5 Steps to Problem Solving

5 Steps to Problem Solving
We’ve all heard that problem solving is an important life skill. But what does it actually entail? Is there a systematic way you can go about problem-solving? Is it possible to improve your problem-solving skills?
In this guide, we’ll look at the five steps to solving any problem. You can apply these steps to any problem you’re experiencing in your work life, home life, education, interpersonal relationships, and career.
1—Recognize that there is a Problem
The realization that a problem exists at all is often the most vital part of problem-solving. A company can be dominating their industry, for example, only to find that changes in the marketplace see their customers rapidly turn to their competitors. Or a call center manager, happy with the performance they can get out of their team, can be blindsided by impromptu resignations over pay or working conditions.
In some cases, the problem will clearly present itself, such as a customer having an issue with your product. But being on the lookout for problems so you can react quickly when they come up is a big part of the problem-solving process.
2—Find the True Source of the Issue
It’s important to be able to differentiate between the source of the problem and the symptoms of the problem. 
You may have a sales team that isn’t meeting its quota, for example. Initially, it may seem that the problem is clear, but the reason for the sales team not meeting its quota might be the real problem. Is the quota too high? Has the team been given adequate training? Are there issues with the product that makes sales difficult to achieve?
The symptoms of the problem, such as poor sales, help you identify a problem. But only with careful consideration and research can you find the true reason that the problem is occurring.
3—Formulate a Plan to Rectify the Problem
Now you understand what the problem is and why it’s happening, it’s time to plan to fix it. Have a clear and measurable goal. Split the plan into smaller actionable goals that can be achieved within a specific timescale. 
Keep all your goals reasonable and attainable, but each step of your plan should inevitably move towards the next step of achieving your goal and rectifying the problem.
4—Implement the Solution
Only after you have formulated a complete plan and gotten feedback from all involved parties should the plan be put into place. 
If your problem and solution involve a team of people, get their feedback on it and attempt to incorporate as much of their advice as possible. This will increase buy-in and commitment as team members will perceive it as a plan you make together instead of one that was forced upon them. They will be better incentivized to see the plan succeed.
5—Monitor and Get Feedback
Keep track of the solution as it progresses. You may need to alter the goals as you proceed if new elements come to light. Get feedback from everyone about whether the plan is working, and tweak the plan as required. Problem-solving can be an interactive process, so be willing to go back to the drawing board if your first attempts fall short.

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