How to think like a programmer — lessons in problem solving

How to think like a programmer — lessons in problem solving

by Richard Reis

aNP21-ICMABUCyfdi4Pys7P0D2wiZqTd3iRY

If you’re interested in programming, you may well have seen this quote before:

“Everyone in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you to think.” — Steve Jobs

You probably also wondered what does it mean, exactly, to think like a programmer? And how do you do it??

Essentially, it’s all about a more effective way for problem solving .

In this post, my goal is to teach you that way.

By the end of it, you’ll know exactly what steps to take to be a better problem-solver.

Why is this important?

Problem solving is the meta-skill.

We all have problems. Big and small. How we deal with them is sometimes, well…pretty random.

Unless you have a system, this is probably how you “solve” problems (which is what I did when I started coding):

  • Try a solution.
  • If that doesn’t work, try another one.
  • If that doesn’t work, repeat step 2 until you luck out.

Look, sometimes you luck out. But that is the worst way to solve problems! And it’s a huge, huge waste of time.

The best way involves a) having a framework and b) practicing it.

“Almost all employers prioritize problem-solving skills first.
Problem-solving skills are almost unanimously the most important qualification that employers look for….more than programming languages proficiency, debugging, and system design.
Demonstrating computational thinking or the ability to break down large, complex problems is just as valuable (if not more so) than the baseline technical skills required for a job.” — Hacker Rank ( 2018 Developer Skills Report )

Have a framework

To find the right framework, I followed the advice in Tim Ferriss’ book on learning, “ The 4-Hour Chef ”.

It led me to interview two really impressive people: C. Jordan Ball (ranked 1st or 2nd out of 65,000+ users on Coderbyte ), and V. Anton Spraul (author of the book “ Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving ”).

I asked them the same questions, and guess what? Their answers were pretty similar!

Soon, you too will know them.

Sidenote: this doesn’t mean they did everything the same way. Everyone is different. You’ll be different. But if you start with principles we all agree are good, you’ll get a lot further a lot quicker.

“The biggest mistake I see new programmers make is focusing on learning syntax instead of learning how to solve problems.” — V. Anton Spraul

So, what should you do when you encounter a new problem?

Here are the steps:

1. Understand

Know exactly what is being asked. Most hard problems are hard because you don’t understand them (hence why this is the first step).

How to know when you understand a problem? When you can explain it in plain English.

Do you remember being stuck on a problem, you start explaining it, and you instantly see holes in the logic you didn’t see before?

Most programmers know this feeling.

This is why you should write down your problem, doodle a diagram, or tell someone else about it (or thing… some people use a rubber duck ).

“If you can’t explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it.” — Richard Feynman

Don’t dive right into solving without a plan (and somehow hope you can muddle your way through). Plan your solution!

Nothing can help you if you can’t write down the exact steps.

In programming, this means don’t start hacking straight away. Give your brain time to analyze the problem and process the information.

To get a good plan, answer this question:

“Given input X, what are the steps necessary to return output Y?”

Sidenote: Programmers have a great tool to help them with this… Comments!

Pay attention. This is the most important step of all.

Do not try to solve one big problem. You will cry.

Instead, break it into sub-problems. These sub-problems are much easier to solve.

Then, solve each sub-problem one by one. Begin with the simplest. Simplest means you know the answer (or are closer to that answer).

After that, simplest means this sub-problem being solved doesn’t depend on others being solved.

Once you solved every sub-problem, connect the dots.

Connecting all your “sub-solutions” will give you the solution to the original problem. Congratulations!

This technique is a cornerstone of problem-solving. Remember it (read this step again, if you must).

“If I could teach every beginning programmer one problem-solving skill, it would be the ‘reduce the problem technique.’
For example, suppose you’re a new programmer and you’re asked to write a program that reads ten numbers and figures out which number is the third highest. For a brand-new programmer, that can be a tough assignment, even though it only requires basic programming syntax.
If you’re stuck, you should reduce the problem to something simpler. Instead of the third-highest number, what about finding the highest overall? Still too tough? What about finding the largest of just three numbers? Or the larger of two?
Reduce the problem to the point where you know how to solve it and write the solution. Then expand the problem slightly and rewrite the solution to match, and keep going until you are back where you started.” — V. Anton Spraul

By now, you’re probably sitting there thinking “Hey Richard... That’s cool and all, but what if I’m stuck and can’t even solve a sub-problem??”

First off, take a deep breath. Second, that’s fair.

Don’t worry though, friend. This happens to everyone!

The difference is the best programmers/problem-solvers are more curious about bugs/errors than irritated.

In fact, here are three things to try when facing a whammy:

  • Debug: Go step by step through your solution trying to find where you went wrong. Programmers call this debugging (in fact, this is all a debugger does).
“The art of debugging is figuring out what you really told your program to do rather than what you thought you told it to do.”” — Andrew Singer
  • Reassess: Take a step back. Look at the problem from another perspective. Is there anything that can be abstracted to a more general approach?
“Sometimes we get so lost in the details of a problem that we overlook general principles that would solve the problem at a more general level. […]
The classic example of this, of course, is the summation of a long list of consecutive integers, 1 + 2 + 3 + … + n, which a very young Gauss quickly recognized was simply n(n+1)/2, thus avoiding the effort of having to do the addition.” — C. Jordan Ball

Sidenote: Another way of reassessing is starting anew. Delete everything and begin again with fresh eyes. I’m serious. You’ll be dumbfounded at how effective this is.

  • Research: Ahh, good ol’ Google. You read that right. No matter what problem you have, someone has probably solved it. Find that person/ solution. In fact, do this even if you solved the problem! (You can learn a lot from other people’s solutions).

Caveat: Don’t look for a solution to the big problem. Only look for solutions to sub-problems. Why? Because unless you struggle (even a little bit), you won’t learn anything. If you don’t learn anything, you wasted your time.

Don’t expect to be great after just one week. If you want to be a good problem-solver, solve a lot of problems!

Practice. Practice. Practice. It’ll only be a matter of time before you recognize that “this problem could easily be solved with <insert concept here>.”

How to practice? There are options out the wazoo!

Chess puzzles, math problems, Sudoku, Go, Monopoly, video-games, cryptokitties, bla… bla… bla….

In fact, a common pattern amongst successful people is their habit of practicing “micro problem-solving.” For example, Peter Thiel plays chess, and Elon Musk plays video-games.

“Byron Reeves said ‘If you want to see what business leadership may look like in three to five years, look at what’s happening in online games.’
Fast-forward to today. Elon [Musk], Reid [Hoffman], Mark Zuckerberg and many others say that games have been foundational to their success in building their companies.” — Mary Meeker ( 2017 internet trends report )

Does this mean you should just play video-games? Not at all.

But what are video-games all about? That’s right, problem-solving!

So, what you should do is find an outlet to practice. Something that allows you to solve many micro-problems (ideally, something you enjoy).

For example, I enjoy coding challenges. Every day, I try to solve at least one challenge (usually on Coderbyte ).

Like I said, all problems share similar patterns.

That’s all folks!

Now, you know better what it means to “think like a programmer.”

You also know that problem-solving is an incredible skill to cultivate (the meta-skill).

As if that wasn’t enough, notice how you also know what to do to practice your problem-solving skills!

Phew… Pretty cool right?

Finally, I wish you encounter many problems.

You read that right. At least now you know how to solve them! (also, you’ll learn that with every solution, you improve).

“Just when you think you’ve successfully navigated one obstacle, another emerges. But that’s what keeps life interesting.[…]
Life is a process of breaking through these impediments — a series of fortified lines that we must break through.
Each time, you’ll learn something.
Each time, you’ll develop strength, wisdom, and perspective.
Each time, a little more of the competition falls away. Until all that is left is you: the best version of you.” — Ryan Holiday ( The Obstacle is the Way )

Now, go solve some problems!

And best of luck ?

Special thanks to C. Jordan Ball and V. Anton Spraul . All the good advice here came from them.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, test how many times can you hit in 5 seconds. It’s great cardio for your fingers AND will help other people see the story.

If this article was helpful, share it .

Learn to code for free. freeCodeCamp's open source curriculum has helped more than 40,000 people get jobs as developers. Get started

What Is Problem Solving? How Software Engineers Approach Complex Challenges

HackerRank AI Promotion

From debugging an existing system to designing an entirely new software application, a day in the life of a software engineer is filled with various challenges and complexities. The one skill that glues these disparate tasks together and makes them manageable? Problem solving . 

Throughout this blog post, we’ll explore why problem-solving skills are so critical for software engineers, delve into the techniques they use to address complex challenges, and discuss how hiring managers can identify these skills during the hiring process. 

What Is Problem Solving?

But what exactly is problem solving in the context of software engineering? How does it work, and why is it so important?

Problem solving, in the simplest terms, is the process of identifying a problem, analyzing it, and finding the most effective solution to overcome it. For software engineers, this process is deeply embedded in their daily workflow. It could be something as simple as figuring out why a piece of code isn’t working as expected, or something as complex as designing the architecture for a new software system. 

In a world where technology is evolving at a blistering pace, the complexity and volume of problems that software engineers face are also growing. As such, the ability to tackle these issues head-on and find innovative solutions is not only a handy skill — it’s a necessity. 

The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills for Software Engineers

Problem-solving isn’t just another ability that software engineers pull out of their toolkits when they encounter a bug or a system failure. It’s a constant, ongoing process that’s intrinsic to every aspect of their work. Let’s break down why this skill is so critical.

Driving Development Forward

Without problem solving, software development would hit a standstill. Every new feature, every optimization, and every bug fix is a problem that needs solving. Whether it’s a performance issue that needs diagnosing or a user interface that needs improving, the capacity to tackle and solve these problems is what keeps the wheels of development turning.

It’s estimated that 60% of software development lifecycle costs are related to maintenance tasks, including debugging and problem solving. This highlights how pivotal this skill is to the everyday functioning and advancement of software systems.

Innovation and Optimization

The importance of problem solving isn’t confined to reactive scenarios; it also plays a major role in proactive, innovative initiatives . Software engineers often need to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions, whether it’s optimizing an algorithm to run faster or designing a new feature to meet customer needs. These are all forms of problem solving.

Consider the development of the modern smartphone. It wasn’t born out of a pre-existing issue but was a solution to a problem people didn’t realize they had — a device that combined communication, entertainment, and productivity into one handheld tool.

Increasing Efficiency and Productivity

Good problem-solving skills can save a lot of time and resources. Effective problem-solvers are adept at dissecting an issue to understand its root cause, thus reducing the time spent on trial and error. This efficiency means projects move faster, releases happen sooner, and businesses stay ahead of their competition.

Improving Software Quality

Problem solving also plays a significant role in enhancing the quality of the end product. By tackling the root causes of bugs and system failures, software engineers can deliver reliable, high-performing software. This is critical because, according to the Consortium for Information and Software Quality, poor quality software in the U.S. in 2022 cost at least $2.41 trillion in operational issues, wasted developer time, and other related problems.

Problem-Solving Techniques in Software Engineering

So how do software engineers go about tackling these complex challenges? Let’s explore some of the key problem-solving techniques, theories, and processes they commonly use.

Decomposition

Breaking down a problem into smaller, manageable parts is one of the first steps in the problem-solving process. It’s like dealing with a complicated puzzle. You don’t try to solve it all at once. Instead, you separate the pieces, group them based on similarities, and then start working on the smaller sets. This method allows software engineers to handle complex issues without being overwhelmed and makes it easier to identify where things might be going wrong.

Abstraction

In the realm of software engineering, abstraction means focusing on the necessary information only and ignoring irrelevant details. It is a way of simplifying complex systems to make them easier to understand and manage. For instance, a software engineer might ignore the details of how a database works to focus on the information it holds and how to retrieve or modify that information.

Algorithmic Thinking

At its core, software engineering is about creating algorithms — step-by-step procedures to solve a problem or accomplish a goal. Algorithmic thinking involves conceiving and expressing these procedures clearly and accurately and viewing every problem through an algorithmic lens. A well-designed algorithm not only solves the problem at hand but also does so efficiently, saving computational resources.

Parallel Thinking

Parallel thinking is a structured process where team members think in the same direction at the same time, allowing for more organized discussion and collaboration. It’s an approach popularized by Edward de Bono with the “ Six Thinking Hats ” technique, where each “hat” represents a different style of thinking.

In the context of software engineering, parallel thinking can be highly effective for problem solving. For instance, when dealing with a complex issue, the team can use the “White Hat” to focus solely on the data and facts about the problem, then the “Black Hat” to consider potential problems with a proposed solution, and so on. This structured approach can lead to more comprehensive analysis and more effective solutions, and it ensures that everyone’s perspectives are considered.

This is the process of identifying and fixing errors in code . Debugging involves carefully reviewing the code, reproducing and analyzing the error, and then making necessary modifications to rectify the problem. It’s a key part of maintaining and improving software quality.

Testing and Validation

Testing is an essential part of problem solving in software engineering. Engineers use a variety of tests to verify that their code works as expected and to uncover any potential issues. These range from unit tests that check individual components of the code to integration tests that ensure the pieces work well together. Validation, on the other hand, ensures that the solution not only works but also fulfills the intended requirements and objectives.

Explore verified tech roles & skills.

The definitive directory of tech roles, backed by machine learning and skills intelligence.

Explore all roles

Evaluating Problem-Solving Skills

We’ve examined the importance of problem-solving in the work of a software engineer and explored various techniques software engineers employ to approach complex challenges. Now, let’s delve into how hiring teams can identify and evaluate problem-solving skills during the hiring process.

Recognizing Problem-Solving Skills in Candidates

How can you tell if a candidate is a good problem solver? Look for these indicators:

  • Previous Experience: A history of dealing with complex, challenging projects is often a good sign. Ask the candidate to discuss a difficult problem they faced in a previous role and how they solved it.
  • Problem-Solving Questions: During interviews, pose hypothetical scenarios or present real problems your company has faced. Ask candidates to explain how they would tackle these issues. You’re not just looking for a correct solution but the thought process that led them there.
  • Technical Tests: Coding challenges and other technical tests can provide insight into a candidate’s problem-solving abilities. Consider leveraging a platform for assessing these skills in a realistic, job-related context.

Assessing Problem-Solving Skills

Once you’ve identified potential problem solvers, here are a few ways you can assess their skills:

  • Solution Effectiveness: Did the candidate solve the problem? How efficient and effective is their solution?
  • Approach and Process: Go beyond whether or not they solved the problem and examine how they arrived at their solution. Did they break the problem down into manageable parts? Did they consider different perspectives and possibilities?
  • Communication: A good problem solver can explain their thought process clearly. Can the candidate effectively communicate how they arrived at their solution and why they chose it?
  • Adaptability: Problem-solving often involves a degree of trial and error. How does the candidate handle roadblocks? Do they adapt their approach based on new information or feedback?

Hiring managers play a crucial role in identifying and fostering problem-solving skills within their teams. By focusing on these abilities during the hiring process, companies can build teams that are more capable, innovative, and resilient.

Key Takeaways

As you can see, problem solving plays a pivotal role in software engineering. Far from being an occasional requirement, it is the lifeblood that drives development forward, catalyzes innovation, and delivers of quality software. 

By leveraging problem-solving techniques, software engineers employ a powerful suite of strategies to overcome complex challenges. But mastering these techniques isn’t simple feat. It requires a learning mindset, regular practice, collaboration, reflective thinking, resilience, and a commitment to staying updated with industry trends. 

For hiring managers and team leads, recognizing these skills and fostering a culture that values and nurtures problem solving is key. It’s this emphasis on problem solving that can differentiate an average team from a high-performing one and an ordinary product from an industry-leading one.

At the end of the day, software engineering is fundamentally about solving problems — problems that matter to businesses, to users, and to the wider society. And it’s the proficient problem solvers who stand at the forefront of this dynamic field, turning challenges into opportunities, and ideas into reality.

This article was written with the help of AI. Can you tell which parts?

Get started with HackerRank

Over 2,500 companies and 40% of developers worldwide use HackerRank to hire tech talent and sharpen their skills.

Recommended topics

  • Hire Developers
  • Problem Solving

Abstract, futuristic image generated by AI

Does a College Degree Still Matter for Developers in 2024?

Problem Solving

Foundations course, introduction.

Before we start digging into some pretty nifty JavaScript, we need to begin talking about problem solving : the most important skill a developer needs.

Problem solving is the core thing software developers do. The programming languages and tools they use are secondary to this fundamental skill.

From his book, “Think Like a Programmer” , V. Anton Spraul defines problem solving in programming as:

Problem solving is writing an original program that performs a particular set of tasks and meets all stated constraints.

The set of tasks can range from solving small coding exercises all the way up to building a social network site like Facebook or a search engine like Google. Each problem has its own set of constraints, for example, high performance and scalability may not matter too much in a coding exercise but it will be vital in apps like Google that need to service billions of search queries each day.

New programmers often find problem solving the hardest skill to build. It’s not uncommon for budding programmers to breeze through learning syntax and programming concepts, yet when trying to code something on their own, they find themselves staring blankly at their text editor not knowing where to start.

The best way to improve your problem solving ability is by building experience by making lots and lots of programs. The more practice you have the better you’ll be prepared to solve real world problems.

In this lesson we will walk through a few techniques that can be used to help with the problem solving process.

Lesson overview

This section contains a general overview of topics that you will learn in this lesson.

  • Explain the three steps in the problem solving process.
  • Explain what pseudocode is and be able to use it to solve problems.
  • Be able to break a problem down into subproblems.

Understand the problem

The first step to solving a problem is understanding exactly what the problem is. If you don’t understand the problem, you won’t know when you’ve successfully solved it and may waste a lot of time on a wrong solution .

To gain clarity and understanding of the problem, write it down on paper, reword it in plain English until it makes sense to you, and draw diagrams if that helps. When you can explain the problem to someone else in plain English, you understand it.

Now that you know what you’re aiming to solve, don’t jump into coding just yet. It’s time to plan out how you’re going to solve it first. Some of the questions you should answer at this stage of the process:

  • Does your program have a user interface? What will it look like? What functionality will the interface have? Sketch this out on paper.
  • What inputs will your program have? Will the user enter data or will you get input from somewhere else?
  • What’s the desired output?
  • Given your inputs, what are the steps necessary to return the desired output?

The last question is where you will write out an algorithm to solve the problem. You can think of an algorithm as a recipe for solving a particular problem. It defines the steps that need to be taken by the computer to solve a problem in pseudocode.

Pseudocode is writing out the logic for your program in natural language instead of code. It helps you slow down and think through the steps your program will have to go through to solve the problem.

Here’s an example of what the pseudocode for a program that prints all numbers up to an inputted number might look like:

This is a basic program to demonstrate how pseudocode looks. There will be more examples of pseudocode included in the assignments.

Divide and conquer

From your planning, you should have identified some subproblems of the big problem you’re solving. Each of the steps in the algorithm we wrote out in the last section are subproblems. Pick the smallest or simplest one and start there with coding.

It’s important to remember that you might not know all the steps that you might need up front, so your algorithm may be incomplete -— this is fine. Getting started with and solving one of the subproblems you have identified in the planning stage often reveals the next subproblem you can work on. Or, if you already know the next subproblem, it’s often simpler with the first subproblem solved.

Many beginners try to solve the big problem in one go. Don’t do this . If the problem is sufficiently complex, you’ll get yourself tied in knots and make life a lot harder for yourself. Decomposing problems into smaller and easier to solve subproblems is a much better approach. Decomposition is the main way to deal with complexity, making problems easier and more approachable to solve and understand.

In short, break the big problem down and solve each of the smaller problems until you’ve solved the big problem.

Solving Fizz Buzz

To demonstrate this workflow in action, let’s solve Fizz Buzz

Understanding the problem

Write a program that takes a user’s input and prints the numbers from one to the number the user entered. However, for multiples of three print Fizz instead of the number and for the multiples of five print Buzz . For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print FizzBuzz .

This is the big picture problem we will be solving. But we can always make it clearer by rewording it.

Write a program that allows the user to enter a number, print each number between one and the number the user entered, but for numbers that divide by 3 without a remainder print Fizz instead. For numbers that divide by 5 without a remainder print Buzz and finally for numbers that divide by both 3 and 5 without a remainder print FizzBuzz .

Does your program have an interface? What will it look like? Our FizzBuzz solution will be a browser console program, so we don’t need an interface. The only user interaction will be allowing users to enter a number.

What inputs will your program have? Will the user enter data or will you get input from somewhere else? The user will enter a number from a prompt (popup box).

What’s the desired output? The desired output is a list of numbers from 1 to the number the user entered. But each number that is divisible by 3 will output Fizz , each number that is divisible by 5 will output Buzz and each number that is divisible by both 3 and 5 will output FizzBuzz .

Writing the pseudocode

What are the steps necessary to return the desired output? Here is an algorithm in pseudocode for this problem:

Dividing and conquering

As we can see from the algorithm we developed, the first subproblem we can solve is getting input from the user. So let’s start there and verify it works by printing the entered number.

With JavaScript, we’ll use the “prompt” method.

The above code should create a little popup box that asks the user for a number. The input we get back will be stored in our variable answer .

We wrapped the prompt call in a parseInt function so that a number is returned from the user’s input.

With that done, let’s move on to the next subproblem: “Loop from 1 to the entered number”. There are many ways to do this in JavaScript. One of the common ways - that you actually see in many other languages like Java, C++, and Ruby - is with the for loop :

If you haven’t seen this before and it looks strange, it’s actually straightforward. We declare a variable i and assign it 1: the initial value of the variable i in our loop. The second clause, i <= answer is our condition. We want to loop until i is greater than answer . The third clause, i++ , tells our loop to increment i by 1 every iteration. As a result, if the user inputs 10, this loop would print numbers 1 - 10 to the console.

Most of the time, programmers find themselves looping from 0. Due to the needs of our program, we’re starting from 1

With that working, let’s move on to the next problem: If the current number is divisible by 3, then print Fizz .

