Can opinions solve a problem

Successful problem solving

In the article "Successful Problem Solving" a method is shown to identify and solve problems. The problem-solving process is divided into six steps. At the end of the solution process, it is possible to transfer the solution approaches to similar problem cases.


Every day we are confronted with situations or developments that we consider unpleasant. This situation needs to be remedied.

In most cases we act on the basis of our experience and our intuitions. It is possible to solve the problems with this base. Unfortunately, finding solutions is usually very tedious and optimal solutions are seldom found.

Today there are many methods that show us how to effectively address problems. All methods can be traced back to a simple basic process, which consists of four steps and is based on the cause-effect principle. In short: if you are not satisfied with something, there is a reason for it. This cause must be found and then changed. This also fixes the problem.

All problem-solving processes can be traced back to a generic approach:

Problem definition: what is the problem?

The problem-solving process always starts with a clear description of the problem. For this it is helpful to describe two states:

  1. What are we not satisfied with today?
  2. What would be the desired situation?

The gap between the two states (is and should) can be described as the real problem. The more precisely these two states are described (ZDF: numbers, data, facts), the more clearly the problem is described, which helps to make the solution process more effective.

Root cause analysis: why does it exist?

The second step is to determine the causes of the problem. Only when it is possible to get to the root of the problem can a problem solution be sustainably implemented. It makes sense to proceed in two steps.

  1. Why is it that we have the problem?
  2. Why is it actually?

In the first step, possible causes are listed, which are then broken down further if necessary. In the second step, the causes are confirmed with facts. At the end of this process, there may be one or more confirmed causes that are then followed up. Finding the possible causes can be difficult in some cases. A very good way is to fall back on existing concepts that reduce complex relationships to the essential factors. Examples of such concepts are: Porter's value chain (value chain (according to Porter)), 4 P's of marketing, etc.

Alternative solutions: what can we do?

Once the causes have been determined, the next step is to work out possible alternative solutions. The main question here is what options are available to us to remedy the causes. Solutions can be found quickly and intuitively here. But it is often the case that only the application of creativity techniques lead to an attractive alternative solution.

Suggested solution: what do we want to do?

There are usually several alternative solutions available. Which alternative solution is the best? After criteria have been determined that should meet an optimal solution, this question is relatively easy to answer. Once the criteria have been defined, all the alternatives that have been collected are evaluated according to the criteria. This systematic approach is called a utility analysis. There are several options as a rating scale (e.g. traffic light system, Harvey Balls, or simply number scales from 1 - 3, 1 - 6, 1-10).

Once the alternative solution has been assessed, a decision can be made. If the decision has to be communicated, the evaluation criteria are ideally reformulated into arguments.


Problems of the same type often occur in more than one area. Therefore, at the end of the solution process, it is very worthwhile to ask yourself what we can learn from the solution. If the same problem can occur at another point, we are able to take the right measures in advance so that the problem does not occur in the first place.


1. Barbara Minto: The principle of the pyramid: Communicating ideas clearly, comprehensibly and successfully (Pearson Verlag, 2005).

2. Jeffrey K. Liker: The Toyota way: Quality management as a success factor: 14 management principles of the world's most successful automotive company (FinanzBook Verlag, 2012).

Author: Achim Sztuka