Seven steps for Effective Problem Solving

Here are seven-steps for an effective problem-solving process. 

1. Identify the issues.

  • Be clear about what the problem is. 
  • Remember that different people might have different views of what the issues are. 
  • Separate the listing of issues from the identification of interests (that’s the next step!).

2. Understand everyone’s interests.

  • This is a critical step that is usually missing. 
  • Interests are the needs that you want satisfied by any given solution. We often ignore our true interests as we become attached to one particular solution. 
  • The best solution is the one that satisfies everyone’s interests. 
  • This is the time for active listening. Put down your differences for awhile and listen to each other with the intention to understand. 
  • Separate the naming of interests from the listing of solutions. 

3. List the possible solutions (options)

  • This is the time to do some brainstorming. There may be lots of room for creativity. 
  • Separate the listing of options from the evaluation of the options.

4. Evaluate the options.

  • What are the pluses and minuses? Honestly!
  • Separate the evaluation of options from the selection of options.

5. Select an option or options. 

  • What’s the best option, in the balance? 
  • Is there a way to “bundle” a number of options together for a more satisfactory solution? 

6. Document the agreement(s). 

  • Don’t rely on memory. 
  • Writing it down will help you think through all the details and implications. 

7. Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation. 

  • Conditions may change. Make contingency agreements about foreseeable future circumstances (If-then!).
  • How will you monitor compliance and follow-through?
  • Create opportunities to evaluate the agreements and their implementation. (“Let’s try it this way for three months and then look at it.”)

Published by maryshannonhurst

My name is Mary Shannon Hurst, I am a mother of three children, and two grandchildren. Making the transition navigating my way through teenage pregnancy, motherhood, marriages, divorces and navigating sisterhood, job skills training, community relations, international relations, cultural relations, and educating children begins as soon as they are conceived from the foods that go into their mouths the nutrition that they eat, if they get enough sunshine, and exercise fresh air hugs and love and attention. I believe there is a reason and a purpose for everything, from scribbles, to spilled paint, over spray happens, paint bleeds, chalk dust gets up your nose you sneeze. Just like pollen in the air, and dust in the air makes you sneeze and some people pee a little but when they sneeze. If you make a mistake, or have an accident you clean it up. You laugh, a little or cry a little or a lot and go on about your day, you own it. Clean up your mess. Always find a reason to smile, find some joy in everyday. Always be kind. And Pay it Forward. Tell someone you Love them, Have a Nice Blessed Day!

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