We are using the modulus operator ( % ) here to divide the current number by three. If you recall from a previous lesson, the modulus operator returns the remainder of a division. So if a remainder of 0 is returned from the division, it means the current number is divisible by 3.

After this change the program will now output this when you run it and the user inputs 10:

The program is starting to take shape. The final few subproblems should be easy to solve as the basic structure is in place and they are just different variations of the condition we’ve already got in place. Let’s tackle the next one: If the current number is divisible by 5 then print Buzz .

When you run the program now, you should see this output if the user inputs 10:

We have one more subproblem to solve to complete the program: If the current number is divisible by 3 and 5 then print FizzBuzz .

We’ve had to move the conditionals around a little to get it to work. The first condition now checks if i is divisible by 3 and 5 instead of checking if i is just divisible by 3. We’ve had to do this because if we kept it the way it was, it would run the first condition if (i % 3 === 0) , so that if i was divisible by 3, it would print Fizz and then move on to the next number in the iteration, even if i was divisible by 5 as well.

With the condition if (i % 3 === 0 && i % 5 === 0) coming first, we check that i is divisible by both 3 and 5 before moving on to check if it is divisible by 3 or 5 individually in the else if conditions.

The program is now complete! If you run it now you should get this output when the user inputs 20:

  • Read How to Think Like a Programmer - Lessons in Problem Solving by Richard Reis.
  • Watch How to Begin Thinking Like a Programmer by Coding Tech. It’s an hour long but packed full of information and definitely worth your time watching.
  • Read this Pseudocode: What It Is and How to Write It article from Built In.

Knowledge check

The following questions are an opportunity to reflect on key topics in this lesson. If you can’t answer a question, click on it to review the material, but keep in mind you are not expected to memorize or master this knowledge.

  • What are the three stages in the problem solving process?
  • Why is it important to clearly understand the problem first?
  • What can you do to help get a clearer understanding of the problem?
  • What are some of the things you should do in the planning stage of the problem solving process?
  • What is an algorithm?
  • What is pseudocode?
  • What are the advantages of breaking a problem down and solving the smaller problems?

Additional resources

This section contains helpful links to related content. It isn’t required, so consider it supplemental.

  • Read the first chapter in Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving ( not free ). This book’s examples are in C++, but you will understand everything since the main idea of the book is to teach programmers to better solve problems. It’s an amazing book and worth every penny. It will make you a better programmer.
  • Watch this video on repetitive programming techniques .
  • Watch Jonathan Blow on solving hard problems where he gives sage advice on how to approach problem solving in software projects.

Support us!

The odin project is funded by the community. join us in empowering learners around the globe by supporting the odin project.

Tutorial Playlist

Programming tutorial, your guide to the best backend languages for 2024, an ultimate guide that helps you to start learn coding 2024, what is backend development: the ultimate guide for beginners, all you need to know for choosing the first programming language to learn, here’s all you need to know about coding, decoding, and reasoning with examples, understanding what is xml: the best guide to xml and its concepts., an ultimate guide to learn the importance of low-code and no-code development, top frontend languages that you should know about, top 75+ frontend developer interview questions and answers, the ultimate guide to learn typescript generics, the most comprehensive guide for beginners to know ‘what is typescript’.

The Ultimate Guide on Introduction to Competitive Programming

Top 60+ TCS NQT Interview Questions and Answers for 2024

Most commonly asked logical reasoning questions in an aptitude test, everything you need to know about advanced typescript concepts, an absolute guide to build c hello world program, a one-stop solution guide to learn how to create a game in unity, what is nat significance of nat for translating ip addresses in the network model, data science vs software engineering: key differences, a real-time chat application typescript project using node.js as a server, what is raspberry pi here’s the best guide to get started, what is arduino here’s the best beginners guide to get started, arduino vs. raspberry pi: which is the better board, the perfect guide for all you need to learn about mean stack, software developer resume: a comprehensive guide, here’s everything all you need to know about the programming roadmap, an ultimate guide that helps you to develop and improve problem solving in programming, the top 10 awesome arduino projects of all time, roles of product managers, pyspark rdd: everything you need to know about pyspark rdd, wipro interview questions and answers that you should know before going for an interview, how to use typescript with nodejs: the ultimate guide, what is rust programming language why is it so popular, software terminologies, an ultimate guide that helps you to develop and improve problem solving in programming.

Lesson 27 of 34 By Hemant Deshpande

An Ultimate Guide That Helps You to Develop and Improve Problem Solving in Programming

Table of Contents

Coding and Programming skills hold a significant and critical role in implementing and developing various technologies and software. They add more value to the future and development. These programming and coding skills are essential for every person to improve problem solving skills. So, we brought you this article to help you learn and know the importance of these skills in the future. 

Want a Top Software Development Job? Start Here!

Want a Top Software Development Job? Start Here!

Topics covered in this problem solving in programming article are:

  • What is Problem Solving in Programming? 
  • Problem Solving skills in Programming
  • How does it impact your career ?
  • Steps involved in Problem Solving
  • Steps to improve Problem Solving in programming

What is Problem Solving in Programming?

Computers are used to solve various problems in day-to-day life. Problem Solving is an essential skill that helps to solve problems in programming. There are specific steps to be carried out to solve problems in computer programming, and the success depends on how correctly and precisely we define a problem. This involves designing, identifying and implementing problems using certain steps to develop a computer.

When we know what exactly problem solving in programming is, let us learn how it impacts your career growth.

How Does It Impact Your Career?

Many companies look for candidates with excellent problem solving skills. These skills help people manage the work and make candidates put more effort into the work, which results in finding solutions for complex problems in unexpected situations. These skills also help to identify quick solutions when they arise and are identified. 

People with great problem solving skills also possess more thinking and analytical skills, which makes them much more successful and confident in their career and able to work in any kind of environment. 

The above section gives you an idea of how problem solving in programming impacts your career and growth. Now, let's understand what problem solving skills mean.

Problem Solving Skills in Programming

Solving a question that is related to computers is more complicated than finding the solutions for other questions. It requires excellent knowledge and much thinking power. Problem solving in programming skills is much needed for a person and holds a major advantage. For every question, there are specific steps to be followed to get a perfect solution. By using those steps, it is possible to find a solution quickly.

The above section is covered with an explanation of problem solving in programming skills. Now let's learn some steps involved in problem solving.

Steps Involved in Problem Solving

Before being ready to solve a problem, there are some steps and procedures to be followed to find the solution. Let's have a look at them in this problem solving in programming article.

Basically, they are divided into four categories:

  • Analysing the problem
  • Developing the algorithm
  • Testing and debugging

Analysing the Problem

Every problem has a perfect solution; before we are ready to solve a problem, we must look over the question and understand it. When we know the question, it is easy to find the solution for it. If we are not ready with what we have to solve, then we end up with the question and cannot find the answer as expected. By analysing it, we can figure out the outputs and inputs to be carried out. Thus, when we analyse and are ready with the list, it is easy and helps us find the solution easily. 

Developing the Algorithm

It is required to decide a solution before writing a program. The procedure of representing the solution  in a natural language called an algorithm. We must design, develop and decide the final approach after a number of trials and errors, before actually writing the final code on an algorithm before we write the code. It captures and refines all the aspects of the desired solution.

Once we finalise the algorithm, we must convert the decided algorithm into a code or program using a dedicated programming language that is understandable by the computer to find a desired solution. In this stage, a wide variety of programming languages are used to convert the algorithm into code. 

Testing and Debugging

The designed and developed program undergoes several rigorous tests based on various real-time parameters and the program undergoes various levels of simulations. It must meet the user's requirements, which have to respond with the required time. It should generate all expected outputs to all the possible inputs. The program should also undergo bug fixing and all possible exception handling. If it fails to show the possible results, it should be checked for logical errors.

Industries follow some testing methods like system testing, component testing and acceptance testing while developing complex applications. The errors identified while testing are debugged or rectified and tested again until all errors are removed from the program.

The steps mentioned above are involved in problem solving in programming. Now let's see some more detailed information about the steps to improve problem solving in programming.

Steps to Improve Problem Solving in Programming

Right mindset.

The way to approach problems is the key to improving the skills. To find a solution, a positive mindset helps to solve problems quickly. If you think something is impossible, then it is hard to achieve. When you feel free and focus with a positive attitude, even complex problems will have a perfect solution.

Making Right Decisions

When we need to solve a problem, we must be clear with the solution. The perfect solution helps to get success in a shorter period. Making the right decisions in the right situation helps to find the perfect solution quickly and efficiently. These skills also help to get more command over the subject.

Keeping Ideas on Track

Ideas always help much in improving the skills; they also help to gain more knowledge and more command over things. In problem solving situations, these ideas help much and help to develop more skills. Give opportunities for the mind and keep on noting the ideas.

Learning from Feedbacks

A crucial part of learning is from the feedback. Mistakes help you to gain more knowledge and have much growth. When you have a solution for a problem, go for the feedback from the experienced or the professionals. It helps you get success within a shorter period and enables you to find other solutions easily.

Asking Questions

Questions are an incredible part of life. While searching for solutions, there are a lot of questions that arise in our minds. Once you know the question correctly, then you are able to find answers quickly. In coding or programming, we must have a clear idea about the problem. Then, you can find the perfect solution for it. Raising questions can help to understand the problem.

These are a few reasons and tips to improve problem solving in programming skills. Now let's see some major benefits in this article.

  • Problem solving in programming skills helps to gain more knowledge over coding and programming, which is a major benefit.
  • These problem solving skills also help to develop more skills in a person and build a promising career.
  • These skills also help to find the solutions for critical and complex problems in a perfect way.
  • Learning and developing problem solving in programming helps in building a good foundation.
  • Most of the companies are looking for people with good problem solving skills, and these play an important role when it comes to job opportunities 
Don't miss out on the opportunity to become a Certified Professional with Simplilearn's Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development . Enroll Today!

Problem solving in programming skills is important in this modern world; these skills build a great career and hold a great advantage. This article on problem solving in programming provides you with an idea of how it plays a massive role in the present world. In this problem solving in programming article, the skills and the ways to improve more command on problem solving in programming are mentioned and explained in a proper way.

If you are looking to advance in your career. Simplilearn provides training and certification courses on various programming languages - Python , Java , Javascript , and many more. Check out our Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development course that will help you excel in your career.

If you have any questions for us on the problem solving in programming article. Do let us know in the comments section below; we have our experts answer it right away.

Find our Full Stack Developer - MERN Stack Online Bootcamp in top cities:

About the author.

Hemant Deshpande

Hemant Deshpande, PMP has more than 17 years of experience working for various global MNC's. He has more than 10 years of experience in managing large transformation programs for Fortune 500 clients across verticals such as Banking, Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, Telecom and others. During his career he has worked across the geographies - North America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Hemant is an internationally Certified Executive Coach (CCA/ICF Approved) working with corporate leaders. He also provides Management Consulting and Training services. He is passionate about writing and regularly blogs and writes content for top websites. His motto in life - Making a positive difference.

Recommended Resources

Your One-Stop Solution to Understand Coin Change Problem

Your One-Stop Solution to Understand Coin Change Problem

Combating the Global Talent Shortage Through Skill Development Programs

Combating the Global Talent Shortage Through Skill Development Programs

What Is Problem Solving? Steps, Techniques, and Best Practices Explained

What Is Problem Solving? Steps, Techniques, and Best Practices Explained

One Stop Solution to All the Dynamic Programming Problems

One Stop Solution to All the Dynamic Programming Problems

The Ultimate Guide on Introduction to Competitive Programming

The Ultimate Guide to Top Front End and Back End Programming Languages for 2021

  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Our site is BRAND NEW . Using our creative problem-solving skills we have repositioned ourselves. FPSPI is now using the Future Problem Solving name. A new cleaner look. More content. Easier navigation. More upgrades to come!

Future Problem Solving logo

Global Issues

Community projects, creative writing, storytelling, problem-solving method, real world issues, future scenarios.

  • Authentic Assessments

5Cs of Learning

  • Youth Protection
  • DEIB Commitment
  • International Conference
  • Find FPS Near Me
  • Partner With Us

Future Problem Solving

Future-Ready

Discover our education programs, world finals​ june 5-9, 2024.

Join us at our International Conference to celebrate 50 years. At Indiana University Bloomington this year, our highest level competition brings together thousands of champion problem solvers.

Ready for work, life, and to create a better future

Our proven educational outcomes are life changing for students. We prepare young people to find solutions, take relevant action, and be a force for positive change. Our model ignites curiosity in real world issues and equips students with complex problem-solving skills. Once learned, these skills ensure students are ready to succeed in their classes today and in their work and life tomorrow. And in the age of AI, it’s more important than ever to make sure young people learn how to think and solve problems.

As our world and educators are confronted with a range of unprecedented challenges, Future Problem Solving helps students keep pace. Our standard-based and skill-based programs meaningfully engage young people in all the places and spaces they learn. With Future Problem Solving, students learn how to think, not what to think, and gain lifelong learning skills.

program for problem solving

Our Competition Programs

Problem-solving skills stay for life, k-12 students each year, states within the u.s., countries around the world, years of equipping problem-solvers, our approach, building student agency.

brainstorming tool written on paper

Our proven 6-step process equips students with a problem-solving model to develop relevant action plans for any situation.

problem-solving students from Illinois holding sign

Our problem-solving situations highlight important challenges from business, civics, science, society, and technology.

problem-solving student with his community projects display

Authentic Assessment

Our rubric-based evaluations provide learner-focused feedback to assess student learning and strengthen important skills.

problem-solving student ready for her future solution skit

Our future scenes are imagined storylines that present creative and futuristic problems to solve with current topic information.

junior student hands on challenge with stacking cups

Our interdisciplinary problem-solving process infuses important 21st Century Learning skills throughout all our programs.

Australia Problem Solving students attending International Conference

Global Network

Our global community features passionate, dedicated, and successful students, educators, affiliates, alumni, supporters, and more.

Testimonials

The future we want.

program for problem solving

Our Topic Center

Real issues engage and inspire learning.

view of hazy air and skyline through clouds

Air Quality

How will the quality of air, a globally shared resource essential for human health and prosperity, impact us in the future?

AI futuristic brain and technology graphic

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

How will the emerging uses of artificial intelligence (AI) impact how we work, live, play, and learn in the future?

variety of currency dollars euros yen

How will emerging technologies and changing economies impact how the world uses currency in the future?

kids with trash bags

Throwaway Society

How will “throw-away” consumerism impact the environment, businesses, and consumers in the future?

program for problem solving

Future Problem Solving Students – A Five Year Study

A comparison of reading and mathematics performance between students participating in a future problem solving program and nonparticipants.

Data from the The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) was collected by Grandview Middle School and provided to Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. for statistical analysis.

Findings reported by Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. Performance data on the MCA was collected from 2010-2014 for students in grade 6 at Grandview Middle School in Mound, MN (Westonka Public School District). Students were identified as either FPS: students participating in a Future Problem Solving program, or Non-FPS: students not participating in the program. Summary statistics using Reading and Mathematics Scaled Scores were developed for each group of students by year and across years. To determine if the mean scores across the years were significantly different, t-tests were used. A Cohen’s d test was then performed to measure the effect of the size of the found differences.

In all cases, students participating in the Future Problem Solving Program performed significantly higher on the MCA in both areas of Mathematics and Reading.

program for problem solving

Effects of Group Training in Problem-Solving Style on Future Problem-Solving Performance

The journal of creative behavior (jcb) of the creative education foundation.

Seventy-five participants from one suburban high school formed 21 teams with 3–4 members each for Future Problem Solving (FPS). Students were selected to participate in either the regular FPS or an enhanced FPS, where multiple group training activities grounded in problem-solving style were incorporated into a 9-week treatment period.

An ANCOVA procedure was used to examine the difference in team responses to a creative problem-solving scenario for members of each group, after accounting for initial differences in creative problem-solving performance, years of experience in FPS, and creative thinking related to fluency, flexibility, and originality. The ANCOVA resulted in a significant difference in problem-solving performance in favor of students in the treatment group (F(1, 57) = 8.21, p = .006, partial eta squared = .126, medium), while there were no significant differences in years of experience or creativity scores. This result led researchers to conclude that students in both groups had equivalent creative ability and that participation in the group activities emphasizing problem-solving style significantly contributed to creative performance.

In the comparison group, a total of 47% had scores that qualified for entry to the state competition. In contrast, 89% of the students in the treatment group had scores that qualified them for the state bowl. None of the teams from the comparison group qualified for the international competition, while two teams from the treatment group were selected, with one earning sixth place.

The results of this study suggest that problem-solving performance by team members can be improved through direct instruction in problem-solving style, particularly when there is a focus on group dynamics.

The Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 0, Iss. 0, pp. 1–12 © 2017 by the Creative Education Foundation, Inc. DOI: 10.1002/jocb.176

program for problem solving

Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study

“how important was future problem solving in the development of your following skill sets”.

In 2011, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia submitted a report titled “Future Problem Solving Program International—Second Generation Study.” (Callahan, Alimin, & Uguz, 2012). The study, based on a survey, collected data from over 150 Future Problem Solving alumni to understand the impact of their participation in Future Problem Solving as students or volunteers.

Percentage of Alumni Rating Important and Extremely Important in Developing Skill Sets

  • 96% Look at the “Big Picture”
  • 93% Critical Thinking
  • 93% Teamwork and Collaboration
  • 93% Identify and Solve Problems
  • 93% Time Management
  • 90% Researching
  • 90% Evaluation and Decision Making
  • 86% Creativity and Innovation
  • 86% Written Communication

The report captured alumni’s positive experiences as students in Future Problem Solving and documented that the alumni continued to utilize the FPS-structured approach to solving problems in their adult lives.

program for problem solving

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in gifted education. She earned the National Board certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board assessor for the certification of others. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for the state of Florida’s certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education. Beyond her U.S. education credentials, she has been trained for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem-solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.

How to improve your problem solving skills and build effective problem solving strategies

program for problem solving

Design your next session with SessionLab

Join the 150,000+ facilitators 
using SessionLab.

Recommended Articles

A step-by-step guide to planning a workshop, how to create an unforgettable training session in 8 simple steps, 47 useful online tools for workshop planning and meeting facilitation.

Effective problem solving is all about using the right process and following a plan tailored to the issue at hand. Recognizing your team or organization has an issue isn’t enough to come up with effective problem solving strategies. 

To truly understand a problem and develop appropriate solutions, you will want to follow a solid process, follow the necessary problem solving steps, and bring all of your problem solving skills to the table.  

We’ll first guide you through the seven step problem solving process you and your team can use to effectively solve complex business challenges. We’ll also look at what problem solving strategies you can employ with your team when looking for a way to approach the process. We’ll then discuss the problem solving skills you need to be more effective at solving problems, complete with an activity from the SessionLab library you can use to develop that skill in your team.

Let’s get to it! 

What is a problem solving process?

  • What are the problem solving steps I need to follow?

Problem solving strategies

What skills do i need to be an effective problem solver, how can i improve my problem solving skills.

Solving problems is like baking a cake. You can go straight into the kitchen without a recipe or the right ingredients and do your best, but the end result is unlikely to be very tasty!

Using a process to bake a cake allows you to use the best ingredients without waste, collect the right tools, account for allergies, decide whether it is a birthday or wedding cake, and then bake efficiently and on time. The result is a better cake that is fit for purpose, tastes better and has created less mess in the kitchen. Also, it should have chocolate sprinkles. Having a step by step process to solve organizational problems allows you to go through each stage methodically and ensure you are trying to solve the right problems and select the most appropriate, effective solutions.

What are the problem solving steps I need to follow? 

All problem solving processes go through a number of steps in order to move from identifying a problem to resolving it.

Depending on your problem solving model and who you ask, there can be anything between four and nine problem solving steps you should follow in order to find the right solution. Whatever framework you and your group use, there are some key items that should be addressed in order to have an effective process.

We’ve looked at problem solving processes from sources such as the American Society for Quality and their four step approach , and Mediate ‘s six step process. By reflecting on those and our own problem solving processes, we’ve come up with a sequence of seven problem solving steps we feel best covers everything you need in order to effectively solve problems.

seven step problem solving process

1. Problem identification 

The first stage of any problem solving process is to identify the problem or problems you might want to solve. Effective problem solving strategies always begin by allowing a group scope to articulate what they believe the problem to be and then coming to some consensus over which problem they approach first. Problem solving activities used at this stage often have a focus on creating frank, open discussion so that potential problems can be brought to the surface.

2. Problem analysis 

Though this step is not a million miles from problem identification, problem analysis deserves to be considered separately. It can often be an overlooked part of the process and is instrumental when it comes to developing effective solutions.

The process of problem analysis means ensuring that the problem you are seeking to solve is the right problem . As part of this stage, you may look deeper and try to find the root cause of a specific problem at a team or organizational level.

Remember that problem solving strategies should not only be focused on putting out fires in the short term but developing long term solutions that deal with the root cause of organizational challenges. 

Whatever your approach, analyzing a problem is crucial in being able to select an appropriate solution and the problem solving skills deployed in this stage are beneficial for the rest of the process and ensuring the solutions you create are fit for purpose.

3. Solution generation

Once your group has nailed down the particulars of the problem you wish to solve, you want to encourage a free flow of ideas connecting to solving that problem. This can take the form of problem solving games that encourage creative thinking or problem solving activities designed to produce working prototypes of possible solutions. 

The key to ensuring the success of this stage of the problem solving process is to encourage quick, creative thinking and create an open space where all ideas are considered. The best solutions can come from unlikely places and by using problem solving techniques that celebrate invention, you might come up with solution gold. 

4. Solution development

No solution is likely to be perfect right out of the gate. It’s important to discuss and develop the solutions your group has come up with over the course of following the previous problem solving steps in order to arrive at the best possible solution. Problem solving games used in this stage involve lots of critical thinking, measuring potential effort and impact, and looking at possible solutions analytically. 

During this stage, you will often ask your team to iterate and improve upon your frontrunning solutions and develop them further. Remember that problem solving strategies always benefit from a multitude of voices and opinions, and not to let ego get involved when it comes to choosing which solutions to develop and take further.

