Methods of problem solving

Methods of problem solving help to understand the essence of the problem and to find important points for decision-making.

The technique is used to quickly solve complex problems in a team or personally.


Work principles

Breakdown into elements:

  • Our brain works by perceiving one piece of information at a time. This fragment of information can be unambiguous, for example "a brick". And maybe more difficult, for example, "my house"

  • Information about our problems is perceived in the same way. It also consists of separate elements, which can be formulated with a short phrase, for example "The roof leaks"

  • Parts of the problem can be written on the stickers

  • As a result, you can find a solution to problems. First you need to break them into elements. Then classify them into main categories. Then concentrate on the important points

Ways of systematization

There are three main forms of classification of individual elements:

  • Lists. They can be chaotic, or sorted in order of importance

  • Tree structure. Has a simple hierarchical relationship "parent-child" Can be ascending and descending

  • Maps. These are forms with a more complex structure, any element of which can be associated with any other element. They can be used to link specific actions, or more complex elements of information


 If you write down the original benchmarks, this will help you stay on track during the work session

  • Goals describe what you are trying to achieve. Anti-goals are what you want to avoid

  • Criteria are the starting point for a decision. For example: "The cost must be low"

  • Questions stimulate and suggest

  • Restrictions reduce the number of solutions. For example: "Only the marketing department can use budgets


The quality of information

While making decision of a problem, poor-quality information leads to the wrong decision. Garbage at the entrance leads to garbage at the exit. It is necessary to work on converting assumptions and opinions into facts.

  • Facts are what can be proved.

  • Opinions are what people believe.

  • Assumptions are unreasonable ideas and vague guesses


A good element of the information:

  • Each element of the information is easy to read and understand.

  • Elements of information have a simple structure "verb + noun" or "adjective + noun", so they describe the happening phenomenon.

  • You can add information, but in general the information element should remain clear and concise.



Good examples: "The device broke in the bathroom" or "The customer is dissatisfied with the delay".

Unsuccessful examples: "Many complaints" or "There have been several phone calls from people who have long and loudly complained about the amount of time it takes to wait until they are served."


Divergence and convergence

We recommend to use divergence and convergence techniques to solve problems. Traditional thinking gives a limited number of obvious solutions. Divergent thinking gives many new solutions.

  • Divergence - divergent thinking. When you release your mind

  • Convergence - traditional, focal thinking. When you are concentrated



Serves to collect elements of information about the situation.

When to apply:

  • At the beginning of the problem-solving session

  • Instead of brainstorming

  • When you need a whole picture, and each participant has only a piece of information



Serves for prioritization.

When to apply:

  • Sorting of unorganized information

  • Is used after Poster, Tree, Maps 


​Ascending tree

Serves to break down the problem into important parts.

When to apply:

  • Breakdown of tasks into subtasks.

  • Breakdown of the problem into logical components.

  • Clarifying the causes of the occurrence.


 Descending tree

Serves to organize disparate elements into a unity.

When to apply:

  • To find out the essence of the problem


Information map

Serves to show complex relationships between the elements of the problem.

When to apply:

  • For creative sessions without a clear structure

  • For a particularly confusing problem with multiple relationships


Process map

Serves to show links in a set of actions.

When to apply:

  • To develop processes

  • When you plan projects


Advantages of the problem solving technique:

  • Visualization involves in the solution both the logical and creative potential of the person and the team. => High speed and quality of the solution is achieved

  • The ability to involve the team in a wide range of knowledge and experience. => A high depth of elaboration of the question is reached and the probability of finding the right solution is increased


    The team has the opportunity to actively and creatively participate in the decision. => Reduces the resistance of the team and increases the understanding of the situation as a whole when implementing the solution.


On this page we give a general idea of the methods of solving problems and complex tasks.

If you plan to develop these skills deeper, we recommend to study additional literature or visit a specialized training:

  • Literature

  • Training