The Problem Solving Approach

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Here are the steps most commonly used in problem-solving, their associated skills, and examples of where they are utilized in different career sectors.

In order to solve a problem, you must first figure out what caused it.

In nearly every career sector, problem-solving is one of the key skills that employers seek in job applicants.

It is hard to find a blue-collar, administrative, managerial, or professional position that doesn't require problem-solving skills of some kind.

A computer specialist might be looking for a way to speed up a slow program.

Now that you've brainstormed a list of potential problems, your next step is to think up effective solutions for these issues, noting the skills you will need to resolve them.Depending upon the nature of the problem and your chain of command, evaluating the best solutions may be performed by assigned teams, team leads, or forwarded upward to major corporate decision makers.Whoever makes the decision must evaluate potential costs, required resources, and possible barriers to successful solution implementation.Considered a soft skill (a personal strength, as opposed to a hard skill that is learned through education or training), an aptitude for creative and effective problem-solving is nonetheless one of the most valued attributes employers seek in their job candidates.For example, a cable television technician might be trying to resolve a customer problem with a weak signal.A teacher might need to figure out how to improve the performance of her students on a writing proficiency test.A store manager might be trying to reduce theft of merchandise.Sometimes this involves teamwork, since two (or more) minds are often better than one.It’s rare that a single strategy is the obvious route to solving a complex problem; devising a set of alternatives helps you to cover your bases and reduce your risk exposure should the first strategy you implement fail.Have a look at several of them and see if you can find a common pattern.One commonality you will likely find in examining other people’s design process diagrams is this: the first step in designing any solution is to clearly define the problem. Think about the kind of communication that each step of this process might entail.

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