Finding the best solution is the goal of all problem solving workshops and here is the place to ensure that your solution is well thought out, sufficiently robust and fit for purpose. 

5. Decision making 

Nearly there! Once your group has reached consensus and selected a solution that applies to the problem at hand you have some decisions to make. You will want to work on allocating ownership of the project, figure out who will do what, how the success of the solution will be measured and decide the next course of action.

The decision making stage is a part of the problem solving process that can get missed or taken as for granted. Fail to properly allocate roles and plan out how a solution will actually be implemented and it less likely to be successful in solving the problem.

Have clear accountabilities, actions, timeframes, and follow-ups. Make these decisions and set clear next-steps in the problem solving workshop so that everyone is aligned and you can move forward effectively as a group. 

Ensuring that you plan for the roll-out of a solution is one of the most important problem solving steps. Without adequate planning or oversight, it can prove impossible to measure success or iterate further if the problem was not solved. 

6. Solution implementation 

This is what we were waiting for! All problem solving strategies have the end goal of implementing a solution and solving a problem in mind. 

Remember that in order for any solution to be successful, you need to help your group through all of the previous problem solving steps thoughtfully. Only then can you ensure that you are solving the right problem but also that you have developed the correct solution and can then successfully implement and measure the impact of that solution.

Project management and communication skills are key here – your solution may need to adjust when out in the wild or you might discover new challenges along the way.

7. Solution evaluation 

So you and your team developed a great solution to a problem and have a gut feeling its been solved. Work done, right? Wrong. All problem solving strategies benefit from evaluation, consideration, and feedback. You might find that the solution does not work for everyone, might create new problems, or is potentially so successful that you will want to roll it out to larger teams or as part of other initiatives. 

None of that is possible without taking the time to evaluate the success of the solution you developed in your problem solving model and adjust if necessary.

Remember that the problem solving process is often iterative and it can be common to not solve complex issues on the first try. Even when this is the case, you and your team will have generated learning that will be important for future problem solving workshops or in other parts of the organization. 

It’s worth underlining how important record keeping is throughout the problem solving process. If a solution didn’t work, you need to have the data and records to see why that was the case. If you go back to the drawing board, notes from the previous workshop can help save time. Data and insight is invaluable at every stage of the problem solving process and this one is no different.

Problem solving workshops made easy

program for problem solving

Problem solving strategies are methods of approaching and facilitating the process of problem-solving with a set of techniques , actions, and processes. Different strategies are more effective if you are trying to solve broad problems such as achieving higher growth versus more focused problems like, how do we improve our customer onboarding process?

Broadly, the problem solving steps outlined above should be included in any problem solving strategy though choosing where to focus your time and what approaches should be taken is where they begin to differ. You might find that some strategies ask for the problem identification to be done prior to the session or that everything happens in the course of a one day workshop.

The key similarity is that all good problem solving strategies are structured and designed. Four hours of open discussion is never going to be as productive as a four-hour workshop designed to lead a group through a problem solving process.

Good problem solving strategies are tailored to the team, organization and problem you will be attempting to solve. Here are some example problem solving strategies you can learn from or use to get started.

Use a workshop to lead a team through a group process

Often, the first step to solving problems or organizational challenges is bringing a group together effectively. Most teams have the tools, knowledge, and expertise necessary to solve their challenges – they just need some guidance in how to use leverage those skills and a structure and format that allows people to focus their energies.

Facilitated workshops are one of the most effective ways of solving problems of any scale. By designing and planning your workshop carefully, you can tailor the approach and scope to best fit the needs of your team and organization. 

Problem solving workshop

  • Creating a bespoke, tailored process
  • Tackling problems of any size
  • Building in-house workshop ability and encouraging their use

Workshops are an effective strategy for solving problems. By using tried and test facilitation techniques and methods, you can design and deliver a workshop that is perfectly suited to the unique variables of your organization. You may only have the capacity for a half-day workshop and so need a problem solving process to match. 

By using our session planner tool and importing methods from our library of 700+ facilitation techniques, you can create the right problem solving workshop for your team. It might be that you want to encourage creative thinking or look at things from a new angle to unblock your groups approach to problem solving. By tailoring your workshop design to the purpose, you can help ensure great results.

One of the main benefits of a workshop is the structured approach to problem solving. Not only does this mean that the workshop itself will be successful, but many of the methods and techniques will help your team improve their working processes outside of the workshop. 

We believe that workshops are one of the best tools you can use to improve the way your team works together. Start with a problem solving workshop and then see what team building, culture or design workshops can do for your organization!

Run a design sprint

Great for: 

  • aligning large, multi-discipline teams
  • quickly designing and testing solutions
  • tackling large, complex organizational challenges and breaking them down into smaller tasks

By using design thinking principles and methods, a design sprint is a great way of identifying, prioritizing and prototyping solutions to long term challenges that can help solve major organizational problems with quick action and measurable results.

Some familiarity with design thinking is useful, though not integral, and this strategy can really help a team align if there is some discussion around which problems should be approached first. 

The stage-based structure of the design sprint is also very useful for teams new to design thinking.  The inspiration phase, where you look to competitors that have solved your problem, and the rapid prototyping and testing phases are great for introducing new concepts that will benefit a team in all their future work. 

It can be common for teams to look inward for solutions and so looking to the market for solutions you can iterate on can be very productive. Instilling an agile prototyping and testing mindset can also be great when helping teams move forwards – generating and testing solutions quickly can help save time in the long run and is also pretty exciting!

Break problems down into smaller issues

Organizational challenges and problems are often complicated and large scale in nature. Sometimes, trying to resolve such an issue in one swoop is simply unachievable or overwhelming. Try breaking down such problems into smaller issues that you can work on step by step. You may not be able to solve the problem of churning customers off the bat, but you can work with your team to identify smaller effort but high impact elements and work on those first.

This problem solving strategy can help a team generate momentum, prioritize and get some easy wins. It’s also a great strategy to employ with teams who are just beginning to learn how to approach the problem solving process. If you want some insight into a way to employ this strategy, we recommend looking at our design sprint template below!

Use guiding frameworks or try new methodologies

Some problems are best solved by introducing a major shift in perspective or by using new methodologies that encourage your team to think differently.

Props and tools such as Methodkit , which uses a card-based toolkit for facilitation, or Lego Serious Play can be great ways to engage your team and find an inclusive, democratic problem solving strategy. Remember that play and creativity are great tools for achieving change and whatever the challenge, engaging your participants can be very effective where other strategies may have failed.

LEGO Serious Play

  • Improving core problem solving skills
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Encouraging creative solutions

LEGO Serious Play is a problem solving methodology designed to get participants thinking differently by using 3D models and kinesthetic learning styles. By physically building LEGO models based on questions and exercises, participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and create their own responses. 

Collaborate LEGO Serious Play exercises are also used to encourage communication and build problem solving skills in a group. By using this problem solving process, you can often help different kinds of learners and personality types contribute and unblock organizational problems with creative thinking. 

Problem solving strategies like LEGO Serious Play are super effective at helping a team solve more skills-based problems such as communication between teams or a lack of creative thinking. Some problems are not suited to LEGO Serious Play and require a different problem solving strategy.

Card Decks and Method Kits

  • New facilitators or non-facilitators 
  • Approaching difficult subjects with a simple, creative framework
  • Engaging those with varied learning styles

Card decks and method kids are great tools for those new to facilitation or for whom facilitation is not the primary role. Card decks such as the emotional culture deck can be used for complete workshops and in many cases, can be used right out of the box. Methodkit has a variety of kits designed for scenarios ranging from personal development through to personas and global challenges so you can find the right deck for your particular needs.

Having an easy to use framework that encourages creativity or a new approach can take some of the friction or planning difficulties out of the workshop process and energize a team in any setting. Simplicity is the key with these methods. By ensuring everyone on your team can get involved and engage with the process as quickly as possible can really contribute to the success of your problem solving strategy.

Source external advice

Looking to peers, experts and external facilitators can be a great way of approaching the problem solving process. Your team may not have the necessary expertise, insights of experience to tackle some issues, or you might simply benefit from a fresh perspective. Some problems may require bringing together an entire team, and coaching managers or team members individually might be the right approach. Remember that not all problems are best resolved in the same manner.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur, peer groups, coaches and mentors can also be invaluable at not only solving specific business problems, but in providing a support network for resolving future challenges. One great approach is to join a Mastermind Group and link up with like-minded individuals and all grow together. Remember that however you approach the sourcing of external advice, do so thoughtfully, respectfully and honestly. Reciprocate where you can and prepare to be surprised by just how kind and helpful your peers can be!

Mastermind Group

  • Solo entrepreneurs or small teams with low capacity
  • Peer learning and gaining outside expertise
  • Getting multiple external points of view quickly

Problem solving in large organizations with lots of skilled team members is one thing, but how about if you work for yourself or in a very small team without the capacity to get the most from a design sprint or LEGO Serious Play session? 

A mastermind group – sometimes known as a peer advisory board – is where a group of people come together to support one another in their own goals, challenges, and businesses. Each participant comes to the group with their own purpose and the other members of the group will help them create solutions, brainstorm ideas, and support one another. 

Mastermind groups are very effective in creating an energized, supportive atmosphere that can deliver meaningful results. Learning from peers from outside of your organization or industry can really help unlock new ways of thinking and drive growth. Access to the experience and skills of your peers can be invaluable in helping fill the gaps in your own ability, particularly in young companies.

A mastermind group is a great solution for solo entrepreneurs, small teams, or for organizations that feel that external expertise or fresh perspectives will be beneficial for them. It is worth noting that Mastermind groups are often only as good as the participants and what they can bring to the group. Participants need to be committed, engaged and understand how to work in this context. 

Coaching and mentoring

  • Focused learning and development
  • Filling skills gaps
  • Working on a range of challenges over time

Receiving advice from a business coach or building a mentor/mentee relationship can be an effective way of resolving certain challenges. The one-to-one format of most coaching and mentor relationships can really help solve the challenges those individuals are having and benefit the organization as a result.

A great mentor can be invaluable when it comes to spotting potential problems before they arise and coming to understand a mentee very well has a host of other business benefits. You might run an internal mentorship program to help develop your team’s problem solving skills and strategies or as part of a large learning and development program. External coaches can also be an important part of your problem solving strategy, filling skills gaps for your management team or helping with specific business issues. 

Now we’ve explored the problem solving process and the steps you will want to go through in order to have an effective session, let’s look at the skills you and your team need to be more effective problem solvers.

Problem solving skills are highly sought after, whatever industry or team you work in. Organizations are keen to employ people who are able to approach problems thoughtfully and find strong, realistic solutions. Whether you are a facilitator , a team leader or a developer, being an effective problem solver is a skill you’ll want to develop.

Problem solving skills form a whole suite of techniques and approaches that an individual uses to not only identify problems but to discuss them productively before then developing appropriate solutions.

Here are some of the most important problem solving skills everyone from executives to junior staff members should learn. We’ve also included an activity or exercise from the SessionLab library that can help you and your team develop that skill. 

If you’re running a workshop or training session to try and improve problem solving skills in your team, try using these methods to supercharge your process!

Problem solving skills checklist

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important skills anyone who works with people can possess. In short, active listening is a technique used to not only better understand what is being said by an individual, but also to be more aware of the underlying message the speaker is trying to convey. When it comes to problem solving, active listening is integral for understanding the position of every participant and to clarify the challenges, ideas and solutions they bring to the table.

Some active listening skills include:

  • Paying complete attention to the speaker.
  • Removing distractions.
  • Avoid interruption.
  • Taking the time to fully understand before preparing a rebuttal.
  • Responding respectfully and appropriately.
  • Demonstrate attentiveness and positivity with an open posture, making eye contact with the speaker, smiling and nodding if appropriate. Show that you are listening and encourage them to continue.
  • Be aware of and respectful of feelings. Judge the situation and respond appropriately. You can disagree without being disrespectful.   
  • Observe body language. 
  • Paraphrase what was said in your own words, either mentally or verbally.
  • Remain neutral. 
  • Reflect and take a moment before responding.
  • Ask deeper questions based on what is said and clarify points where necessary.   
Active Listening   #hyperisland   #skills   #active listening   #remote-friendly   This activity supports participants to reflect on a question and generate their own solutions using simple principles of active listening and peer coaching. It’s an excellent introduction to active listening but can also be used with groups that are already familiar with it. Participants work in groups of three and take turns being: “the subject”, the listener, and the observer.

Analytical skills

All problem solving models require strong analytical skills, particularly during the beginning of the process and when it comes to analyzing how solutions have performed.

Analytical skills are primarily focused on performing an effective analysis by collecting, studying and parsing data related to a problem or opportunity. 

It often involves spotting patterns, being able to see things from different perspectives and using observable facts and data to make suggestions or produce insight. 

Analytical skills are also important at every stage of the problem solving process and by having these skills, you can ensure that any ideas or solutions you create or backed up analytically and have been sufficiently thought out.

Nine Whys   #innovation   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   With breathtaking simplicity, you can rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work. You can quickly reveal when a compelling purpose is missing in a gathering and avoid moving forward without clarity. When a group discovers an unambiguous shared purpose, more freedom and more responsibility are unleashed. You have laid the foundation for spreading and scaling innovations with fidelity.

Collaboration

Trying to solve problems on your own is difficult. Being able to collaborate effectively, with a free exchange of ideas, to delegate and be a productive member of a team is hugely important to all problem solving strategies.

Remember that whatever your role, collaboration is integral, and in a problem solving process, you are all working together to find the best solution for everyone. 

Marshmallow challenge with debriefing   #teamwork   #team   #leadership   #collaboration   In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top. The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world. Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.

Communication  

Being an effective communicator means being empathetic, clear and succinct, asking the right questions, and demonstrating active listening skills throughout any discussion or meeting. 

In a problem solving setting, you need to communicate well in order to progress through each stage of the process effectively. As a team leader, it may also fall to you to facilitate communication between parties who may not see eye to eye. Effective communication also means helping others to express themselves and be heard in a group.

Bus Trip   #feedback   #communication   #appreciation   #closing   #thiagi   #team   This is one of my favourite feedback games. I use Bus Trip at the end of a training session or a meeting, and I use it all the time. The game creates a massive amount of energy with lots of smiles, laughs, and sometimes even a teardrop or two.

Creative problem solving skills can be some of the best tools in your arsenal. Thinking creatively, being able to generate lots of ideas and come up with out of the box solutions is useful at every step of the process. 

The kinds of problems you will likely discuss in a problem solving workshop are often difficult to solve, and by approaching things in a fresh, creative manner, you can often create more innovative solutions.

Having practical creative skills is also a boon when it comes to problem solving. If you can help create quality design sketches and prototypes in record time, it can help bring a team to alignment more quickly or provide a base for further iteration.

The paper clip method   #sharing   #creativity   #warm up   #idea generation   #brainstorming   The power of brainstorming. A training for project leaders, creativity training, and to catalyse getting new solutions.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is one of the fundamental problem solving skills you’ll want to develop when working on developing solutions. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, rationalize and evaluate while being aware of personal bias, outlying factors and remaining open-minded.

Defining and analyzing problems without deploying critical thinking skills can mean you and your team go down the wrong path. Developing solutions to complex issues requires critical thinking too – ensuring your team considers all possibilities and rationally evaluating them. 

Agreement-Certainty Matrix   #issue analysis   #liberating structures   #problem solving   You can help individuals or groups avoid the frequent mistake of trying to solve a problem with methods that are not adapted to the nature of their challenge. The combination of two questions makes it possible to easily sort challenges into four categories: simple, complicated, complex , and chaotic .  A problem is simple when it can be solved reliably with practices that are easy to duplicate.  It is complicated when experts are required to devise a sophisticated solution that will yield the desired results predictably.  A problem is complex when there are several valid ways to proceed but outcomes are not predictable in detail.  Chaotic is when the context is too turbulent to identify a path forward.  A loose analogy may be used to describe these differences: simple is like following a recipe, complicated like sending a rocket to the moon, complex like raising a child, and chaotic is like the game “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”  The Liberating Structures Matching Matrix in Chapter 5 can be used as the first step to clarify the nature of a challenge and avoid the mismatches between problems and solutions that are frequently at the root of chronic, recurring problems.

Data analysis 

Though it shares lots of space with general analytical skills, data analysis skills are something you want to cultivate in their own right in order to be an effective problem solver.

Being good at data analysis doesn’t just mean being able to find insights from data, but also selecting the appropriate data for a given issue, interpreting it effectively and knowing how to model and present that data. Depending on the problem at hand, it might also include a working knowledge of specific data analysis tools and procedures. 

Having a solid grasp of data analysis techniques is useful if you’re leading a problem solving workshop but if you’re not an expert, don’t worry. Bring people into the group who has this skill set and help your team be more effective as a result.

Decision making

All problems need a solution and all solutions require that someone make the decision to implement them. Without strong decision making skills, teams can become bogged down in discussion and less effective as a result. 

Making decisions is a key part of the problem solving process. It’s important to remember that decision making is not restricted to the leadership team. Every staff member makes decisions every day and developing these skills ensures that your team is able to solve problems at any scale. Remember that making decisions does not mean leaping to the first solution but weighing up the options and coming to an informed, well thought out solution to any given problem that works for the whole team.

Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)   #action   #decision making   #problem solving   #issue analysis   #innovation   #design   #remote-friendly   The problem with anything that requires creative thinking is that it’s easy to get lost—lose focus and fall into the trap of having useless, open-ended, unstructured discussions. Here’s the most effective solution I’ve found: Replace all open, unstructured discussion with a clear process. What to use this exercise for: Anything which requires a group of people to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges. It’s always good to frame an LDJ session with a broad topic, here are some examples: The conversion flow of our checkout Our internal design process How we organise events Keeping up with our competition Improving sales flow

Dependability

Most complex organizational problems require multiple people to be involved in delivering the solution. Ensuring that the team and organization can depend on you to take the necessary actions and communicate where necessary is key to ensuring problems are solved effectively.

Being dependable also means working to deadlines and to brief. It is often a matter of creating trust in a team so that everyone can depend on one another to complete the agreed actions in the agreed time frame so that the team can move forward together. Being undependable can create problems of friction and can limit the effectiveness of your solutions so be sure to bear this in mind throughout a project. 

Team Purpose & Culture   #team   #hyperisland   #culture   #remote-friendly   This is an essential process designed to help teams define their purpose (why they exist) and their culture (how they work together to achieve that purpose). Defining these two things will help any team to be more focused and aligned. With support of tangible examples from other companies, the team members work as individuals and a group to codify the way they work together. The goal is a visual manifestation of both the purpose and culture that can be put up in the team’s work space.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important skill for any successful team member, whether communicating internally or with clients or users. In the problem solving process, emotional intelligence means being attuned to how people are feeling and thinking, communicating effectively and being self-aware of what you bring to a room. 

There are often differences of opinion when working through problem solving processes, and it can be easy to let things become impassioned or combative. Developing your emotional intelligence means being empathetic to your colleagues and managing your own emotions throughout the problem and solution process. Be kind, be thoughtful and put your points across care and attention. 

Being emotionally intelligent is a skill for life and by deploying it at work, you can not only work efficiently but empathetically. Check out the emotional culture workshop template for more!

Facilitation

As we’ve clarified in our facilitation skills post, facilitation is the art of leading people through processes towards agreed-upon objectives in a manner that encourages participation, ownership, and creativity by all those involved. While facilitation is a set of interrelated skills in itself, the broad definition of facilitation can be invaluable when it comes to problem solving. Leading a team through a problem solving process is made more effective if you improve and utilize facilitation skills – whether you’re a manager, team leader or external stakeholder.

The Six Thinking Hats   #creative thinking   #meeting facilitation   #problem solving   #issue resolution   #idea generation   #conflict resolution   The Six Thinking Hats are used by individuals and groups to separate out conflicting styles of thinking. They enable and encourage a group of people to think constructively together in exploring and implementing change, rather than using argument to fight over who is right and who is wrong.

Flexibility 

Being flexible is a vital skill when it comes to problem solving. This does not mean immediately bowing to pressure or changing your opinion quickly: instead, being flexible is all about seeing things from new perspectives, receiving new information and factoring it into your thought process.

Flexibility is also important when it comes to rolling out solutions. It might be that other organizational projects have greater priority or require the same resources as your chosen solution. Being flexible means understanding needs and challenges across the team and being open to shifting or arranging your own schedule as necessary. Again, this does not mean immediately making way for other projects. It’s about articulating your own needs, understanding the needs of others and being able to come to a meaningful compromise.

The Creativity Dice   #creativity   #problem solving   #thiagi   #issue analysis   Too much linear thinking is hazardous to creative problem solving. To be creative, you should approach the problem (or the opportunity) from different points of view. You should leave a thought hanging in mid-air and move to another. This skipping around prevents premature closure and lets your brain incubate one line of thought while you consciously pursue another.

Working in any group can lead to unconscious elements of groupthink or situations in which you may not wish to be entirely honest. Disagreeing with the opinions of the executive team or wishing to save the feelings of a coworker can be tricky to navigate, but being honest is absolutely vital when to comes to developing effective solutions and ensuring your voice is heard. 

Remember that being honest does not mean being brutally candid. You can deliver your honest feedback and opinions thoughtfully and without creating friction by using other skills such as emotional intelligence. 

Explore your Values   #hyperisland   #skills   #values   #remote-friendly   Your Values is an exercise for participants to explore what their most important values are. It’s done in an intuitive and rapid way to encourage participants to follow their intuitive feeling rather than over-thinking and finding the “correct” values. It is a good exercise to use to initiate reflection and dialogue around personal values.

Initiative 

The problem solving process is multi-faceted and requires different approaches at certain points of the process. Taking initiative to bring problems to the attention of the team, collect data or lead the solution creating process is always valuable. You might even roadtest your own small scale solutions or brainstorm before a session. Taking initiative is particularly effective if you have good deal of knowledge in that area or have ownership of a particular project and want to get things kickstarted.

