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)

    The problem-solving process typically includes the following steps: Identify the issue: Recognize the problem that needs to be solved. Analyze the situation: Examine the issue in depth, gather all relevant information, and consider any limitations or constraints that may be present. Generate potential solutions: Brainstorm a list of possible ...

  3. Effective Decision Making Process: 7 Steps with Examples

    Making decisions is an inevitable part of life, and knowing how to navigate through the decision-making process can be crucial for both your personal and professional success. In this article, we will explore the seven essential steps to help you make thoughtful and informed choices.

  4. Decision-Making Process: Steps, Tips, and Strategies

    The decision-making process is a framework that helps you strike that balance. Follow the seven steps and you and your team can feel confident in the decisions you make — while leaving the darts and coins where they belong.

  5. 40 problem-solving techniques and processes

    Create innovative solutions and solve tough challenges with these problem-solving techniques and tips for running an effective problem solving process.

  6. 7 Useful Steps in the Decision-Making Process (With Templates)

    With this guide to the decision-making process, you'll learn seven critical steps to making better decisions. We'll cover the different types of decision-making methods you can leverage in your business.

  7. 8 Steps in the Decision-Making Process

    Here are eight steps in the decision-making process you can employ to become a better manager and have greater influence at your organization.

  8. 10 Problem-solving strategies to turn challenges on their head

    Discover how to tackle any challenge with these 10 problem-solving strategies. Learn the steps of the problem-solving process and how to apply them effectively.

  9. The 5 steps of the solving problem process

    In this article, we'll walk you through the 5 steps of problem solving, and help you explore a few examples of problem solving scenarios where you can see the problem solving process in action before putting it to work.

  10. The Ultimate Problem-Solving Process Guide: 31 Steps & Resources

    The Ultimate Problem-Solving Process Guide offers 31 steps & resources to dial in problem solving skills. Learn profitable problem solving techniques, problem solving exercises & helpful problem solving processes like root cause analysis, army problem solving processes & more.

  11. Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

    Having generated solutions, you need to decide which one to take, which is where decision-making meets problem-solving. But once decided, there is another step: to deliver on your decision, and then see if your chosen solution works.

  12. 7 steps of the decision-making process

    Prevent hasty decision-making and make more educated decisions when you put a formal decision-making process in place for your business.

  13. Decision Making

    Learn powerful decision-making methods and how to cultivate problem-solving skills for a range of issues we all face in the workplace and beyond. In this course, you'll evaluate your current problem-solving approach and learn techniques that will sharpen your analytical and critical skills required to help you quickly resolve issues. Defining ...

  14. Tips And Techniques For Problem-Solving And Decision-Making

    The ability to solve problems and make decisions quickly and effectively can mean the difference between success and failure. There are two main approaches to problem-solving and decision-making ...

  15. Problem Solving Strategies for the Workplace [2024] • Asana

    4 steps to better problem solving. While it might be tempting to dive into a problem head first, take the time to move step by step. Here's how you can effectively break down the problem-solving process with your team: 1. Identify the problem that needs to be solved. One of the easiest ways to identify a problem is to ask questions.

  16. How To Put Problem-Solving Skills To Work in 6 Steps

    Learn about important problem-solving steps, including defining a problem, understanding its cause, developing alternative solutions and choosing a solution.

  17. How to Make Great Decisions, Quickly

    Learn to make impactful decisions as a leader by considering multiple viewpoints, addressing root causes, and balancing short and long-term value.

  18. 9 Key Steps for an Effective Decision Making Process [+Examples]

    This is an in-depth guide to the Decision Making Process. You'll learn how to make informed decisions and avoid bad decision-making in your company.

  19. How to improve your problem solving skills and strategies

    To truly understand a problem and develop appropriate solutions, you will want to follow a solid process, follow the necessary problem solving steps, and bring all of your problem solving skills to the table. We'll forst look at what problem solving strategies you can employ with your team when looking for a way to approach the process.

  20. Decision-Making and Problem-Solving: What's the Difference?

    Problem-solving involves identifying an issue, finding causes, asking questions and brainstorming solutions. Gathering facts helps make the solution more obvious. Decision-making is the process of choosing a solution based on your judgment, situation, facts, knowledge or a combination of available data.

  21. Decision-making and Problem-solving

    A 5-Step Problem-Solving Strategy. Specify the problem - a first step to solving a problem is to identify it as specifically as possible. It involves evaluating the present state and determining how it differs from the goal state. Analyze the problem - analyzing the problem involves learning as much as you can about it.

  22. Problem solving techniques: Steps and methods

    Learn how to solve problems effectively in a changing world with this online course from Deakin University. Discover the steps and methods of problem solving techniques.

  23. How to Problem Solve Before Making a Decision

    Problem Solving. Someone that can make decisions using logic and problem solving skills is someone that is going to be far more successful than someone that is overwhelmed and chooses their decisions mostly at random. While no one actually makes decisions truly randomly, the better you are at describing your process, the more confident that ...

  24. 3 Essential Tips For Leaders To Enhance Decision-Making

    Unlock better decision-making with these top 3 strategies for leaders. Streamline processes and boost effectiveness.