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Due to the large response I have had to the few articles I have published on my site relating to problems and problem solving I have decided to publish an overview of a series of lectures I have given on this topic.  These articles are based on a course I developed and delivered in Australia for corporate managers.

The focus of these articles is for management but many of the principles and suggestions apply equally well to students and others when faced with a problem.

The articles may be read as stand alone articles or as a comprehensive outline on dealing with problems.

Gary Hadler B.Ec, Dip.Ed, MBA.

If you have an comments on an article, please just email it to

[email protected]


What are problems?
This article gives an overview of exactly what do we mean when we have a problem.  Problems can be defined broadly as situations in which we experience uncertainty or difficulty in achieving what we want to achieve.  It is very important to understand the nature of a problem prior to looking for the best solution. Read More..


The stages of problem solving
This article examines the different stages involved in the problem solving process. The problem solving process can be divided in different ways and the stages have been given various labels. This has been done to make it easier to understand but how it is divided and the labels that are used are not important. To be a successful problem solver you need to understand what the stages involve and follow them methodically whenever you encounter a problem. Read More..

The skills of problem solving
Problem solving requires two distinct types of mental skill, analytical and creative.  This article covers some of the skills which can be developed and encouraged to make problem solving more straightforward and effective. Read More..

Why people fail to solve problems effectively
Solving problems is a complex process and each of us is better at the skills required at some stages than others. This article examines some of the major reasons that people fail to solve problems in an effective manner.  Knowing the reasons for failure is a good start to avoiding these reasons when trying to solve your own problems. Read More..

Barriers to finding the best solution 
Some of the reasons we do not find the most effective solutions to our problems have been mentioned already. This article looks at a range of factors known as 'blocks' which can hinder your problem solving. It will help you to learn to recognise and overcome them. Read More..

Overcoming the blocks to problem solving
This article looks at some ways that the obstacles or blocks that were considered in the previous article can be overcome.  For many people once they clearly identified the block that they are facing can implement a strategy that will then allow them to overcome these blocks. Read More..

A good climate for problem solving 
It's not enough simply to teach effective problem solving techniques. The working environment has a very powerful influence on the individual's ability to solve problems effectively and it needs to be supportive and stimulating.  It is a very helpful way to improve problem solving techniques by ensuring the environment is conducive to people being able to effectively solve their problems. Read More..

Company policies and procedures effect on problem solving 
Possessing good problem solving skills does not make people automatically use them to the benefit of the organisation. They need encouragement, support and guidance in applying them to the organisation's problems. If the company has in place obstacles to people using their problem solving techniques this can be a substantial problem to solutions being found.  What can an organisation do about this. Read More..

Style of management effect on problem solving
The way or style of management within an organisation has a very big effect on the ability of people to effectively solve problems.  Often managers are not even aware that their actions and behaviors are contributing to the problem.  I remember learning during my MBA the single biggest reason people leave their job is they do not like their boss. Read More..

Physical environment effect on problem solving
We all know from experience that our surroundings can have an important influence on the way we feel, think and work. This is particularly true of solving problems, in terms of both' the process itself and the' general attitude to productivity.  It is very important to try to ensure that the physical environment that we are operating in is not contributing to our inability to solve the problems that we face. Read More..

Does your organisation support problem solving? 15 telling questions to ask!
Many people think that their is no or little problems with their organisation.  This is a simple list of fifteen telling questions to ask yourself about your organisation in relation to problem solving.  If your answer is NO to some of these questions then I suggest you ask yourself 'why not?'. Read More..

So what's the problem?
Before you start trying to solve a problem you need to be sure that a problem exists, discover precisely what it is, and decide whether it is important enough to warrant time and effort in solving it. This articles is aimed at helping you: ensure that you recognise problems efficiently; define problems effectively; decide if action is necessary and when. Read More..

Defining problems – closed and open ended problems
It is very important that your can clearly distinguish between an open ended problem and a closed problem.  The need to have a clear definition of the problem you are facing is the best first step to solving it.  This article is aimed at giving you some practical suggestions about how to go about getting a clear understanding of the problem that you are facing.  Many poor solutions to problems originate with people poorly defining what the problem was in the first place. Read More..

Finding possible solutions to your problems
Now that we have been able to correctly define our problem, the search for solutions can begin.  The next few articles look at possible frameworks and methods that can be used to find solutions to the problems that you face.  When looking for a solution it is important to try to find the best possible solution and not just any possible solutions.  Quick fixes can often lead to future problems. Read More..

The Road to a Solution - Using models to represent a problem 
When we face an important problem our eagerness to solve it often leads us to accept the first solution that comes to mind, so that we can implement it without delay. Very often this will not be the most effective solution available. The best approach, particularly with open-ended problems, is to create a range of possible solutions from which we can subsequently select the best.  This article looks at how different models can be helpful in finding a solution. Read More..

The Road to a Solution - Generating ideas
This article goes into some depth about different methods that can be used to generate new and fresh ideas about how to solve a problem.  The saying that you cannot see the wood because of the tress is often really referring to lack of a new approach at looking.  There a a variety of simple methods that can be used to help you come up with new ways to solve a problem. Read More..

Solving problems using a group - advantages and disadvantages 
During our study and work life we will often be expected to work as a part of a group.  Group work often leaves  have at people frustrated. Many question the effectiveness of group decision making, others strongly support it. So when should we use a group to solve a problem and what are the advantages and disadvantages of using a group to solve a problem. Read More..

The ‘unlucky’ list to bad decision making
The following is a list of the thirteen most common reasons people make bad decisions.  Once aware of what factors cause bad decisions to be made it should be easier to avoid making bad decisions yourself.  This article includes some factors that should be considered when you are trying to decide who you should involve in the decision making process. Read More..

Evaluating the solution 
There are various ways of evaluating the possible solutions to a problem but' basically you need to identify and compare their relative values. This information must be recorded and presented in a meaningful way to aid comparison. It can also be used to persuade other people to accept the decision and help to communicate the solution to those involved in its implementation. This article considers some keys factors that need to be considered when evaluating possible solutions Read More..

Getting your solution accepted - Reasons for opposition and how to plan your presentation
Once you have decided on a solution to a particular problem you may need to obtain other people's cooperation, approval or authority in order to implement it successfully. With routine problems, where there is common understanding of what is involved, this is often straightforward and simply involves notifying the relevant people of your decision and how it will affect them. However, with complex and uncommon problems, and where major change or extensive use of resources is required, you should plan how to present your solution effectively. Read More..

Getting your solution accepted - Making your presentation
The way you present your information is crucial to success, whether it's done verbally or in a report. In general you should aim to make your presentation clear, simple and to the point. To help explain your solution in a way that people will understand easily read the suggestions contained in this article. Read More..

Implementing your solution
Implementation is the culmination of all your work in solving a problem and requires careful attention to detail. There are three basic stages involved: planning and preparing to implement the solution; implementing and monitoring the action: reviewing and analysing the success of the  action.  This article looks at these issues. Read More..

The Action Plan
This article is the final in my series of articles based on a systematic approach to problem solving. The following Action Plan covers the main features of the problem solving process. You can use it as a guide in tackling the problems you encounter. Remember that these stages often mix and overlap. You may have noted additional points which are relevant to your particular situation.. Read More..

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