That said, be sure to remember to honor the process and work in service of the team. If you are asked to own one part of the problem solving process and you don’t complete that task because your initiative leads you to work on something else, that’s not an effective method of solving business challenges.

15% Solutions   #action   #liberating structures   #remote-friendly   You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.  15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.  With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

Impartiality

A particularly useful problem solving skill for product owners or managers is the ability to remain impartial throughout much of the process. In practice, this means treating all points of view and ideas brought forward in a meeting equally and ensuring that your own areas of interest or ownership are not favored over others. 

There may be a stage in the process where a decision maker has to weigh the cost and ROI of possible solutions against the company roadmap though even then, ensuring that the decision made is based on merit and not personal opinion. 

Empathy map   #frame insights   #create   #design   #issue analysis   An empathy map is a tool to help a design team to empathize with the people they are designing for. You can make an empathy map for a group of people or for a persona. To be used after doing personas when more insights are needed.

Being a good leader means getting a team aligned, energized and focused around a common goal. In the problem solving process, strong leadership helps ensure that the process is efficient, that any conflicts are resolved and that a team is managed in the direction of success.

It’s common for managers or executives to assume this role in a problem solving workshop, though it’s important that the leader maintains impartiality and does not bulldoze the group in a particular direction. Remember that good leadership means working in service of the purpose and team and ensuring the workshop is a safe space for employees of any level to contribute. Take a look at our leadership games and activities post for more exercises and methods to help improve leadership in your organization.

Leadership Pizza   #leadership   #team   #remote-friendly   This leadership development activity offers a self-assessment framework for people to first identify what skills, attributes and attitudes they find important for effective leadership, and then assess their own development and initiate goal setting.

In the context of problem solving, mediation is important in keeping a team engaged, happy and free of conflict. When leading or facilitating a problem solving workshop, you are likely to run into differences of opinion. Depending on the nature of the problem, certain issues may be brought up that are emotive in nature. 

Being an effective mediator means helping those people on either side of such a divide are heard, listen to one another and encouraged to find common ground and a resolution. Mediating skills are useful for leaders and managers in many situations and the problem solving process is no different.

Conflict Responses   #hyperisland   #team   #issue resolution   A workshop for a team to reflect on past conflicts, and use them to generate guidelines for effective conflict handling. The workshop uses the Thomas-Killman model of conflict responses to frame a reflective discussion. Use it to open up a discussion around conflict with a team.

Planning 

Solving organizational problems is much more effective when following a process or problem solving model. Planning skills are vital in order to structure, deliver and follow-through on a problem solving workshop and ensure your solutions are intelligently deployed.

Planning skills include the ability to organize tasks and a team, plan and design the process and take into account any potential challenges. Taking the time to plan carefully can save time and frustration later in the process and is valuable for ensuring a team is positioned for success.

3 Action Steps   #hyperisland   #action   #remote-friendly   This is a small-scale strategic planning session that helps groups and individuals to take action toward a desired change. It is often used at the end of a workshop or programme. The group discusses and agrees on a vision, then creates some action steps that will lead them towards that vision. The scope of the challenge is also defined, through discussion of the helpful and harmful factors influencing the group.

Prioritization

As organisations grow, the scale and variation of problems they face multiplies. Your team or is likely to face numerous challenges in different areas and so having the skills to analyze and prioritize becomes very important, particularly for those in leadership roles.

A thorough problem solving process is likely to deliver multiple solutions and you may have several different problems you wish to solve simultaneously. Prioritization is the ability to measure the importance, value, and effectiveness of those possible solutions and choose which to enact and in what order. The process of prioritization is integral in ensuring the biggest challenges are addressed with the most impactful solutions.

Impact and Effort Matrix   #gamestorming   #decision making   #action   #remote-friendly   In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

Project management

Some problem solving skills are utilized in a workshop or ideation phases, while others come in useful when it comes to decision making. Overseeing an entire problem solving process and ensuring its success requires strong project management skills. 

While project management incorporates many of the other skills listed here, it is important to note the distinction of considering all of the factors of a project and managing them successfully. Being able to negotiate with stakeholders, manage tasks, time and people, consider costs and ROI, and tie everything together is massively helpful when going through the problem solving process. 

Record keeping

Working out meaningful solutions to organizational challenges is only one part of the process.  Thoughtfully documenting and keeping records of each problem solving step for future consultation is important in ensuring efficiency and meaningful change. 

For example, some problems may be lower priority than others but can be revisited in the future. If the team has ideated on solutions and found some are not up to the task, record those so you can rule them out and avoiding repeating work. Keeping records of the process also helps you improve and refine your problem solving model next time around!

Personal Kanban   #gamestorming   #action   #agile   #project planning   Personal Kanban is a tool for organizing your work to be more efficient and productive. It is based on agile methods and principles.

Research skills

Conducting research to support both the identification of problems and the development of appropriate solutions is important for an effective process. Knowing where to go to collect research, how to conduct research efficiently, and identifying pieces of research are relevant are all things a good researcher can do well. 

In larger groups, not everyone has to demonstrate this ability in order for a problem solving workshop to be effective. That said, having people with research skills involved in the process, particularly if they have existing area knowledge, can help ensure the solutions that are developed with data that supports their intention. Remember that being able to deliver the results of research efficiently and in a way the team can easily understand is also important. The best data in the world is only as effective as how it is delivered and interpreted.

Customer experience map   #ideation   #concepts   #research   #design   #issue analysis   #remote-friendly   Customer experience mapping is a method of documenting and visualizing the experience a customer has as they use the product or service. It also maps out their responses to their experiences. To be used when there is a solution (even in a conceptual stage) that can be analyzed.

Risk management

Managing risk is an often overlooked part of the problem solving process. Solutions are often developed with the intention of reducing exposure to risk or solving issues that create risk but sometimes, great solutions are more experimental in nature and as such, deploying them needs to be carefully considered. 

Managing risk means acknowledging that there may be risks associated with more out of the box solutions or trying new things, but that this must be measured against the possible benefits and other organizational factors. 

Be informed, get the right data and stakeholders in the room and you can appropriately factor risk into your decision making process. 

Decisions, Decisions…   #communication   #decision making   #thiagi   #action   #issue analysis   When it comes to decision-making, why are some of us more prone to take risks while others are risk-averse? One explanation might be the way the decision and options were presented.  This exercise, based on Kahneman and Tversky’s classic study , illustrates how the framing effect influences our judgement and our ability to make decisions . The participants are divided into two groups. Both groups are presented with the same problem and two alternative programs for solving them. The two programs both have the same consequences but are presented differently. The debriefing discussion examines how the framing of the program impacted the participant’s decision.

Team-building 

No single person is as good at problem solving as a team. Building an effective team and helping them come together around a common purpose is one of the most important problem solving skills, doubly so for leaders. By bringing a team together and helping them work efficiently, you pave the way for team ownership of a problem and the development of effective solutions. 

In a problem solving workshop, it can be tempting to jump right into the deep end, though taking the time to break the ice, energize the team and align them with a game or exercise will pay off over the course of the day.

Remember that you will likely go through the problem solving process multiple times over an organization’s lifespan and building a strong team culture will make future problem solving more effective. It’s also great to work with people you know, trust and have fun with. Working on team building in and out of the problem solving process is a hallmark of successful teams that can work together to solve business problems.

9 Dimensions Team Building Activity   #ice breaker   #teambuilding   #team   #remote-friendly   9 Dimensions is a powerful activity designed to build relationships and trust among team members. There are 2 variations of this icebreaker. The first version is for teams who want to get to know each other better. The second version is for teams who want to explore how they are working together as a team.

Time management 

The problem solving process is designed to lead a team from identifying a problem through to delivering a solution and evaluating its effectiveness. Without effective time management skills or timeboxing of tasks, it can be easy for a team to get bogged down or be inefficient.

By using a problem solving model and carefully designing your workshop, you can allocate time efficiently and trust that the process will deliver the results you need in a good timeframe.

Time management also comes into play when it comes to rolling out solutions, particularly those that are experimental in nature. Having a clear timeframe for implementing and evaluating solutions is vital for ensuring their success and being able to pivot if necessary.

Improving your skills at problem solving is often a career-long pursuit though there are methods you can use to make the learning process more efficient and to supercharge your problem solving skillset.

Remember that the skills you need to be a great problem solver have a large overlap with those skills you need to be effective in any role. Investing time and effort to develop your active listening or critical thinking skills is valuable in any context. Here are 7 ways to improve your problem solving skills.

Share best practices

Remember that your team is an excellent source of skills, wisdom, and techniques and that you should all take advantage of one another where possible. Best practices that one team has for solving problems, conducting research or making decisions should be shared across the organization. If you have in-house staff that have done active listening training or are data analysis pros, have them lead a training session. 

Your team is one of your best resources. Create space and internal processes for the sharing of skills so that you can all grow together. 

Ask for help and attend training

Once you’ve figured out you have a skills gap, the next step is to take action to fill that skills gap. That might be by asking your superior for training or coaching, or liaising with team members with that skill set. You might even attend specialized training for certain skills – active listening or critical thinking, for example, are business-critical skills that are regularly offered as part of a training scheme.

Whatever method you choose, remember that taking action of some description is necessary for growth. Whether that means practicing, getting help, attending training or doing some background reading, taking active steps to improve your skills is the way to go.

Learn a process 

Problem solving can be complicated, particularly when attempting to solve large problems for the first time. Using a problem solving process helps give structure to your problem solving efforts and focus on creating outcomes, rather than worrying about the format. 

Tools such as the seven-step problem solving process above are effective because not only do they feature steps that will help a team solve problems, they also develop skills along the way. Each step asks for people to engage with the process using different skills and in doing so, helps the team learn and grow together. Group processes of varying complexity and purpose can also be found in the SessionLab library of facilitation techniques . Using a tried and tested process and really help ease the learning curve for both those leading such a process, as well as those undergoing the purpose.

Effective teams make decisions about where they should and shouldn’t expend additional effort. By using a problem solving process, you can focus on the things that matter, rather than stumbling towards a solution haphazardly. 

Create a feedback loop

Some skills gaps are more obvious than others. It’s possible that your perception of your active listening skills differs from those of your colleagues. 

It’s valuable to create a system where team members can provide feedback in an ordered and friendly manner so they can all learn from one another. Only by identifying areas of improvement can you then work to improve them. 

Remember that feedback systems require oversight and consideration so that they don’t turn into a place to complain about colleagues. Design the system intelligently so that you encourage the creation of learning opportunities, rather than encouraging people to list their pet peeves.

While practice might not make perfect, it does make the problem solving process easier. If you are having trouble with critical thinking, don’t shy away from doing it. Get involved where you can and stretch those muscles as regularly as possible. 

Problem solving skills come more naturally to some than to others and that’s okay. Take opportunities to get involved and see where you can practice your skills in situations outside of a workshop context. Try collaborating in other circumstances at work or conduct data analysis on your own projects. You can often develop those skills you need for problem solving simply by doing them. Get involved!

Use expert exercises and methods

Learn from the best. Our library of 700+ facilitation techniques is full of activities and methods that help develop the skills you need to be an effective problem solver. Check out our templates to see how to approach problem solving and other organizational challenges in a structured and intelligent manner.

There is no single approach to improving problem solving skills, but by using the techniques employed by others you can learn from their example and develop processes that have seen proven results. 

Try new ways of thinking and change your mindset

Using tried and tested exercises that you know well can help deliver results, but you do run the risk of missing out on the learning opportunities offered by new approaches. As with the problem solving process, changing your mindset can remove blockages and be used to develop your problem solving skills.

Most teams have members with mixed skill sets and specialties. Mix people from different teams and share skills and different points of view. Teach your customer support team how to use design thinking methods or help your developers with conflict resolution techniques. Try switching perspectives with facilitation techniques like Flip It! or by using new problem solving methodologies or models. Give design thinking, liberating structures or lego serious play a try if you want to try a new approach. You will find that framing problems in new ways and using existing skills in new contexts can be hugely useful for personal development and improving your skillset. It’s also a lot of fun to try new things. Give it a go!

Encountering business challenges and needing to find appropriate solutions is not unique to your organization. Lots of very smart people have developed methods, theories and approaches to help develop problem solving skills and create effective solutions. Learn from them!

Books like The Art of Thinking Clearly , Think Smarter, or Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow are great places to start, though it’s also worth looking at blogs related to organizations facing similar problems to yours, or browsing for success stories. Seeing how Dropbox massively increased growth and working backward can help you see the skills or approach you might be lacking to solve that same problem. Learning from others by reading their stories or approaches can be time-consuming but ultimately rewarding.

A tired, distracted mind is not in the best position to learn new skills. It can be tempted to burn the candle at both ends and develop problem solving skills outside of work. Absolutely use your time effectively and take opportunities for self-improvement, though remember that rest is hugely important and that without letting your brain rest, you cannot be at your most effective. 

Creating distance between yourself and the problem you might be facing can also be useful. By letting an idea sit, you can find that a better one presents itself or you can develop it further. Take regular breaks when working and create a space for downtime. Remember that working smarter is preferable to working harder and that self-care is important for any effective learning or improvement process.

Want to design better group processes?

program for problem solving

Over to you

Now we’ve explored some of the key problem solving skills and the problem solving steps necessary for an effective process, you’re ready to begin developing more effective solutions and leading problem solving workshops.

Need more inspiration? Check out our post on problem solving activities you can use when guiding a group towards a great solution in your next workshop or meeting. Have questions? Did you have a great problem solving technique you use with your team? Get in touch in the comments below. We’d love to chat!

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

cycle of workshop planning steps

Going from a mere idea to a workshop that delivers results for your clients can feel like a daunting task. In this piece, we will shine a light on all the work behind the scenes and help you learn how to plan a workshop from start to finish. On a good day, facilitation can feel like effortless magic, but that is mostly the result of backstage work, foresight, and a lot of careful planning. Read on to learn a step-by-step approach to breaking the process of planning a workshop into small, manageable chunks.  The flow starts with the first meeting with a client to define the purposes of a workshop.…

program for problem solving

How does learning work? A clever 9-year-old once told me: “I know I am learning something new when I am surprised.” The science of adult learning tells us that, in order to learn new skills (which, unsurprisingly, is harder for adults to do than kids) grown-ups need to first get into a specific headspace.  In a business, this approach is often employed in a training session where employees learn new skills or work on professional development. But how do you ensure your training is effective? In this guide, we'll explore how to create an effective training session plan and run engaging training sessions. As team leader, project manager, or consultant,…

program for problem solving

Effective online tools are a necessity for smooth and engaging virtual workshops and meetings. But how do you choose the right ones? Do you sometimes feel that the good old pen and paper or MS Office toolkit and email leaves you struggling to stay on top of managing and delivering your workshop? Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools to make your life easier when you need to facilitate a meeting and lead workshops. In this post, we’ll share our favorite online tools you can use to make your job as a facilitator easier. In fact, there are plenty of free online workshop tools and meeting facilitation software you can…

Design your next workshop with SessionLab

Join the 150,000 facilitators using SessionLab

Sign up for free

program for problem solving

Member-only story

10 Steps to Solving a Programming Problem

Tips for new developers staring at a blank screen, unsure of where to start.

Valinda Chan

Valinda Chan

Some of the feedback I hear from new developers working on a programming problem revolves around uncertainty of where to start. You understand the problem, the logic, basics of the syntax, etc. If you see someone else’s code or have someone to guide you, you can follow along. But maybe you feel uncertain about doing it yourself and have trouble turning your thoughts into code at first even though you understand the syntax or logic. Here’s my process and some tips to tackling a sample problem that hopefully some of you may find helpful in your journey.

1. Read the problem at least three times (or however many makes you feel comfortable)

You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand. There is a difference between the problem and the problem you think you are solving. It’s easy to start reading the first few lines in a problem and assume the rest of it because it’s similar to something you’ve seen in the past. If you are making even a popular game like Hangman, be sure to read through any rules even if you’ve played it before. I once was asked to make a game like Hangman that I realized was “Evil Hangman” only after I read through the instructions (it was a trick!).

Sometimes I’ll even try explaining the problem to a friend and see if her understanding of my explanation matches the problem I am tasked with. You don’t want to find out halfway through that you misunderstood the problem. Taking extra time in the beginning is worth it. The better you understand the problem, the easier it will be to solve it.

Let’s pretend we are creating a simple function selectEvenNumbers that will take in an array of numbers and return an array evenNumbers of only even numbers. If there are no even numbers, return the empty array evenNumbers .

Here are some questions that run through my mind:

  • How can a computer tell what is an even number? Divide that number by 2 and see if its remainder is 0.
  • What am I passing into this function? An array
  • What will that array contain? One or more numbers
  • What are the data types of the elements in the array? Numbers
  • What is the goal of this function? What am I returning at the end of this function? The goal is to take all the even numbers and return them in an array. If there are no even numbers, return an empty array.

2. Work through the problem manually with at least three sets of sample data

Take out a piece of paper and work through the problem manually. Think of at least three sets of sample data you can use. Consider corner and edge cases as well.

Corner case : a problem or situation that occurs outside of normal operating parameters, specifically when multiple environmental variables or conditions are simultaneously at extreme levels, even though each parameter is within the specified range for that parameter. Edge case : problem or situation that occurs only at an extreme (maximum or minimum) operating parameter

For example, below are some sets of sample data to use:

When you are first starting out, it is easy to gloss over the steps. Because your brain may already be familiar with even numbers, you may just look at a sample set of data and pull out numbers like 2 , 4 , 6 and so forth in the array without fully being aware of each and every step your brain is taking to solve it. If this is challenging, try using large sets of data as it will override your brain’s ability to naturally solve the problem just by looking at it. That helps you work through the real algorithm.

Let’s go through the first array [1]

  • Look at the only element in the array [1]
  • Decide if it is even. It is not
  • Notice that there are no more elements in this array
  • Determine there are no even numbers in this provided array
  • Return an empty array

Let’s go through the array [1, 2]

  • Look at the first element in array [1, 2]
  • Look at the next element in the array
  • Decide if it is even. It is even
  • Make an array evenNumbers and add 2 to this array
  • Return the array evenNumbers which is [2]

I go through this a few more times. Notice how the steps I wrote down for [1] varies slightly from [1, 2] . That is why I try to go through a couple of different sets. I have some sets with just one element, some with floats instead of just integers, some with multiple digits in an element, and some with negatives just to be safe.

3. Simplify and optimize your steps

Look for patterns and see if there’s anything you can generalize. See if you can reduce any steps or if you are repeating any steps.

  • Create a function selectEvenNumbers
  • Create a new empty array evenNumbers where I store even numbers, if any
  • Go through each element in the array [1, 2]
  • Find the first element
  • Decide if it is even by seeing if it is divisible by 2. If it is even, I add that to evenNumbers
  • Find the next element
  • Repeat step #4
  • Repeat step #5 and #4 until there are no more elements in this array
  • Return the array evenNumbers , regardless of whether it has anything in it

This approach may remind you of Mathematical Induction in that you:

  • Show it is true for n = 1 , n = 2 , ...
  • Suppose it is true for n = k
  • Prove it is true for n = k + 1

4. Write pseudocode

Even after you’ve worked out general steps, writing out pseudocode that you can translate into code will help with defining the structure of your code and make coding a lot easier. Write pseudocode line by line. You can do this either on paper or as comments in your code editor. If you’re starting out and find blank screens to be daunting or distracting, I recommend doing it on paper.

Pseudocode generally does not actually have specific rules in particular but sometimes, I might end up including some syntax from a language just because I am familiar enough with an aspect of the programming language. Don’t get caught up with the syntax. Focus on the logic and steps.

For our problem, there are many different ways to do this. For example, you can use filter but for the sake of keeping this example as easy to follow along as possible, we will use a basic for loop for now (but we will use filter later when we refactor our code).

Here is an example of pseudocode that has more words:

Here is an example of pseudocode that has fewer words:

Either way is fine as long as you are writing it out line-by-line and understand the logic on each line.

Refer back to the problem to make sure you are on track.

5. Translate pseudocode into code and debug

When you have your pseudocode ready, translate each line into real code in the language you are working on. We will use JavaScript for this example.

If you wrote it out on paper, type this up as comments in your code editor. Then replace each line in your pseudocode.

Then I call the function and give it some sample sets of data we used earlier. I use them to see if my code returns the results I want. You can also write tests to check if the actual output is equal to the expected output.

I generally use console.log() after each variable or line or so. This helps me check if the values and code are behaving as expected before I move on . By doing this, I catch any issues before I get too far. Below is an example of what values I would check when I am first starting out. I do this throughout my code as I type it out.

After working though each line of my pseudocode, below is what we end up with. // is what the line was in pseudocode. Text that is bolded is the actual code in JavaScript.

I get rid of the pseudocode to avoid confusion.

Sometimes new developers will get hung up with the syntax that it becomes difficult to move forward. Remember that syntax will come more naturally over time and there is no shame in referencing material for the correct syntax later on when coding.

6. Simplify and optimize your code

You’ve probably noticed by now that simplifying and optimizing are recurring themes.

“Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.” — Edsger W. Dijkstra, Dutch computer scientist and early pioneer in many research areas of computing science

In this example, one way of optimizing it would be to filter out items from an array by returning a new array using filter . This way, we don’t have to define another variable evenNumbers because filter will return a new array with copies of elements that match the filter. This will not change the original array. We also don’t need to use a for loop with this approach. filter will go through each item, return either true , to have that element in the array, or false to skip it.

Simplifying and optimizing your code may require you to iterate a few times, identifying ways to further simplify and optimize code.

Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • What are your goals for simplifying and optimizing? The goals will depend on your team’s style or your personal preference. Are you trying to condense the code as much as possible? Is the goal to make it the code more readable? If that’s the case, you may prefer taking that extra line to define the variable or compute something rather than trying to define and compute all in one line.
  • How else can you make the code more readable?
  • Are there any more extra steps you can take out?
  • Are there any variables or functions you ended up not even needing or using?
  • Are you repeating some steps a lot? See if you can define in another function.
  • Are there better ways to handle edge cases?
“Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” — Gerald Jay Sussman and Hal Abelson, Authors of “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”

This step really should be throughout the process. Debugging throughout will help you catch any syntax errors or gaps in logic sooner rather than later. Take advantage of your Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and debugger. When I encounter bugs, I trace the code line-by-line to see if there was anything that did not go as expected. Here are some techniques I use:

  • Check the console to see what the error message says. Sometimes it’ll point out a line number I need to check. This gives me a rough idea of where to start, although the issue sometimes may not be at this line at all.
  • Comment out chunks or lines of code and output what I have so far to quickly see if the code is behaving how I expected. I can always uncomment the code as needed.
  • Use other sample data if there are scenarios I did not think of and see if the code will still work.
  • Save different versions of my file if I am trying out a completely different approach. I don’t want to lose any of my work if I end up wanting to revert back to it!
“The most effective debugging tool is still careful thought, coupled with judiciously placed print statements.” — Brian W. Kernighan, Computer Science Professor at Princeton University

8. Write useful comments

You may not always remember what every single line meant a month later. And someone else working on your code may not know either. That’s why it’s important to write useful comments to avoid problems and save time later on if you need to come back to it.

Stay away from comments such as:

// This is an array. Iterate through it.

// This is a variable

I try to write brief, high-level comments that help me understand what’s going on if it is not obvious. This comes in handy when I am working on more complex problems. It helps understand what a particular function is doing and why. Through the use of clear variable names, function names, and comments, you (and others) should be able to understand:

  • What is this code for?
  • What is it doing?

9. Get feedback through code reviews

Get feedback from your teammates, professors, and other developers. Check out Stack Overflow . See how others tackled the problem and learn from them. There are sometimes several ways to approach a problem. Find out what they are and you’ll get better and quicker at coming up with them yourself.

“No matter how slow you are writing clean code, you will always be slower if you make a mess.” — Uncle Bob Martin, Software Engineer and Co-author of the Agile Manifesto

10. Practice, practice, practice

Even experienced developers are always practicing and learning. If you get helpful feedback, implement it. Redo a problem or do similar problems. Keep pushing yourself. With each problem you solve, the better a developer you become. Celebrate each success and be sure to remember how far you’ve come. Remember that programming, like with anything, comes easier and more naturally with time.

“Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.” — Michael Josephson, Founder of Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics

Thanks Gavin Stark

Valinda Chan

Written by Valinda Chan

Product & UX Design

More from Valinda Chan and codeburst

Must-Read Books for Software Developers

DataDrivenInvestor

Must-Read Books for Software Developers

60+ books on programming, computer science, algorithms and data structures, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, computer systems….

How To Create Horizontal Scrolling Containers

How To Create Horizontal Scrolling Containers

As a front end developer, more and more frequently i am given designs that include a horizontal scrolling component. this has become….

Top 50 Java Interview Questions for Beginners and Junior Developers

Top 50 Java Interview Questions for Beginners and Junior Developers

A list of frequently asked java questions and answers from programming job interviews of java developers of different experience..

Leading with the Power of Influence vs. Positional Power

ThinkGrowth.org

Leading with the Power of Influence vs. Positional Power

Getting people to take risks in a risk-averse environment, recommended from medium.

Advice From a Software Engineer With 8 Years of Experience

Benoit Ruiz

Better Programming

Advice From a Software Engineer With 8 Years of Experience

Practical tips for those who want to advance in their careers.

How I Create Passive Income With No Money

Hazel Paradise

How I Create Passive Income With No Money

Many ways to start a passive income today.

program for problem solving

General Coding Knowledge

program for problem solving

Stories to Help You Grow as a Software Developer

program for problem solving

Coding & Development

program for problem solving

ChatGPT prompts

What Happens When You Start Reading Every Day

Sufyan Maan, M.Eng

ILLUMINATION

What Happens When You Start Reading Every Day

Think before you speak. read before you think. — fran lebowitz.

The Era of High-Paying Tech Jobs is Over

Somnath Singh

Level Up Coding

The Era of High-Paying Tech Jobs is Over

The death of tech jobs..

I Built an App in 6 Hours that Makes $1,500/Mo

Artturi Jalli

I Built an App in 6 Hours that Makes $1,500/Mo

Copy my strategy.

What I wish I’d known about unemployment

Erin Anne Lynch

What I wish I’d known about unemployment

Have you ever watched a friend spend months unemployed.

Text to speech

  • Business Essentials
  • Leadership & Management
  • Credential of Leadership, Impact, and Management in Business (CLIMB)
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • Digital Transformation
  • Finance & Accounting
  • Business in Society
  • For Organizations
  • Support Portal
  • Media Coverage
  • Founding Donors
  • Leadership Team

program for problem solving

  • Harvard Business School →
  • HBS Online →
  • Business Insights →

Business Insights

Harvard Business School Online's Business Insights Blog provides the career insights you need to achieve your goals and gain confidence in your business skills.

  • Career Development
  • Communication
  • Decision-Making
  • Earning Your MBA
  • Negotiation
  • News & Events
  • Productivity
  • Staff Spotlight
  • Student Profiles
  • Work-Life Balance
  • AI Essentials for Business
  • Alternative Investments
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Strategy
  • Business and Climate Change
  • Design Thinking and Innovation
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Disruptive Strategy
  • Economics for Managers
  • Entrepreneurship Essentials
  • Financial Accounting
  • Global Business
  • Launching Tech Ventures
  • Leadership Principles
  • Leadership, Ethics, and Corporate Accountability
  • Leading with Finance
  • Management Essentials
  • Negotiation Mastery
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Power and Influence for Positive Impact
  • Strategy Execution
  • Sustainable Business Strategy
  • Sustainable Investing
  • Winning with Digital Platforms

Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders in Any Industry

Business man leading team in problem-solving exercise with white board

  • 17 Jan 2023

Any organization offering a product or service is in the business of solving problems.

Whether providing medical care to address health issues or quick convenience to those hungry for dinner, a business’s purpose is to satisfy customer needs .

In addition to solving customers’ problems, you’ll undoubtedly encounter challenges within your organization as it evolves to meet customer needs. You’re likely to experience growing pains in the form of missed targets, unattained goals, and team disagreements.

Yet, the ubiquity of problems doesn’t have to be discouraging; with the right frameworks and tools, you can build the skills to solve consumers' and your organization’s most challenging issues.

Here’s a primer on problem-solving in business, why it’s important, the skills you need, and how to build them.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Problem-Solving in Business?

Problem-solving is the process of systematically removing barriers that prevent you or others from reaching goals.

Your business removes obstacles in customers’ lives through its products or services, just as you can remove obstacles that keep your team from achieving business goals.

Design Thinking

Design thinking , as described by Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar in the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , is a human-centered , solutions-based approach to problem-solving and innovation. Originally created for product design, design thinking’s use case has evolved . It’s now used to solve internal business problems, too.

The design thinking process has four stages :

4 Stages of Design Thinking

  • Clarify: Clarify a problem through research and feedback from those impacted.
  • Ideate: Armed with new insights, generate as many solutions as possible.
  • Develop: Combine and cull your ideas into a short list of viable, feasible, and desirable options before building prototypes (if making physical products) and creating a plan of action (if solving an intangible problem).
  • Implement: Execute the strongest idea, ensuring clear communication with all stakeholders about its potential value and deliberate reasoning.

Using this framework, you can generate innovative ideas that wouldn’t have surfaced otherwise.

Creative Problem-Solving

Another, less structured approach to challenges is creative problem-solving , which employs a series of exercises to explore open-ended solutions and develop new perspectives. This is especially useful when a problem’s root cause has yet to be defined.

You can use creative problem-solving tools in design thinking’s “ideate” stage, which include:

  • Brainstorming: Instruct everyone to develop as many ideas as possible in an allotted time frame without passing judgment.
  • Divergent thinking exercises: Rather than arriving at the same conclusion (convergent thinking), instruct everyone to come up with a unique idea for a given prompt (divergent thinking). This type of exercise helps avoid the tendency to agree with others’ ideas without considering alternatives.
  • Alternate worlds: Ask your team to consider how various personas would manage the problem. For instance, how would a pilot approach it? What about a young child? What about a seasoned engineer?

It can be tempting to fall back on how problems have been solved before, especially if they worked well. However, if you’re striving for innovation, relying on existing systems can stunt your company’s growth.

Related: How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips

Why Is Problem-Solving Important for Leaders?

While obstacles’ specifics vary between industries, strong problem-solving skills are crucial for leaders in any field.

Whether building a new product or dealing with internal issues, you’re bound to come up against challenges. Having frameworks and tools at your disposal when they arise can turn issues into opportunities.

As a leader, it’s rarely your responsibility to solve a problem single-handedly, so it’s crucial to know how to empower employees to work together to find the best solution.

Your job is to guide them through each step of the framework and set the parameters and prompts within which they can be creative. Then, you can develop a list of ideas together, test the best ones, and implement the chosen solution.

Related: 5 Design Thinking Skills for Business Professionals

4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need

1. problem framing.

One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you’re trying to solve.

“Before you begin to generate solutions for your problem, you must always think hard about how you’re going to frame that problem,” Datar says in the course.

For instance, imagine you work for a company that sells children’s sneakers, and sales have plummeted. When framing the problem, consider:

  • What is the children’s sneaker market like right now?
  • Should we improve the quality of our sneakers?
  • Should we assess all children’s footwear?
  • Is this a marketing issue for children’s sneakers specifically?
  • Is this a bigger issue that impacts how we should market or produce all footwear?

While there’s no one right way to frame a problem, how you do can impact the solutions you generate. It’s imperative to accurately frame problems to align with organizational priorities and ensure your team generates useful ideas for your firm.

To solve a problem, you need to empathize with those impacted by it. Empathy is the ability to understand others’ emotions and experiences. While many believe empathy is a fixed trait, it’s a skill you can strengthen through practice.

When confronted with a problem, consider whom it impacts. Returning to the children’s sneaker example, think of who’s affected:

  • Your organization’s employees, because sales are down
  • The customers who typically buy your sneakers
  • The children who typically wear your sneakers

Empathy is required to get to the problem’s root and consider each group’s perspective. Assuming someone’s perspective often isn’t accurate, so the best way to get that information is by collecting user feedback.

For instance, if you asked customers who typically buy your children’s sneakers why they’ve stopped, they could say, “A new brand of children’s sneakers came onto the market that have soles with more traction. I want my child to be as safe as possible, so I bought those instead.”

When someone shares their feelings and experiences, you have an opportunity to empathize with them. This can yield solutions to their problem that directly address its root and shows you care. In this case, you may design a new line of children’s sneakers with extremely grippy soles for added safety, knowing that’s what your customers care most about.

Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs

3. Breaking Cognitive Fixedness

Cognitive fixedness is a state of mind in which you examine situations through the lens of past experiences. This locks you into one mindset rather than allowing you to consider alternative possibilities.

For instance, your cognitive fixedness may make you think rubber is the only material for sneaker treads. What else could you use? Is there a grippier alternative you haven’t considered?

Problem-solving is all about overcoming cognitive fixedness. You not only need to foster this skill in yourself but among your team.

4. Creating a Psychologically Safe Environment

As a leader, it’s your job to create an environment conducive to problem-solving. In a psychologically safe environment, all team members feel comfortable bringing ideas to the table, which are likely influenced by their personal opinions and experiences.

If employees are penalized for “bad” ideas or chastised for questioning long-held procedures and systems, innovation has no place to take root.

By employing the design thinking framework and creative problem-solving exercises, you can foster a setting in which your team feels comfortable sharing ideas and new, innovative solutions can grow.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

How to Build Problem-Solving Skills

The most obvious answer to how to build your problem-solving skills is perhaps the most intimidating: You must practice.

Again and again, you’ll encounter challenges, use creative problem-solving tools and design thinking frameworks, and assess results to learn what to do differently next time.

While most of your practice will occur within your organization, you can learn in a lower-stakes setting by taking an online course, such as Design Thinking and Innovation . Datar guides you through each tool and framework, presenting real-world business examples to help you envision how you would approach the same types of problems in your organization.

Are you interested in uncovering innovative solutions for your organization’s business problems? Explore Design Thinking and Innovation —one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses —to learn how to leverage proven frameworks and tools to solve challenges. Not sure which course is right for you? Download our free flowchart .

program for problem solving

About the Author

Status.net

What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)

By Status.net Editorial Team on May 7, 2023 — 5 minutes to read

What Is Problem Solving?

Definition and importance.

Problem solving is the process of finding solutions to obstacles or challenges you encounter in your life or work. It is a crucial skill that allows you to tackle complex situations, adapt to changes, and overcome difficulties with ease. Mastering this ability will contribute to both your personal and professional growth, leading to more successful outcomes and better decision-making.

Problem-Solving Steps

The problem-solving process typically includes the following steps:

  • Identify the issue : Recognize the problem that needs to be solved.
  • Analyze the situation : Examine the issue in depth, gather all relevant information, and consider any limitations or constraints that may be present.
  • Generate potential solutions : Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to the issue, without immediately judging or evaluating them.
  • Evaluate options : Weigh the pros and cons of each potential solution, considering factors such as feasibility, effectiveness, and potential risks.
  • Select the best solution : Choose the option that best addresses the problem and aligns with your objectives.
  • Implement the solution : Put the selected solution into action and monitor the results to ensure it resolves the issue.
  • Review and learn : Reflect on the problem-solving process, identify any improvements or adjustments that can be made, and apply these learnings to future situations.

Defining the Problem

To start tackling a problem, first, identify and understand it. Analyzing the issue thoroughly helps to clarify its scope and nature. Ask questions to gather information and consider the problem from various angles. Some strategies to define the problem include:

  • Brainstorming with others
  • Asking the 5 Ws and 1 H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How)
  • Analyzing cause and effect
  • Creating a problem statement

Generating Solutions

Once the problem is clearly understood, brainstorm possible solutions. Think creatively and keep an open mind, as well as considering lessons from past experiences. Consider:

  • Creating a list of potential ideas to solve the problem
  • Grouping and categorizing similar solutions
  • Prioritizing potential solutions based on feasibility, cost, and resources required
  • Involving others to share diverse opinions and inputs

Evaluating and Selecting Solutions

Evaluate each potential solution, weighing its pros and cons. To facilitate decision-making, use techniques such as:

  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Decision-making matrices
  • Pros and cons lists
  • Risk assessments

After evaluating, choose the most suitable solution based on effectiveness, cost, and time constraints.

Implementing and Monitoring the Solution

Implement the chosen solution and monitor its progress. Key actions include:

  • Communicating the solution to relevant parties
  • Setting timelines and milestones
  • Assigning tasks and responsibilities
  • Monitoring the solution and making adjustments as necessary
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the solution after implementation

Utilize feedback from stakeholders and consider potential improvements. Remember that problem-solving is an ongoing process that can always be refined and enhanced.

Problem-Solving Techniques

During each step, you may find it helpful to utilize various problem-solving techniques, such as:

  • Brainstorming : A free-flowing, open-minded session where ideas are generated and listed without judgment, to encourage creativity and innovative thinking.
  • Root cause analysis : A method that explores the underlying causes of a problem to find the most effective solution rather than addressing superficial symptoms.
  • SWOT analysis : A tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to a problem or decision, providing a comprehensive view of the situation.
  • Mind mapping : A visual technique that uses diagrams to organize and connect ideas, helping to identify patterns, relationships, and possible solutions.

Brainstorming

When facing a problem, start by conducting a brainstorming session. Gather your team and encourage an open discussion where everyone contributes ideas, no matter how outlandish they may seem. This helps you:

  • Generate a diverse range of solutions
  • Encourage all team members to participate
  • Foster creative thinking

When brainstorming, remember to:

  • Reserve judgment until the session is over
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Combine and improve upon ideas

Root Cause Analysis

For effective problem-solving, identifying the root cause of the issue at hand is crucial. Try these methods:

  • 5 Whys : Ask “why” five times to get to the underlying cause.
  • Fishbone Diagram : Create a diagram representing the problem and break it down into categories of potential causes.
  • Pareto Analysis : Determine the few most significant causes underlying the majority of problems.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis helps you examine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to your problem. To perform a SWOT analysis:

  • List your problem’s strengths, such as relevant resources or strong partnerships.
  • Identify its weaknesses, such as knowledge gaps or limited resources.
  • Explore opportunities, like trends or new technologies, that could help solve the problem.
  • Recognize potential threats, like competition or regulatory barriers.

SWOT analysis aids in understanding the internal and external factors affecting the problem, which can help guide your solution.

Mind Mapping

A mind map is a visual representation of your problem and potential solutions. It enables you to organize information in a structured and intuitive manner. To create a mind map:

  • Write the problem in the center of a blank page.
  • Draw branches from the central problem to related sub-problems or contributing factors.
  • Add more branches to represent potential solutions or further ideas.

Mind mapping allows you to visually see connections between ideas and promotes creativity in problem-solving.

Examples of Problem Solving in Various Contexts

In the business world, you might encounter problems related to finances, operations, or communication. Applying problem-solving skills in these situations could look like:

  • Identifying areas of improvement in your company’s financial performance and implementing cost-saving measures
  • Resolving internal conflicts among team members by listening and understanding different perspectives, then proposing and negotiating solutions
  • Streamlining a process for better productivity by removing redundancies, automating tasks, or re-allocating resources

In educational contexts, problem-solving can be seen in various aspects, such as:

  • Addressing a gap in students’ understanding by employing diverse teaching methods to cater to different learning styles
  • Developing a strategy for successful time management to balance academic responsibilities and extracurricular activities
  • Seeking resources and support to provide equal opportunities for learners with special needs or disabilities

Everyday life is full of challenges that require problem-solving skills. Some examples include:

  • Overcoming a personal obstacle, such as improving your fitness level, by establishing achievable goals, measuring progress, and adjusting your approach accordingly
  • Navigating a new environment or city by researching your surroundings, asking for directions, or using technology like GPS to guide you
  • Dealing with a sudden change, like a change in your work schedule, by assessing the situation, identifying potential impacts, and adapting your plans to accommodate the change.
  • How to Resolve Employee Conflict at Work [Steps, Tips, Examples]
  • How to Write Inspiring Core Values? 5 Steps with Examples
  • 30 Employee Feedback Examples (Positive & Negative)

Introduction to Problem Solving Skills

What is problem solving and why is it important.

Defining problem solving skills

The ability to solve problems is a basic life skill and is essential to our day-to-day lives, at home, at school, and at work. We solve problems every day without really thinking about how we solve them. For example: it’s raining and you need to go to the store. What do you do? There are lots of possible solutions. Take your umbrella and walk. If you don't want to get wet, you can drive, or take the bus. You might decide to call a friend for a ride, or you might decide to go to the store another day. There is no right way to solve this problem and different people will solve it differently.

Problem solving is the process of identifying a problem, developing possible solution paths, and taking the appropriate course of action.

Why is problem solving important? Good problem solving skills empower you not only in your personal life but are critical in your professional life. In the current fast-changing global economy, employers often identify everyday problem solving as crucial to the success of their organizations. For employees, problem solving can be used to develop practical and creative solutions, and to show independence and initiative to employers.

Throughout this case study you will be asked to jot down your thoughts in idea logs. These idea logs are used for reflection on concepts and for answering short questions. When you click on the "Next" button, your responses will be saved for that page. If you happen to close the webpage, you will lose your work on the page you were on, but previous pages will be saved. At the end of the case study, click on the "Finish and Export to PDF" button to acknowledge completion of the case study and receive a PDF document of your idea logs.

What Does Problem Solving Look Like?

IDEAL heuristic strategy for problem solving

The ability to solve problems is a skill, and just like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you get. So how exactly do you practice problem solving? Learning about different problem solving strategies and when to use them will give you a good start. Problem solving is a process. Most strategies provide steps that help you identify the problem and choose the best solution. There are two basic types of strategies: algorithmic and heuristic.

Algorithmic strategies are traditional step-by-step guides to solving problems. They are great for solving math problems (in algebra: multiply and divide, then add or subtract) or for helping us remember the correct order of things (a mnemonic such as “Spring Forward, Fall Back” to remember which way the clock changes for daylight saving time, or “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey” to remember what direction to turn bolts and screws). Algorithms are best when there is a single path to the correct solution.

But what do you do when there is no single solution for your problem? Heuristic methods are general guides used to identify possible solutions. A popular one that is easy to remember is IDEAL [ Bransford & Stein, 1993 ] :

  • I dentify the problem
  • D efine the context of the problem
  • E xplore possible strategies
  • A ct on best solution

IDEAL is just one problem solving strategy. Building a toolbox of problem solving strategies will improve your problem solving skills. With practice, you will be able to recognize and use multiple strategies to solve complex problems.

Watch the video

What is the best way to get a peanut out of a tube that cannot be moved? Watch a chimpanzee solve this problem in the video below [ Geert Stienissen, 2010 ].

[PDF transcript]

Describe the series of steps you think the chimpanzee used to solve this problem.

  • [Page 2: What does Problem Solving Look Like?] Describe the series of steps you think the chimpanzee used to solve this problem.

Think of an everyday problem you've encountered recently and describe your steps for solving it.

  • [Page 2: What does Problem Solving Look Like?] Think of an everyday problem you've encountered recently and describe your steps for solving it.

Developing Problem Solving Processes

Problem solving is a process that uses steps to solve problems. But what does that really mean? Let's break it down and start building our toolbox of problem solving strategies.

What is the first step of solving any problem? The first step is to recognize that there is a problem and identify the right cause of the problem. This may sound obvious, but similar problems can arise from different events, and the real issue may not always be apparent. To really solve the problem, it's important to find out what started it all. This is called identifying the root cause .

Example: You and your classmates have been working long hours on a project in the school's workshop. The next afternoon, you try to use your student ID card to access the workshop, but discover that your magnetic strip has been demagnetized. Since the card was a couple of years old, you chalk it up to wear and tear and get a new ID card. Later that same week you learn that several of your classmates had the same problem! After a little investigation, you discover that a strong magnet was stored underneath a workbench in the workshop. The magnet was the root cause of the demagnetized student ID cards.

The best way to identify the root cause of the problem is to ask questions and gather information. If you have a vague problem, investigating facts is more productive than guessing a solution. Ask yourself questions about the problem. What do you know about the problem? What do you not know? When was the last time it worked correctly? What has changed since then? Can you diagram the process into separate steps? Where in the process is the problem occurring? Be curious, ask questions, gather facts, and make logical deductions rather than assumptions.

Watch Adam Savage from Mythbusters, describe his problem solving process [ ForaTv, 2010 ]. As you watch this section of the video, try to identify the questions he asks and the different strategies he uses.

Adam Savage shared many of his problem solving processes. List the ones you think are the five most important. Your list may be different from other people in your class—that's ok!

  • [Page 3: Developing Problem Solving Processes] Adam Savage shared many of his problem solving processes. List the ones you think are the five most important.

“The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.” — Thomas J. Watson , founder of IBM

Voices From the Field: Solving Problems

In manufacturing facilities and machine shops, everyone on the floor is expected to know how to identify problems and find solutions. Today's employers look for the following skills in new employees: to analyze a problem logically, formulate a solution, and effectively communicate with others.

In this video, industry professionals share their own problem solving processes, the problem solving expectations of their employees, and an example of how a problem was solved.

Meet the Partners:

  • Taconic High School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is a comprehensive, fully accredited high school with special programs in Health Technology, Manufacturing Technology, and Work-Based Learning.
  • Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, prepares its students with applied manufacturing technical skills, providing hands-on experience at industrial laboratories and manufacturing facilities, and instructing them in current technologies.
  • H.C. Starck in Newton, Massachusetts, specializes in processing and manufacturing technology metals, such as tungsten, niobium, and tantalum. In almost 100 years of experience, they hold over 900 patents, and continue to innovate and develop new products.
  • Nypro Healthcare in Devens, Massachusetts, specializes in precision injection-molded healthcare products. They are committed to good manufacturing processes including lean manufacturing and process validation.

Making Decisions

Now that you have a couple problem solving strategies in your toolbox, let's practice. In this exercise, you are given a scenario and you will be asked to decide what steps you would take to identify and solve the problem.

Scenario: You are a new employee and have just finished your training. As your first project, you have been assigned the milling of several additional components for a regular customer. Together, you and your trainer, Bill, set up for the first run. Checking your paperwork, you gather the tools and materials on the list. As you are mounting the materials on the table, you notice that you didn't grab everything and hurriedly grab a few more items from one of the bins. Once the material is secured on the CNC table, you load tools into the tool carousel in the order listed on the tool list and set the fixture offsets.

Bill tells you that since this is a rerun of a job several weeks ago, the CAD/CAM model has already been converted to CNC G-code. Bill helps you download the code to the CNC machine. He gives you the go-ahead and leaves to check on another employee. You decide to start your first run.

What problems did you observe in the video?

  • [Page 5: Making Decisions] What problems did you observe in the video?
  • What do you do next?
  • Try to fix it yourself.
  • Ask your trainer for help.

As you are cleaning up, you think about what happened and wonder why it happened. You try to create a mental picture of what happened. You are not exactly sure what the end mill hit, but it looked like it might have hit the dowel pin. You wonder if you grabbed the correct dowel pins from the bins earlier.

You can think of two possible next steps. You can recheck the dowel pin length to make sure it is the correct length, or do a dry run using the CNC single step or single block function with the spindle empty to determine what actually happened.

screenshot of cnc problem

  • Check the dowel pins.
  • Use the single step/single block function to determine what happened.

You notice that your trainer, Bill, is still on the floor and decide to ask him for help. You describe the problem to him. Bill asks if you know what the end mill ran into. You explain that you are not sure but you think it was the dowel pin. Bill reminds you that it is important to understand what happened so you can fix the correct problem. He suggests that you start all over again and begin with a dry run using the single step/single block function, with the spindle empty, to determine what it hit. Or, since it happened at the end, he mentions that you can also check the G-code to make sure the Z-axis is raised before returning to the home position.

ask help from a more experienced person

  • Run the single step/single block function.
  • Edit the G-code to raise the Z-axis.

You finish cleaning up and check the CNC for any damage. Luckily, everything looks good. You check your paperwork and gather the components and materials again. You look at the dowel pins you used earlier, and discover that they are not the right length. As you go to grab the correct dowel pins, you have to search though several bins. For the first time, you are aware of the mess - it looks like the dowel pins and other items have not been put into the correctly labeled bins. You spend 30 minutes straightening up the bins and looking for the correct dowel pins.

Finally finding them, you finish setting up. You load tools into the tool carousel in the order listed on the tool list and set the fixture offsets. Just to make sure, you use the CNC single step/single block function, to do a dry run of the part. Everything looks good! You are ready to create your first part. The first component is done, and, as you admire your success, you notice that the part feels hotter than it should.

You wonder why? You go over the steps of the process to mentally figure out what could be causing the residual heat. You wonder if there is a problem with the CNC's coolant system or if the problem is in the G-code.

  • Look at the G-code.

After thinking about the problem, you decide that maybe there's something wrong with the setup. First, you clean up the damaged materials and remove the broken tool. You check the CNC machine carefully for any damage. Luckily, everything looks good. It is time to start over again from the beginning.

You again check your paperwork and gather the tools and materials on the setup sheet. After securing the new materials, you use the CNC single step/single block function with the spindle empty, to do a dry run of the part. You watch carefully to see if you can figure out what happened. It looks to you like the spindle barely misses hitting the dowel pin. You determine that the end mill was broken when it hit the dowel pin while returning to the start position.

idea at cnc machine

After conducting a dry run using the single step/single block function, you determine that the end mill was damaged when it hit the dowel pin on its return to the home position. You discuss your options with Bill. Together, you decide the best thing to do would be to edit the G-code and raise the Z-axis before returning to home. You open the CNC control program and edit the G-code. Just to make sure, you use the CNC single step/single block function, to do another dry run of the part. You are ready to create your first part. It works. You first part is completed. Only four more to go.

software or hardware problem

As you are cleaning up, you notice that the components are hotter than you expect and the end mill looks more worn than it should be. It dawns on you that while you were milling the component, the coolant didn't turn on. You wonder if it is a software problem in the G-code or hardware problem with the CNC machine.

It's the end of the day and you decide to finish the rest of the components in the morning.

  • You decide to look at the G-code in the morning.
  • You leave a note on the machine, just in case.

You decide that the best thing to do would be to edit the G-code and raise the Z-axis of the spindle before it returns to home. You open the CNC control program and edit the G-code.

While editing the G-code to raise the Z-axis, you notice that the coolant is turned off at the beginning of the code and at the end of the code. The coolant command error caught your attention because your coworker, Mark, mentioned having a similar issue during lunch. You change the coolant command to turn the mist on.

  • You decide to talk with your supervisor.
  • You discuss what happened with a coworker over lunch.

As you reflect on the residual heat problem, you think about the machining process and the factors that could have caused the issue. You try to think of anything and everything that could be causing the issue. Are you using the correct tool for the specified material? Are you using the specified material? Is it running at the correct speed? Is there enough coolant? Are there chips getting in the way?

Wait, was the coolant turned on? As you replay what happened in your mind, you wonder why the coolant wasn't turned on. You decide to look at the G-code to find out what is going on.

From the milling machine computer, you open the CNC G-code. You notice that there are no coolant commands. You add them in and on the next run, the coolant mist turns on and the residual heat issues is gone. Now, its on to creating the rest of the parts.

Have you ever used brainstorming to solve a problem? Chances are, you've probably have, even if you didn't realize it.

You notice that your trainer, Bill, is on the floor and decide to ask him for help. You describe the problem with the end mill breaking, and how you discovered that items are not being returned to the correctly labeled bins. You think this caused you to grab the incorrect length dowel pins on your first run. You have sorted the bins and hope that the mess problem is fixed. You then go on to tell Bill about the residual heat issue with the completed part.

Together, you go to the milling machine. Bill shows you how to check the oil and coolant levels. Everything looks good at the machine level. Next, on the CNC computer, you open the CNC G-code. While looking at the code, Bill points out that there are no coolant commands. Bill adds them in and when you rerun the program, it works.

Bill is glad you mentioned the problem to him. You are the third worker to mention G-code issues over the last week. You noticed the coolant problems in your G-code, John noticed a Z-axis issue in his G-code, and Sam had issues with both the Z-axis and the coolant. Chances are, there is a bigger problem and Bill will need to investigate the root cause .

Talking with Bill, you discuss the best way to fix the problem. Bill suggests editing the G-code to raise the Z-axis of the spindle before it returns to its home position. You open the CNC control program and edit the G-code. Following the setup sheet, you re-setup the job and use the CNC single step/single block function, to do another dry run of the part. Everything looks good, so you run the job again and create the first part. It works. Since you need four of each component, you move on to creating the rest of them before cleaning up and leaving for the day.

It's a new day and you have new components to create. As you are setting up, you go in search of some short dowel pins. You discover that the bins are a mess and components have not been put away in the correctly labeled bins. You wonder if this was the cause of yesterday's problem. As you reorganize the bins and straighten up the mess, you decide to mention the mess issue to Bill in your afternoon meeting.

You describe the bin mess and using the incorrect length dowels to Bill. He is glad you mentioned the problem to him. You are not the first person to mention similar issues with tools and parts not being put away correctly. Chances are there is a bigger safety issue here that needs to be addressed in the next staff meeting.

In any workplace, following proper safety and cleanup procedures is always important. This is especially crucial in manufacturing where people are constantly working with heavy, costly and sometimes dangerous equipment. When issues and problems arise, it is important that they are addressed in an efficient and timely manner. Effective communication is an important tool because it can prevent problems from recurring, avoid injury to personnel, reduce rework and scrap, and ultimately, reduce cost, and save money.

You now know that the end mill was damaged when it hit the dowel pin. It seems to you that the easiest thing to do would be to edit the G-code and raise the Z-axis position of the spindle before it returns to the home position. You open the CNC control program and edit the G-code, raising the Z-axis. Starting over, you follow the setup sheet and re-setup the job. This time, you use the CNC single step/single block function, to do another dry run of the part. Everything looks good, so you run the job again and create the first part.

At the end of the day, you are reviewing your progress with your trainer, Bill. After you describe the day's events, he reminds you to always think about safety and the importance of following work procedures. He decides to bring the issue up in the next morning meeting as a reminder to everyone.

In any workplace, following proper procedures (especially those that involve safety) is always important. This is especially crucial in manufacturing where people are constantly working with heavy, costly, and sometimes dangerous equipment. When issues and problems arise, it is important that they are addressed in an efficient and timely manner. Effective communication is an important tool because it can prevent problems from recurring, avoid injury to personnel, reduce rework and scrap, and ultimately, reduce cost, and save money. One tool to improve communication is the morning meeting or huddle.

The next morning, you check the G-code to determine what is wrong with the coolant. You notice that the coolant is turned off at the beginning of the code and also at the end of the code. This is strange. You change the G-code to turn the coolant on at the beginning of the run and off at the end. This works and you create the rest of the parts.

Throughout the day, you keep wondering what caused the G-code error. At lunch, you mention the G-code error to your coworker, John. John is not surprised. He said that he encountered a similar problem earlier this week. You decide to talk with your supervisor the next time you see him.

You are in luck. You see your supervisor by the door getting ready to leave. You hurry over to talk with him. You start off by telling him about how you asked Bill for help. Then you tell him there was a problem and the end mill was damaged. You describe the coolant problem in the G-code. Oh, and by the way, John has seen a similar problem before.

Your supervisor doesn't seem overly concerned, errors happen. He tells you "Good job, I am glad you were able to fix the issue." You are not sure whether your supervisor understood your explanation of what happened or that it had happened before.

The challenge of communicating in the workplace is learning how to share your ideas and concerns. If you need to tell your supervisor that something is not going well, it is important to remember that timing, preparation, and attitude are extremely important.

It is the end of your shift, but you want to let the next shift know that the coolant didn't turn on. You do not see your trainer or supervisor around. You decide to leave a note for the next shift so they are aware of the possible coolant problem. You write a sticky note and leave it on the monitor of the CNC control system.

How effective do you think this solution was? Did it address the problem?

In this scenario, you discovered several problems with the G-code that need to be addressed. When issues and problems arise, it is important that they are addressed in an efficient and timely manner. Effective communication is an important tool because it can prevent problems from recurring and avoid injury to personnel. The challenge of communicating in the workplace is learning how and when to share your ideas and concerns. If you need to tell your co-workers or supervisor that there is a problem, it is important to remember that timing and the method of communication are extremely important.

You are able to fix the coolant problem in the G-code. While you are glad that the problem is fixed, you are worried about why it happened in the first place. It is important to remember that if a problem keeps reappearing, you may not be fixing the right problem. You may only be addressing the symptoms.

You decide to talk to your trainer. Bill is glad you mentioned the problem to him. You are the third worker to mention G-code issues over the last week. You noticed the coolant problems in your G-code, John noticed a Z-axis issue in his G-code, and Sam had issues with both the Z-axis and the coolant. Chances are, there is a bigger problem and Bill will need to investigate the root cause .

Over lunch, you ask your coworkers about the G-code problem and what may be causing the error. Several people mention having similar problems but do not know the cause.

You have now talked to three coworkers who have all experienced similar coolant G-code problems. You make a list of who had the problem, when they had the problem, and what each person told you.

When you see your supervisor later that afternoon, you are ready to talk with him. You describe the problem you had with your component and the damaged bit. You then go on to tell him about talking with Bill and discovering the G-code issue. You show him your notes on your coworkers' coolant issues, and explain that you think there might be a bigger problem.

You supervisor thanks you for your initiative in identifying this problem. It sounds like there is a bigger problem and he will need to investigate the root cause. He decides to call a team huddle to discuss the issue, gather more information, and talk with the team about the importance of communication.

Root Cause Analysis

flower root cause of a problem

Root cause analysis ( RCA ) is a method of problem solving that identifies the underlying causes of an issue. Root cause analysis helps people answer the question of why the problem occurred in the first place. RCA uses clear cut steps in its associated tools, like the "5 Whys Analysis" and the "Cause and Effect Diagram," to identify the origin of the problem, so that you can:

  • Determine what happened.
  • Determine why it happened.
  • Fix the problem so it won’t happen again.

RCA works under the idea that systems and events are connected. An action in one area triggers an action in another, and another, and so on. By tracing back these actions, you can discover where the problem started and how it developed into the problem you're now facing. Root cause analysis can prevent problems from recurring, reduce injury to personnel, reduce rework and scrap, and ultimately, reduce cost and save money. There are many different RCA techniques available to determine the root cause of a problem. These are just a few:

  • Root Cause Analysis Tools
  • 5 Whys Analysis
  • Fishbone or Cause and Effect Diagram
  • Pareto Analysis

5 whys diagram root cause

How Huddles Work

group huddle discussion meeting

Communication is a vital part of any setting where people work together. Effective communication helps employees and managers form efficient teams. It builds trusts between employees and management, and reduces unnecessary competition because each employee knows how their part fits in the larger goal.

One tool that management can use to promote communication in the workplace is the huddle . Just like football players on the field, a huddle is a short meeting where everyone is standing in a circle. A daily team huddle ensures that team members are aware of changes to the schedule, reiterated problems and safety issues, and how their work impacts one another. When done right, huddles create collaboration, communication, and accountability to results. Impromptu huddles can be used to gather information on a specific issue and get each team member's input.

The most important thing to remember about huddles is that they are short, lasting no more than 10 minutes, and their purpose is to communicate and identify. In essence, a huddle’s purpose is to identify priorities, communicate essential information, and discover roadblocks to productivity.

Who uses huddles? Many industries and companies use daily huddles. At first thought, most people probably think of hospitals and their daily patient update meetings, but lots of managers use daily meetings to engage their employees. Here are a few examples:

  • Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk? , uses the daily huddle as an operational tool to take the pulse of his employees and as a motivational tool. Watch a morning huddle meeting .
  • Fusion OEM, an outsourced manufacturing and production company. What do employees take away from the daily huddle meeting .
  • Biz-Group, a performance consulting group. Tips for a successful huddle .

Brainstorming

brainstorming small lightbulbs combined become a big idea

One tool that can be useful in problem solving is brainstorming . Brainstorming is a creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem. The method was first popularized in 1953 by Alex Faickney Osborn in the book Applied Imagination . The goal is to come up with as many ideas as you can in a fixed amount of time. Although brainstorming is best done in a group, it can be done individually. Like most problem solving techniques, brainstorming is a process.

  • Define a clear objective.
  • Have an agreed a time limit.
  • During the brainstorming session, write down everything that comes to mind, even if the idea sounds crazy.
  • If one idea leads to another, write down that idea too.
  • Combine and refine ideas into categories of solutions.
  • Assess and analyze each idea as a potential solution.

When used during problem solving, brainstorming can offer companies new ways of encouraging staff to think creatively and improve production. Brainstorming relies on team members' diverse experiences, adding to the richness of ideas explored. This means that you often find better solutions to the problems. Team members often welcome the opportunity to contribute ideas and can provide buy-in for the solution chosen—after all, they are more likely to be committed to an approach if they were involved in its development. What's more, because brainstorming is fun, it helps team members bond.

  • Watch Peggy Morgan Collins, a marketing executive at Power Curve Communications discuss How to Stimulate Effective Brainstorming .
  • Watch Kim Obbink, CEO of Filter Digital, a digital content company, and her team share their top five rules for How to Effectively Generate Ideas .

Importance of Good Communication and Problem Description

talking too much when describing a problem

Communication is one of the most frequent activities we engage in on a day-to-day basis. At some point, we have all felt that we did not effectively communicate an idea as we would have liked. The key to effective communication is preparation. Rather than attempting to haphazardly improvise something, take a few minutes and think about what you want say and how you will say it. If necessary, write yourself a note with the key points or ideas in the order you want to discuss them. The notes can act as a reminder or guide when you talk to your supervisor.

Tips for clear communication of an issue:

  • Provide a clear summary of your problem. Start at the beginning, give relevant facts, timelines, and examples.
  • Avoid including your opinion or personal attacks in your explanation.
  • Avoid using words like "always" or "never," which can give the impression that you are exaggerating the problem.
  • If this is an ongoing problem and you have collected documentation, give it to your supervisor once you have finished describing the problem.
  • Remember to listen to what's said in return; communication is a two-way process.

Not all communication is spoken. Body language is nonverbal communication that includes your posture, your hands and whether you make eye contact. These gestures can be subtle or overt, but most importantly they communicate meaning beyond what is said. When having a conversation, pay attention to how you stand. A stiff position with arms crossed over your chest may imply that you are being defensive even if your words state otherwise. Shoving your hands in your pockets when speaking could imply that you have something to hide. Be wary of using too many hand gestures because this could distract listeners from your message.

The challenge of communicating in the workplace is learning how and when to share your ideas or concerns. If you need to tell your supervisor or co-worker about something that is not going well, keep in mind that good timing and good attitude will go a long way toward helping your case.

Like all skills, effective communication needs to be practiced. Toastmasters International is perhaps the best known public speaking organization in the world. Toastmasters is open to anyone who wish to improve their speaking skills and is willing to put in the time and effort to do so. To learn more, visit Toastmasters International .

Methods of Communication

different ways to communicate

Communication of problems and issues in any workplace is important, particularly when safety is involved. It is therefore crucial in manufacturing where people are constantly working with heavy, costly, and sometimes dangerous equipment. As issues and problems arise, they need to be addressed in an efficient and timely manner. Effective communication is an important skill because it can prevent problems from recurring, avoid injury to personnel, reduce rework and scrap, and ultimately, reduce cost and save money.

There are many different ways to communicate: in person, by phone, via email, or written. There is no single method that fits all communication needs, each one has its time and place.

In person: In the workplace, face-to-face meetings should be utilized whenever possible. Being able to see the person you need to speak to face-to-face gives you instant feedback and helps you gauge their response through their body language. Be careful of getting sidetracked in conversation when you need to communicate a problem.

Email: Email has become the communication standard for most businesses. It can be accessed from almost anywhere and is great for things that don’t require an immediate response. Email is a great way to communicate non-urgent items to large amounts of people or just your team members. One thing to remember is that most people's inboxes are flooded with emails every day and unless they are hyper vigilant about checking everything, important items could be missed. For issues that are urgent, especially those around safety, email is not always be the best solution.

Phone: Phone calls are more personal and direct than email. They allow us to communicate in real time with another person, no matter where they are. Not only can talking prevent miscommunication, it promotes a two-way dialogue. You don’t have to worry about your words being altered or the message arriving on time. However, mobile phone use and the workplace don't always mix. In particular, using mobile phones in a manufacturing setting can lead to a variety of problems, cause distractions, and lead to serious injury.

Written: Written communication is appropriate when detailed instructions are required, when something needs to be documented, or when the person is too far away to easily speak with over the phone or in person.

There is no "right" way to communicate, but you should be aware of how and when to use the appropriate form of communication for your situation. When deciding the best way to communicate with a co-worker or manager, put yourself in their shoes, and think about how you would want to learn about the issue. Also, consider what information you would need to know to better understand the issue. Use your good judgment of the situation and be considerate of your listener's viewpoint.

Did you notice any other potential problems in the previous exercise?

  • [Page 6:] Did you notice any other potential problems in the previous exercise?

Summary of Strategies

In this exercise, you were given a scenario in which there was a problem with a component you were creating on a CNC machine. You were then asked how you wanted to proceed. Depending on your path through this exercise, you might have found an easy solution and fixed it yourself, asked for help and worked with your trainer, or discovered an ongoing G-code problem that was bigger than you initially thought.

When issues and problems arise, it is important that they are addressed in an efficient and timely manner. Communication is an important tool because it can prevent problems from recurring, avoid injury to personnel, reduce rework and scrap, and ultimately, reduce cost, and save money. Although, each path in this exercise ended with a description of a problem solving tool for your toolbox, the first step is always to identify the problem and define the context in which it happened.

There are several strategies that can be used to identify the root cause of a problem. Root cause analysis (RCA) is a method of problem solving that helps people answer the question of why the problem occurred. RCA uses a specific set of steps, with associated tools like the “5 Why Analysis" or the “Cause and Effect Diagram,” to identify the origin of the problem, so that you can:

Once the underlying cause is identified and the scope of the issue defined, the next step is to explore possible strategies to fix the problem.

If you are not sure how to fix the problem, it is okay to ask for help. Problem solving is a process and a skill that is learned with practice. It is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes and that no one knows everything. Life is about learning. It is okay to ask for help when you don’t have the answer. When you collaborate to solve problems you improve workplace communication and accelerates finding solutions as similar problems arise.

One tool that can be useful for generating possible solutions is brainstorming . Brainstorming is a technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem. The method was first popularized in 1953 by Alex Faickney Osborn in the book Applied Imagination. The goal is to come up with as many ideas as you can, in a fixed amount of time. Although brainstorming is best done in a group, it can be done individually.

Depending on your path through the exercise, you may have discovered that a couple of your coworkers had experienced similar problems. This should have been an indicator that there was a larger problem that needed to be addressed.

In any workplace, communication of problems and issues (especially those that involve safety) is always important. This is especially crucial in manufacturing where people are constantly working with heavy, costly, and sometimes dangerous equipment. When issues and problems arise, it is important that they be addressed in an efficient and timely manner. Effective communication is an important tool because it can prevent problems from recurring, avoid injury to personnel, reduce rework and scrap, and ultimately, reduce cost and save money.

One strategy for improving communication is the huddle . Just like football players on the field, a huddle is a short meeting with everyone standing in a circle. A daily team huddle is a great way to ensure that team members are aware of changes to the schedule, any problems or safety issues are identified and that team members are aware of how their work impacts one another. When done right, huddles create collaboration, communication, and accountability to results. Impromptu huddles can be used to gather information on a specific issue and get each team member's input.

To learn more about different problem solving strategies, choose an option below. These strategies accompany the outcomes of different decision paths in the problem solving exercise.

  • View Problem Solving Strategies Select a strategy below... Root Cause Analysis How Huddles Work Brainstorming Importance of Good Problem Description Methods of Communication

Communication is one of the most frequent activities we engage in on a day-to-day basis. At some point, we have all felt that we did not effectively communicate an idea as we would have liked. The key to effective communication is preparation. Rather than attempting to haphazardly improvise something, take a few minutes and think about what you want say and how you will say it. If necessary, write yourself a note with the key points or ideas in the order you want to discuss them. The notes can act as a reminder or guide during your meeting.

  • Provide a clear summary of the problem. Start at the beginning, give relevant facts, timelines, and examples.

In person: In the workplace, face-to-face meetings should be utilized whenever possible. Being able to see the person you need to speak to face-to-face gives you instant feedback and helps you gauge their response in their body language. Be careful of getting sidetracked in conversation when you need to communicate a problem.

There is no "right" way to communicate, but you should be aware of how and when to use the appropriate form of communication for the situation. When deciding the best way to communicate with a co-worker or manager, put yourself in their shoes, and think about how you would want to learn about the issue. Also, consider what information you would need to know to better understand the issue. Use your good judgment of the situation and be considerate of your listener's viewpoint.

"Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.” — Richard Sloma

Problem Solving: An Important Job Skill

Problem solving improves efficiency and communication on the shop floor. It increases a company's efficiency and profitability, so it's one of the top skills employers look for when hiring new employees. Recent industry surveys show that employers consider soft skills, such as problem solving, as critical to their business’s success.

The 2011 survey, "Boiling Point? The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing ," polled over a thousand manufacturing executives who reported that the number one skill deficiency among their current employees is problem solving, which makes it difficult for their companies to adapt to the changing needs of the industry.

In this video, industry professionals discuss their expectations and present tips for new employees joining the manufacturing workforce.

Quick Summary

  • [Quick Summary: Question1] What are two things you learned in this case study?
  • What question(s) do you still have about the case study?
  • [Quick Summary: Question2] What question(s) do you still have about the case study?
  • Is there anything you would like to learn more about with respect to this case study?
  • [Quick Summary: Question3] Is there anything you would like to learn more about with respect to this case study?

Home

(Mobile) Join Mailing List

Dialectical behavior therapy skills training for emotional problem solving for adolescents.

Mental Health

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents (DBT STEPS-A) is an adaptation of DBT® designed for adolescents in middle and high school. DBT STEPS-A aims to help adolescents “build a life worth living” by developing skills such as emotion management, relationship building, and decision-making to help them navigate challenging situations and stressors that can arise during adolescence. DBT STEPS-A’s approach is grounded in the idea that two seemingly opposing facts can both be true, most notably that the curriculum’s goals include both acceptance and change. DBT STEPS-A instructors strive to help adolescents both accept themselves and make changes in their behavior.

DBT STEPS-A can be delivered school-wide as a general education intervention with just classroom-based group skills training, or in a tiered approach with additional components for adolescents who need more support. The tiered approach can be applied in schools that use a response to intervention model where adolescents are designated into three academic support tiers: (1) general education, (2) needing additional academic or social emotional support, or (3) receiving intensive support through the special education system. All three tiers receive the classroom-based group skills training. Adolescents in Tier 2 and Tier 3 also receive individual coaching focused on practicing the skills learned in group skills training. Adolescents in Tier 3 participate in multi-family group skills training sessions with their parents, and their instructors participate in consultation team meetings where they discuss any implementation challenges and receive support designed to improve their capacity to deliver the curriculum.

During the group skills training, instructors guide adolescents in identifying target behaviors to increase or decrease (e.g., increasing studying and going to school and decreasing substance use). Instructors also teach behavioral skills to groups of adolescents over four modules: (1) mindfulness, (2) distress tolerance, (3) emotion regulation, and (4) interpersonal effectiveness. The mindfulness and distress tolerance modules focus on building acceptance-oriented skills while the emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness modules focus on building change-oriented skills. In the mindfulness module, instructors emphasize accepting current circumstances and being present. In the distress tolerance module, instructors instruct adolescents on how to accept and tolerate painful situations without engaging in harmful behaviors. In the emotion regulation module, instructors strive to help participants become less susceptible to painful emotions. Finally, in the interpersonal effectiveness module, instructors teach adolescents to ask for what they want, to say no when necessary, and to maintain respectful relationships with themselves and others. 

DBT STEPS-A does not currently meet criteria to receive a rating because no studies of the program achieved a rating of moderate or high on design and execution.

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: May 2024

The following sources informed the program or service description, target population, and program or service delivery and implementation information: the program or service manual, and the program or service developer’s website.

This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook .

Target Population

DBT STEPS-A is designed for adolescents ages 12–19 in middle and high school. DBT STEPS-A is designed to be delivered school-wide to adolescents in general education settings. In schools with a response to intervention model, instructors can deliver DBT STEPS-A with additional components for students in the special education system or who need more support.

Program or Service Delivery and Implementation

Instructors typically deliver DBT STEPS-A to groups of adolescents over 30 sessions. Sessions can be delivered weekly or over 20–40 weeks depending on the school schedule. Instructors start with an orientation session followed by a session introducing the concept of dialectics. Next, instructors provide three sessions on mindfulness followed by 5-7 sessions on each of the other three skills modules. Instructors also provide an additional two sessions of mindfulness between each module.

When implemented as a school-wide intervention or for adolescents receiving Tier 1 support, instructors typically deliver the classroom-based skills training in 50-minute sessions. Instructors generally deliver the four skills modules once per week over two semesters or twice per week over one semester. 

For teens receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 support, instructors deliver DBT STEPS-A skills training in a smaller classroom setting to groups of 10–15 students. Instructors may complete two cycles of the four skills modules, or split each session over two class periods, to give adolescents more opportunities to learn and practice the skills in each module. 

For teens receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 support, instructors provide individual coaching as needed to adolescents. For adolescents receiving Tier 3 support, instructors typically offer additional monitoring and mentoring for 15–45 minutes weekly. Finally, instructors can offer evening multi-family group skills training sessions once or twice a month for adolescents in Tier 3 and their parents. 

Schools may have multiple instructors delivering DBT STEPS-A to adolescents receiving Tier 3 support. In this case, instructor consultation teams meet weekly for 45–90 minutes throughout the program period.

Location/Delivery Setting

Recommended locations/delivery settings.

Instructors deliver DBT STEPS-A in school settings. DBT STEPS-A can be delivered as a standalone mandatory course, as part of an existing course, such as a health course, or as an elective course. 

Education, Certifications and Training

Instructors are typically general education teachers or school personnel, such as health teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, or social workers. Instructors delivering DBT STEPS-A to adolescents receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 support should have adolescent mental health expertise. 

DBT STEPS-A training is recommended for instructors. The three-day DBT STEPS-A training provides a comprehensive overview of DBT STEPS-A sessions, describes implementation strategies, identifies potential challenges and solutions for delivering the curriculum and supporting students, and provides instructors with opportunities to practice delivering the curriculum with other training participants.

Program or Service Documentation

Book/manual/available documentation used for review.

Mazza, J. J., Dexter-Mazza, E. T., Miller, A. L., Rathus, J. H., & Murphy, H. E. (2016). DBT skills in schools: Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents (DBT STEPS-A). Guilford Press.

Available languages

The DBT STEPS-A manual is available in English.

Other supporting materials

Overview of DBT STEPS-A

DBT STEPS-A Training Information

For More Information

Website: https://www.dbtinschools.com/  

Email:  [email protected]  

Note: The details on Dosage; Location; Education, Certifications, and Training; Other Supporting Materials; and For More Information sections above are provided to website users for informational purposes only. This information is not exhaustive and may be subject to change.

Extent of Evidence

Studies reviewed, studies rated low.

Flynn, D., Joyce, M., Weihrauch, M., & Corcoran, P. (2018). Innovations in Practice: Dialectical Behaviour Therapy — Skills training for emotional problem solving for adolescents (DBT STEPS-A): Evaluation of a pilot implementation in Irish post‐primary schools. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 23(4), 376-380. https://doi.org/10.1111/camh.12284

Martinez, R. R., Jr., Marraccini, M., Knotek, S. E., Neshkes, R. A., & Vanderburg, J. (2021). Effects of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents (DBT STEPS-A) program of rural ninth-grade students. School Mental Health, 14, 165-178. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-021-09463-5

  • Recommend a Program or Service
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Programs and Services Reviewed
  • Programs and Services Planned for Review
  • Programs and Services Recommended for Review
  • Review Process Overview
  • Identify Programs and Services
  • Select and Prioritize Programs and Services
  • Literature Search
  • Study Eligibility Screening and Prioritization
  • Evidence Review
  • Program and Service Ratings
  • Handbook of Standards and Procedures 1.0
  • All Clearinghouse Resources
  • Related Resources
  • Our Equity Action Plan
  • Accessibility
  • Privacy Policy
  • Vulnerability Disclosure Policy

Problem Solving Therapy

program for problem solving

Presented by Dawn Hasemann, Ph.D.

Presenter Bio

Dawn Hasemann, Ph.D. is currently the Program Manager (BHM2) for Kaiser Permanente’s Virtual ADAPT program in Livermore and San Leandro. Dawn has been a manager and therapist with the Virtual ADAPT program since its doors opened in 2020. Before joining the Virtual ADAPT program, Dawn worked at the Kaiser Fremont Mental Health and Wellness department in various capacities for over 21 years. She completed her postdoctoral residency at that clinic and went on to become an adult team psychologist and psychological testing coordinator. As a manager in the Fremont clinic, she managed the adult team, and she temporarily managed the triage team. She was the regional Chair of the KPNC Adult Service managers group from 2013-2015 and has served on various committees including the End of Life Option group, Kaiser Fremont’s hospital ethics committee, and the Feedback Informed Care regional work group. Dawn completed her undergraduate degree at New College of Florida. After working as a case manager, day treatment assistant, and a psychiatric technician, she was admitted to the University of Kentucky where she completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology. Dawn completed her clinical internship at the University of North Carolina with specializations in psychological assessment and forensics before joining the postdoctoral residency program at Kaiser Permanente.

Dawn Hasemann, Ph.D.

Have you heard of Problem-Solving Therapy or PST? PST, developed in 1971, is an evidence-based treatment useful for treating a variety of populations and mental health conditions. This course covers the theoretical background of PST and highlights the empirical research supporting its use. Clinicians will learn how to use this straightforward treatment approach in a brief therapy format. Case examples are provided to demonstrate the use of PST with patients.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the theoretical principles of PST
  • Identify patients who could benefit from PST
  • List the 7 steps of PST
  • Understand how PST is used at Kaiser Permanente

Instructional Level

Licensed mental health professionals employed through Kaiser Permanente and psychological assistants performing under supervision of a licensed psychologist.

This CE program is free to Kaiser Permanente employees. Instructional Methodology Lecture Audio/Visual On-line Presentation

Continuing Education Information

Kaiser Permanente Northern California Mental Health Training Program is approved by the California Psychological Association to provide continuing professional education for psychologists. The Kaiser Permanente Northern California Mental Health Training Program maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Refund and Attendance Policy

All programs offered on KP Learn for CE credit through the KP Northern California Mental Health Training website are free of charge to Kaiser Permanente Staff and trainees. Once a course is selected in the KP NCAL MH Training Website, the registration process begins, and it will appear in the individuals KP Learn profile for completion within 90 days.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Those who attend the program in full and complete the appropriate evaluation form will receive CE credits. Please note that credit will only be granted to those who attend the entire program. An attestation of attendance will be given once the individual has completed viewing the program, which will then initiate the final steps of completing the evaluation forms to receive a certificate of completion.

Follow us on these external social media sites that will open in a new browser window.

© 2024 Kaiser Permanente Northern California Mental Health Training Program

  • Course Catalog
  • HEERF Reporting
  • Indycc Twitter (opens in a new window) (opens in new window)
  • Indycc Facebook (opens in a new window) (opens in new window)
  • Indycc Youtube (opens in a new window) (opens in new window)
  • Indycc Instagram (opens in a new window) (opens in new window)
  • Shop Now Button (opens in a new window) (opens in new window)
  • Make a Payment

Free Immersive STEM Program for Students in Grades 6-8 at Fab Lab ICC

  • Posted May 14, 2024

Empowering students with STEM and entrepreneurship skills to help build future success.

Fab Lab ICC is partnering with Verizon and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) to offer a free project-based immersive STEM program, Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers, for middle school students starting on {insert program start date}. 

Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers aims to empower middle school students in under-resourced communities to explore STEM subjects, learn problem-solving skills and gain exposure to career opportunities in technology fields. Participating students will receive mentorship, access to next-gen technology and hands-on training connected to real-world challenges. The initiative provides engaging programming where 6th-8th grade students can learn design thinking, 3D printing, augmented reality, and social entrepreneurship. No prior knowledge or experience is required. 

This program begins with a 3-week in-person session this summer from July 1 – July 19, 2024 and an in-person full-day workshop at Fab Lab ICC in the fall and in the spring. Food and transportation for participating students will be provided! 

Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers is part of the company’s education initiative that helps to address barriers to digital inclusion under Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan to help move the world forward for all. 

To learn more about Verizon Innovative Learning, please visit: www.verizoninnovativelearning.com . 

To register, please https://nacce.formstack.com/forms/2022_2023_vilsap_registration_form_copy_copy_19 . 

About Verizon Innovative Learning 

Verizon Innovative Learning, Verizon’s award-winning education initiative, is celebrating over a decade of commitment to addressing barriers to digital inclusion for students and teachers. Since 2012, the program has committed $1 billion in market value to support digital equity, reaching over 3 million students. Verizon Innovative Learning provides free technology, internet access and emerging technology-infused learning programs to students in under-resourced communities—enabling students to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to build an innovative workforce of the future. In 2021, Verizon launched Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, a next-gen online education portal that provides free access to immersive extended reality (XR) educational experiences to all educators, including K–12 teachers, nationwide. A key program under Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement, Verizon Innovative Learning is helping to drive the company’s goal to provide 10 million youths with digital skills training by 2030. Learn more at citizenverizon.com . 

This site provides information using PDF, visit this link to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software .

program for problem solving

A Philadelphia coalition gets $5.5 million from NIH to promote problem solving for chronic disease management

A n initiative to help Philadelphia residents manage their chronic illnesses has received a $5.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Carmen Alvarez, a nursing professor at the University of Pennsylvania, helps lead the program, which is a partnership between Penn Nursing, Philadelphia’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, and grassroots organizations.

Alvarez has facilitated group sessions to help Latina immigrants with anxiety and depression overcome barriers to treating their conditions. The new project utilizes the same model but focuses on Philadelphia residents with cardiovascular disease.

The four-year NIH grant will go towards training community health workers to lead group sessions in their neighborhoods, and the evaluation of the project.

The Philadelphia Community Engagement Alliance , or Philly CEAL, was formed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to assist city residents to access testing, and as part of a national CEAL program of the NIH . The new project, focused on chronic conditions such as hypertension, aims to build on the relationships that organizations developed over the past year.

The Inquirer spoke to Alvarez in an interview lightly edited for clarity and length.

What is the goal of the program?

We focus on overcoming barriers: things that get in the way of practicing what we know is good for us. For example, a lot of people with hypertension or diabetes know that they need to take medicine, if they’re on medication; do some sort of physical activity; or follow the recommended diet for their condition. But for many people, life gets in the way of doing that.

This is a program where we workshop those barriers. What is it that gets in the way, and what are all the different strategies we can implement to overcome those challenges?

What happens in the group sessions?

This program is designed to be nine sessions. People can meet in person, every other week, for approximately an hour and a half. They start with the knowledge base they’ll need: what is high blood pressure and cholesterol? Why do we care about those numbers? And then they move through the different steps of problem solving and critically thinking through what their barriers are.

What is the benefit of doing the sessions in a group?

One of the best parts, people have told me, is that it’s a group program.

A lot of times when you’re dealing with a chronic condition that other people in your immediate surrounding may not be dealing with, it can feel very isolating and frustrating. And when you’re in a space with people who are experiencing the same barriers, that helps to deal with the stigma and it’s also validating or encouraging. “Oh, I’m not the only one that’s struggling.”

You’re going to listen to differently than perhaps a provider. When it’s someone who you connect with because of shared experiences, I think their voice can be a bit more influential. That’s one of the powers of group support.

How does this program come out of Philly CEAL?

Philly CEAL was intended to address the unequal impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color. And part of that work involved building a community ambassador program, and engaging community health workers in promoting testing, vaccination, and treatments for COVID.

So for this new project, we’ll be training community health workers who have already been embedded in the community. Now they go out and lead their own groups, so that individuals in their communities who are dealing with a cardiovascular health condition can learn the skill that they’re going to need to best manage their condition.

©2024 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Philadelphia

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Here's how you know

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

  • farmers.gov
  • State Offices
  • Wildlife Habitat
  • Invasive Species and Pests
  • State Technical Committees Every state has an NRCS State Technical Committee. The State Technical Committee advises the State Conservationist on technical guidelines necessary to implement the conservation provisions of the Farm Bill.
  • Conservation by State Learn about the conservation needs and latest updates in your state, and access needed resources.
  • State Offices Find contact information for your state office location and employees.

Farmer and agronomist discuss how to improve soil quality.

Soil Science

NRCS delivers science-based soil information to help farmers, ranchers, foresters, and other land managers effectively manage, conserve, and appraise their most valuable investment — the soil.

  • Conservation Technical Assistance Helps producers identify conservation objectives and a roadmap for conservation on their operation.
  • Conservation Concerns Tool Use this tool to learn about natural resource concerns that may impact your ag operation (farmers.gov).
  • Engineering NRCS applies sound engineering tools and principles to plan, design, and implement conservation practices and systems through delegated approval authority.
  • Technical Service Providers Technical service providers offer planning, design, and implementation services to agricultural producers on behalf of NRCS.
  • Act Now Enables states to pre-approve applications when they meet or exceed a state's pre-determined minimum ranking score.
  • Applications and Forms Find more information on how to apply for NRCS conservation programs.
  • Conservation Compliance: Wetlands and Highly Erodible Land Provisions To maintain eligibility for most USDA programs, producers must comply with wetland conservation provisions.
  • How to Apply Follow our step-by-step process to get started making improvements on your land with our one-on-one conservation assistance.
  • Payment Schedules Review the amount and availability of financial assistance for selected conservation practices in your state.
  • Ranking Dates Applications for NRCS conservation programs are ranked and funded at key times throughout the year.
  • Cultural Resources NRCS programs are administered following the National Historic Preservation Act and other laws.
  • Environmental Compliance NRCS programs are administered following the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • Disaster Recovery NRCS can help ag producers and communities recover when natural disasters strike.
  • Underserved Communities Farm Bill special provisions provide incentives and address unique circumstances of historically underserved producers.
  • Nutrient Management This practice helps producers reduce input costs, maximize yields, and efficiently manage nutrients.
  • Organic Agriculture Conservation and organics go hand-in-hand, and NRCS offers tools for organic farmers to improve their operations.
  • Urban Agriculture Conservation assistance is available for urban farmers, including high tunnels, soil health practices, composting and irrigation.

A producer reviews a conservation plan.

Conservation Technical Assistance

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA)  provides our nation’s farmers, ranchers and forestland owners with the knowledge and tools they need to conserve, maintain and restore the natural resources on their lands and improve the health of their operations for the future.

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program Provides assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns.
  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program Brings together partners to expand the reach of NRCS conservation programs.
  • Conservation Innovation Grants Brings together partners to innovate on conservation approaches and technologies.
  • Conservation Stewardship Program Helps agricultural producers take their conservation efforts to the next level.
  • Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program Helps state and tribal governments improve public access to private lands for recreation.
  • Agricultural Management Assistance Helps agricultural producers manage financial risk through diversification, marketing or natural resource conservation practices.
  • Wetland Mitigation Banking Program Offers competitive grants to support wetland mitigation banks for ag producers.
  • Conservation Reserve Program The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides a yearly rental payment to farmers who remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.
  • Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Helps producers protect wetlands, grasslands and farmlands for future generations.
  • Wetland Reserve Easements Helps private and tribal landowners protect, restore, and enhance wetlands degraded by agricultural uses.
  • Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership Brings together partners and producers to protect wetlands.
  • Healthy Forests Reserve Program Helps landowners restore, enhance, and protect forestland resources on private and tribal lands and aids the recovery of endangered and threatened species.
  • Agricultural Land Easements Helps private and tribal landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect croplands and grasslands on working farms and ranches.
  • Emergency Watershed Protection Assists communities recovering from natural disasters.
  • Watershed and Flood Prevention Operation Offers assistance to communities to address watershed resource concerns.
  • Watershed Rehabilitation Rehabilitates NRCS dams to comply with design safety performance standards.
  • Landscape Conservation Initiatives Accelerates conservation benefits through targeted efforts for water quality, water quantity and wildlife.
  • Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Nationwide collaborative process working to maintain and improve the management, productivity, and health of privately owned grazing land.
  • High Tunnel Provides targeted assistance to promote use of high tunnels, which offer many benefits including longer growing season.
  • On-Farm Energy Initiative Assistance to inventory and analyze farm systems that use energy and identify ways to improve efficiency through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan.
  • Sentinel Landscapes Initiative The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership is a coalition of federal agencies, state and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations that work with private landowners.

RPCC

Regional Conservation Partnership Program

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. 

  • Field Office Technical Guides
  • Conservation Practice Standards
  • How to Get a DUNS Number
  • National Soil Survey Handbook
  • Keys to Soil Taxonomy
  • Soil Survey Manual
  • Soil Taxonomy
  • Technical Soil Services Handbook
  • Web Soil Survey
  • PLANTS Database
  • RCA Dataviewer
  • Soil Texture Calculator
  • Official Soil Series Descriptions
  • SSURGO/STATSGO2 Metadata
  • Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP)
  • What is Soil?
  • State Soils
  • Soil Colors
  • Soil Formation and Classification
  • WIN-PST WIN-PST is an environmental risk screening tool for pesticides.
  • WinTR-20 Download WinTR-20 Tool
  • WinTR-55 Download WinTR-55 Tool

seedlings growing in an aquaponic system in a greenhouse.

Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG)

Technical guides are the primary scientific references for NRCS. They contain technical information about the conservation of soil, water, air, and related plant and animal resources.

Swiss chard growing in a field behind rowhouses.

USDA Seeks Members for Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Pr...

Bumblebee perched on a pinkish-purple flower, with greenery in the background. Photo Credit: Lance Cheung, USDA

USDA Conservation Efforts Support Pollinators, Agricultural Production Nationwide

  • Find a Service Center Access local services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Rural Development agencies.
  • Find An Employee Looking for a particular employee of NRCS? Find them in the USDA Employee Directory.
  • State Office Contacts Our State Offices Directory provides contact information for NRCS State Office Representatives.
  • NRCS Careers Looking for a career that can make a difference? Find information about NRCS career opportunities.
  • National Information and Centers Find information about NRCS National Programs and Centers.

Blackfeet Natural Resource Conservation District: Celebrating 25 Years of Conservation and Problem Solving

mountain and body of water

The Blackfeet Natural Resource Conservation District is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year in Browning, Montana.

“When you start with nothing and there’s so much out there, every challenge is an opportunity.”  – Terry Tatsey, founding board member

The Blackfeet Natural Conservation District is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year in Browning, Montana. 25 years of conservation practices and concerns have been addressed and worked on to assist the Blackfeet community. Terry Tatsey, president of the Blackfeet Natural Resource Conservation District (BNRCD), tribal member, and producer living on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, is a founding member of the conservation district and still sits on the board to this day. “In 1999, we actually recruited and got four board members, including myself, to serve as the first founding board members,” Tatsey stated.

The creation of the BNRCD came when there was a need to have access and understand the opportunities the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) programs offered. There was a gap that needed to be filled so the underserved tribal members, farmers, and ranchers would have an equal opportunity and a better chance to apply for programs. Tatsey said, “There was a need to have access and understanding of all these USDA programs and services that were available to us, but we just were not getting educated and understanding what they were.” Tatsey added, “We weren’t very well represented from the county conservation districts... so they felt it was important to form our own Blackfeet resource conservation district.”

11 men and woman standing in two rows

 In 1996, the charter was passed, and the formation of the interim board was created. Verna Billedeaux, current ex officio and Blackfeet Reservation Montana State University extension agent, was an original member of the steering committee. Billedeaux thought it was a perfect fit to participate and work with the board, since everyone involved was associated with agriculture and conservation. “We had to do research of how we wanted to form and that was put together by the tribal council,” Billedeaux said. With the four original members, the BNRCD took on tasks and accomplishments in unknown territory, creating an all-new conservation district. Coming from diverse backgrounds, the board members brought in an array of perspectives. Ranging from farming to livestock, everyone had their own idea of what the conservation district should look like. “I felt that being a tribal conservation district, we should be incorporating our ways and practices of tribal people and how we understood the natural world and using resources,” Tatsey explained. The various perspectives, motivational outlooks, and knowledge all aligned and allowed the board to participate in successful strategic planning sessions to create their vision and mission.  With the strategic planning, they looked at the immediate needs and long-term challenges that they would face. The board needed to create relationships and connections to assist with their goals and getting started. “The immediate thing that we recognized as the Blackfeet Resource Conservation District board was that we didn’t have any communication with the Glacier County Conservation District Board. We didn’t have any communication with the Pondera Conservation District. So, we started building those relationships, started building those partnerships and what that did was [allow] those discussions with the other two boards,” Tatsey said.

NRCS was there to assist with funding, types of projects, and resource concerns that the Blackfeet community wanted to address from the beginning. With conversations and collaboration still ongoing, the relationship between NRCS and BNRCD is still actively building and growing. Thedis Crowe, former NRCS district conservationist, was involved in the creation of the conservation district. Being an NRCS employee and growing up on the Blackfeet Reservation, Crowe was an instrumental voice and resource in the development on the BNRCD. Stacy Eneboe, former NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist for the Conrad Work Unit, was also around and involved during the fruition of BNRCD. Eneboe went on to explain, “We were gearing our workload and expectations to meet their goals and objectives for the Blackfeet producers.” 

An immediate challenge that Tatsey noticed was bridging the gap between tribal and Western world perspectives of agriculture, understanding the meaning of conservation, and how it would fit into the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Tatsey explained, “The old ways of conservation, you didn't look at the animal, you didn't look at the plant, you didn't look at that rock, you didn't look at that water as something separate. Those were your relatives. The Western world, those animals become possessions and that's the difference in the challenges, as a tribal conservation district member, that you got to understand and figure out how to bridge those and find some balance.” 

An ongoing task that the BNRCD board faces is recruiting new members. All board members are volunteers, giving their time and effort to improve the resource conservation district and community. Currently, there are six to seven active members. It can be overwhelming being a volunteer on the board and finding the balance between your job, personal life, and contributing as a board member. Tatsey said, “Sometimes when you’re volunteering, it’s more work than your other obligations. It’s your whole life and your full-time job. It’s challenging, it’s taxing, but if you believe in it, believing in what you’re doing, you just keep plugging away.”

9 men and women sitting and standing

Taking the challenge head on, Wayne Smith, vice-chairman of the BNRCD board, tribal member, and producer living on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, sat on the board for a few years before recently becoming the vice-chairman. Smith commented, “I'm a farmer and rancher and I saw that we’ve been fighting to improve things here. That was the whole idea behind it is to put the Blackfeet producers and people in charge of the future and that includes agriculture to culture, water, and it encompasses pretty much everything we deal with on a daily basis.” Smith went on to say, “We’ve been really concentrating on climate change and then our water resources and trying to get that up and into the limelight, you know, address our needs now and then in the future.”

A major accomplishment that the BNRCD completed was a range inventory on the reservation. The last time an inventory was completed was in the 1960s. This outdated data led to inaccurate rangeland lease fees and caused negative effects to the natural resources. “Some were paying more for a resource that wasn’t even there. So, you know, we can hurt our grassland resource by not managing what’s there,” Billedeaux said. “NRCS has helped over the years with different stages of range inventory for them,” Eneboe commented. BNRCD was able to work with NRCS and do long term planning to coordinate resources and complete the first range inventory in years.

 A huge accomplishment that the BNRCD has been working on is the Blackfeet Agriculture Resource Management Plan (ARMP). Billedeaux said, “It is a plan that says here’s all of our resources, here’s from departments to actual resources to everything. Agriculture is what we have. What can we do to improve upon this and do more with agriculture.” This plan is years in the making and will be a massive asset to the Blackfeet Nation. “Even though it’s a written and approved document, we like to look at it as a living, breathing document,” said Smith who went on to say, “I saw what it could do and what the overall objective of it is. And, you know, like I say, to put more control for the producers here, to be able to control our future and our destiny.” Not only is the ARMP a plan to help natural resources within the reservation, but it also inspired new members for the BNRCD board. Smith attended ARMP meetings before he found out about the BNRCD board and joined.

Every member, original and new, has their own vision of priorities and goals for the BNRCD for the next 25 years. Billedeaux hopes for the board to grow, have more board members, and keep inspiring conservation in agriculture. “I would like to see more people come to the table and be a bigger part of it. We get a lot of folks that come in and are part of the board that really know what it’s about and are a part of it and have great ideas... I would really like to see this continue, so that these up-and-coming agriculturists and conservationists can be a part of the change,” Billedeaux stated. Tatsey commented he would like to see more office locations in the isolated areas of the Blackfeet reservation, a comprehensive plan, and practices in place, and to see more native plants back in the area. Tatsey said, “If we could get good range management, soil management, people management going, that would be a good 25-year project.”

The Blackfeet Natural Resource Conservation District and its board members have made great strides in 25 years, we cannot wait to see what happens in the next 25.

program for problem solving

University of Washington Information School

Media literacy coalition brings misinfoday to california.

Inspired by the annual MisinfoDay co-organized through a statewide partnership between the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication , a local media literacy coalition in Monterey County, California adapted the educational program to host the first MisinfoDay in the Golden State on May 7.

Nearly 100 students from six high schools in Monterey County participated in MisinfoDay California workshops on algorithmic bias and identifying fake or misleading online information, and interactive activities, including a misinformation “escape room” style game developed by the CIP-led Loki’s Loop team at the UW Information School. 

The Media Literacy Coalition in Monterey County, led by local journalist and community activist Susan Meister, includes educators, news organizations, community stakeholders and public officials.

Jim Boren, the former executive editor of the Fresno Bee and current executive director of the Fresno State Institute for Media and Public Trust , wrote in a blog post : “The students had no prior formal media literacy skills, yet they embraced the training with remarkable ease. In watching this event, I knew that this generation of students can be taught media literacy skills that they can pass on to their classmates, family members and friends. They represent a generation of hope at a time when misinformation on the internet seems overwhelming.”

Boren was one of MisinfoDay California’s presenters, along with CIP co-founder and UW Information School associate professor Jevin West and Liz Crouse, the CIP’s MisinfoDay program coordinator who helped launch the first MisinfoDay at UW Seattle in 2019 as a Master of Library and Information Science student at the iSchool. 

“It was truly inspiring to see the organizers take the MisinfoDay model and make it work so successfully for their community. Students had fun learning about misinformation tactics and how to check things they’re unsure of, and teachers were excited to bring these lessons back to their schools and districts,” Crouse said. “We’re thrilled to support this work in California and around the country.”

Among the California media literacy advocates who have championed MisinfoDay in their state is State Assemblymember Marc Berman of Menlo Park, who spearheaded A.B. 873 , legislation that requires California schools to incorporate media literacy into core curricula. Berman, whose legislation was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2023, said, according to Boren, that we “have a responsibility to teach the next generation to be more critical consumers of online content and more guarded against misinformation, propaganda, and conspiracy theories.”

In an interview with KAZU Public Radio in Monterey County , Berman said that he hopes that “Misinfo Day is going to be such a huge success that more and more people kind of hear about it and learn about it and want to replicate it.”

Additional media literacy educational events are being planned in California. Meister told the Monterey County Weekly , another member of the local Media Literacy Coalition, that more MisinfoDay events are planned for Media Literacy Week in October. Boren, meanwhile, said that the Fresno State Institute for Media and Public Trust is looking to organize a similar event. 

In a recent staff editorial, the student newspaper at Redwood High School in Redwood City, California called for their school and schools nationwide to host their own MisinfoDay events . “Media literacy education and lessons on safe social media use offer important insight to be able to decipher misinformation from the truth. High school-age youth must have the capacity to decipher true and false information, and media literacy only continues to gain importance in this fast-paced world.” 

In March, nearly 700 high school students, teachers and librarians in Washington participated in MisinfoDay 2024 events at UW Seattle, WSU Pullman and WSU Vancouver, with scores of teachers from 10 other states registering their classes to participate in virtual MisinfoDay programming.  “The whole motivation for this program was to spend an entire day which might be the only day that many of these students will devote to this, what I consider one of the more important things that we can be teaching our public,” West told KUOW Public Radio’s Kim Malcolm in a segment that aired in March on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”

This article was first published on the Center for an Informed Public's website.

Full Results

Customize your experience.

program for problem solving

IMAGES

  1. 5 step problem solving method

    program for problem solving

  2. 6 Ways to Improve Your Programming Problem Solving

    program for problem solving

  3. Six Steps to Solving a Programming Problem Infographic

    program for problem solving

  4. Problem-Solving Strategies: Definition and 5 Techniques to Try

    program for problem solving

  5. 5 step problem solving method

    program for problem solving

  6. 39 Best Problem-Solving Examples (2024)

    program for problem solving

VIDEO

  1. NPTEL Assignment week 6 program

  2. EPL Zipping

  3. Problem solving

  4. Unlock Success with an Entrepreneurial Mindset: Transform Problems into Opportunities!

  5. Lecture 1 C++ Problem, Program, Problems Solving and Algorithms with C++

  6. C program problem solve: Solving switch-case question

COMMENTS

  1. How to think like a programmer

    Simplest means you know the answer (or are closer to that answer). After that, simplest means this sub-problem being solved doesn't depend on others being solved. Once you solved every sub-problem, connect the dots. Connecting all your "sub-solutions" will give you the solution to the original problem. Congratulations!

  2. What is Problem Solving? An Introduction

    As you can see, problem solving plays a pivotal role in software engineering. Far from being an occasional requirement, it is the lifeblood that drives development forward, catalyzes innovation, and delivers of quality software. By leveraging problem-solving techniques, software engineers employ a powerful suite of strategies to overcome ...

  3. The 10 Best Problem-Solving Software to Use in 2024

    2. Omnex Systems. via Omnex. Omnex's problem-solving software has many helpful features to track, manage, and solve problems quickly. It's a one-stop shop for dealing with internal and external issues. The platform is also customer-centric, which responds to customers in their preferred formats.

  4. Learn Essential Problem Solving Skills

    The Problem Solving courses listed are structured to enhance skills in critical thinking, decision-making, and innovative solutions across various fields, making learners adept at tackling complex challenges effectively. ... Computer Program (20) Data Structure (19) Algebra (12) Computer Vision (10) Discrete Mathematics (10) Graph Theory (10 ...

  5. Problems

    Boost your coding interview skills and confidence by practicing real interview questions with LeetCode. Our platform offers a range of essential problems for practice, as well as the latest questions being asked by top-tier companies.

  6. Problem Solving

    Problem solving is writing an original program that performs a particular set of tasks and meets all stated constraints. The set of tasks can range from solving small coding exercises all the way up to building a social network site like Facebook or a search engine like Google.

  7. 35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving complex problems

    You might develop a training program, run a problem-solving workshop or simply ask your team to practice using the techniques below. Check out our post on problem-solving skills to see how you and your group can develop the right mental process and be more resilient to issues too! Design a great agenda. Workshops are a great format for solving ...

  8. How to Develop Problem Solving Skills in Programming

    Keeping Ideas on Track. Ideas always help much in improving the skills; they also help to gain more knowledge and more command over things. In problem solving situations, these ideas help much and help to develop more skills. Give opportunities for the mind and keep on noting the ideas.

  9. Java Programming: Solving Problems with Software

    4. Debug a Java program using the scientific method; 5. Write a Java method to solve a specific problem; 6. Develop a set of test cases as part of developing a program; 7. Create a class with multiple methods that work together to solve a problem; and 8. Use divide-and-conquer design techniques for a program that uses multiple methods.

  10. What is Problem Solving? Steps, Process & Techniques

    Finding a suitable solution for issues can be accomplished by following the basic four-step problem-solving process and methodology outlined below. Step. Characteristics. 1. Define the problem. Differentiate fact from opinion. Specify underlying causes. Consult each faction involved for information. State the problem specifically.

  11. Future Problem Solving Program International

    As our world and educators are confronted with a range of unprecedented challenges, Future Problem Solving helps students keep pace. Our standard-based and skill-based programs meaningfully engage young people in all the places and spaces they learn. With Future Problem Solving, students learn how to think, not what to think, and gain lifelong ...

  12. How to improve your problem solving skills and strategies

    6. Solution implementation. This is what we were waiting for! All problem solving strategies have the end goal of implementing a solution and solving a problem in mind. Remember that in order for any solution to be successful, you need to help your group through all of the previous problem solving steps thoughtfully.

  13. Problem-Solving Strategies for Software Engineers

    Write out the problem. Your problem won't always come right out and say: "It's me, hi. I'm the problem, it's me.". In fact, something that often gets in the way of solving a problem is that we zero in on the wrong problem. When pinpointing a problem, you can try borrowing a UX research technique that's part of the design thinking ...

  14. 10 Steps to Solving a Programming Problem

    The goal is to take all the even numbers and return them in an array. If there are no even numbers, return an empty array. 2. Work through the problem manually with at least three sets of sample data. Take out a piece of paper and work through the problem manually.

  15. Art of Problem Solving

    Art of Problem Solving offers two other multifaceted programs. Beast Academy is our comic-based online math curriculum for students ages 6-13. ... View a full comparison of our program offerings. Free Student Resources. Art of Problem Solving offers a wide variety of free resources for avid problem solvers, including hundreds of videos and ...

  16. Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders

    4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need. 1. Problem Framing. One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you're trying to solve.

  17. What is Problem Solving? (Steps, Techniques, Examples)

    The problem-solving process typically includes the following steps: Identify the issue: Recognize the problem that needs to be solved. Analyze the situation: Examine the issue in depth, gather all relevant information, and consider any limitations or constraints that may be present. Generate potential solutions: Brainstorm a list of possible ...

  18. Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

    Problem-solving is an essential skill in today's fast-paced and ever-changing workplace. It requires a systematic approach that incorporates effective decision-making. Throughout this course, we will learn an overarching process of identifying problems to generate potential solutions, then apply decision-making styles in order to implement and ...

  19. Online Coding Practice Problems & Challenges

    Medium Java puzzles. Puzzles contain a problem and a pre-defined solution. But the solution is either incomplete and your task is to complete it (Code Completion Puzzle). Or the solution is wrong and your task is to debug it (Debugging Puzzle). 118 Problems. Beginner level. Sharpen your coding skills with CodeChef.

  20. Introduction to Problem Solving Skills

    Today's employers look for the following skills in new employees: to analyze a problem logically, formulate a solution, and effectively communicate with others. In this video, industry professionals share their own problem solving processes, the problem solving expectations of their employees, and an example of how a problem was solved.

  21. Problem solving

    Problem solving is the process of achieving a goal by overcoming obstacles, a frequent part of most activities. Problems in need of solutions range from simple personal tasks (e.g. how to turn on an appliance) to complex issues in business and technical fields. The former is an example of simple problem solving (SPS) addressing one issue ...

  22. DBT Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adoles

    DBT STEPS-A aims to help adolescents "build a life worth living" by developing skills such as emotion management, relationship building, and decision-making to help them navigate challenging situations and stressors that can arise during adolescence. DBT STEPS-A's approach is grounded in the idea that two seemingly opposing facts can both ...

  23. Problem Solving Therapy

    Dawn Hasemann, Ph.D. is currently the Program Manager (BHM2) for Kaiser Permanente's Virtual ADAPT program in Livermore and San Leandro. ... Have you heard of Problem-Solving Therapy or PST? PST, developed in 1971, is an evidence-based treatment useful for treating a variety of populations and mental health conditions. This course covers the ...

  24. Free Immersive STEM Program for Students in Grades 6-8 at Fab Lab ICC

    This program begins with a 3-week in-person session this summer from July 1 - July 19, 2024 and an in-person full-day workshop at Fab Lab ICC in the fall and in the spring. Food and transportation for participating students will be provided! ... learn problem-solving skills and gain exposure to career opportunities in technology fields ...

  25. 7 Problem-Solving Skills That Can Help You Be a More ...

    Although problem-solving is a skill in its own right, a subset of seven skills can help make the process of problem-solving easier. These include analysis, communication, emotional intelligence, resilience, creativity, adaptability, and teamwork. 1. Analysis. As a manager, you'll solve each problem by assessing the situation first.

  26. A Philadelphia coalition gets $5.5 million from NIH to promote problem

    A Philadelphia coalition gets $5.5 million from NIH to promote problem solving for chronic disease management. ... This is a program where we workshop those barriers. What is it that gets in the ...

  27. Blackfeet Natural Resource Conservation District: Celebrating 25 Years

    The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides a yearly rental payment to farmers who remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. ... Celebrating 25 Years of Conservation and Problem Solving . Topics. Montana. Publish Date. May 13, 2024. Breadcrumb.

  28. Media literacy coalition brings MisinfoDay to California

    Inspired by the annual MisinfoDay co-organized through a statewide partnership between the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University's Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, a local media literacy coalition in Monterey County, California adapted the educational program to host the first MisinfoDay in the Golden State on May 7.