The Six Step Problem Solving Model

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What is The Six Step Problem Solving Model?

The Six Step Problem Solving Model is a widely recognized and effective approach to addressing and resolving complex problems in personal and professional settings. This model provides a structured and systematic process for analyzing, identifying, and resolving issues, making it an indispensable tool for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Problem-solving is the process of identifying and resolving issues or obstacles that hinder the attainment of a goal. It is a critical skill that is highly valued in both personal and professional settings.

Whether you are a business owner, an employee, or an individual, the ability to solve problems effectively is essential for success.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity are among the top skills that will be in demand in the job market by 2025.

This highlights the importance of problem-solving as a skill in the professional world. However, problem-solving is not limited to the workplace, it is also crucial in everyday life.

For instance, when faced with a personal challenge or a difficult situation, the ability to identify and solve the problem is key to achieving a desirable outcome.

The Six Step Problem Solving Model was first introduced by Kepner and Tregoe in the 1960s, who were management consultants known for their work in the field of decision-making and problem-solving. They proposed a rational and logical approach that was based on a rigorous analysis of the problem and its underlying causes, followed by a deliberate and careful selection of solutions that would address the root cause of the problem.

Since then, the Six Step Problem Solving Model has been widely adopted and modified by many organizations and industries, and it continues to be a useful and effective tool for addressing complex issues in a structured and systematic manner.

In this article, we will explore each step of the model in detail and provide examples of how it can be applied in real-world situations.

I have listed below all Six Steps in detail:

Step 1: Identify The Problem

Identifying the problem is the first step in the Six-Step Problem Solving Model. This step is critical because it sets the foundation for the rest of the problem-solving process.

The four sub-steps of this stage include:

Selection of the problem to be analyzed

The first sub-step in this stage is to select the problem that needs to be analyzed. This could be any issue that is causing problems for your personal or professional life. It could be a product or service that is not meeting customer expectations, a process that is causing delays, or any other problem that needs to be addressed.

Clear definition of the problem and establishment of a precise problem statement

Once you have identified the problem to be analyzed, the next step is to define it clearly and establish a precise problem statement. This step involves defining the problem in clear and concise terms so that everyone involved in the problem-solving process understands the issue at hand.

For example, if the problem is related to product quality, the problem statement could be: “Our product is not meeting the quality standards expected by our customers, which is resulting in negative feedback and decreased sales.”

Setting a measurable goal for the problem-solving effort

After defining the problem, the next step is to set a measurable goal for the problem-solving effort. This goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound ( SMART ). The goal should be aligned with the overall objectives of the organization and should focus on addressing the root cause of the problem.

For example, if the problem is related to product quality, the goal could be: “To improve product quality by reducing defects by 50% within the next three months.”

Establishing a process for coordinating with and gaining approval of leadership

The final sub-step in this stage is to establish a process for coordinating with and gaining approval of leadership. This involves identifying the stakeholders who will be involved in the problem-solving process and obtaining their buy-in and support for the process.

For example, if the problem is related to product quality, the stakeholders could include the quality control team, production team, and senior management. It is important to involve all stakeholders in the process to ensure that everyone is aligned and committed to finding a solution to the problem.

Step 2: Analyze The Problem

Identification of the processes that impact the problem and selection of one.

To analyze the problem effectively, you need to identify the processes that impact the problem and select one. The selected process should be relevant to the problem and the one that can be analyzed to identify the root cause.

For example, if a company is experiencing a high employee turnover rate, the process that needs to be analyzed could be the hiring process, employee training process, or employee feedback process.

Listing the steps in the process as it currently exists

Once you have identified the process, you need to list all the steps in the process as it currently exists. This will help you identify where the problem is occurring and what steps need to be changed to solve the problem.

For instance, in the case of employee turnover rate, the steps in the hiring process could be job posting, resume screening, initial interview, background check, reference check, and final interview.

Mapping the process

After listing the steps, you need to map the process. This involves creating a visual representation of the process flow. Mapping the process helps in identifying the bottlenecks, redundancies, and inefficiencies in the process.

Validation of the map of the process

The next step is to validate the map of the process. This involves reviewing the map with the stakeholders involved in the process and confirming that it accurately represents the process flow.

Identification of potential causes of the problem

With the process map validated, the next step is to identify potential causes of the problem. This can be done by brainstorming with the stakeholders and identifying the areas where the process is not functioning effectively.

For instance, in the hiring process, potential causes of employee turnover rate could be a lack of a comprehensive background check, inadequate employee training, or poor job fit.

Collection and analysis of data related to the problem

After identifying potential causes, you need to collect and analyze data related to the problem. This can include employee feedback surveys, turnover data, job satisfaction data, and any other relevant data.

Verification or revision of the original problem statement

Based on the analysis, you may need to verify or revise the original problem statement. This ensures that the problem statement accurately reflects the problem being solved.

Identification of root causes of the problem

With the data analyzed, you can identify the root causes of the problem. Root causes are the underlying reasons why the problem is occurring.

For example, in the hiring process, the root cause of employee turnover could be the inadequate employee training, which leads to employees feeling unprepared for the job.

Collection of additional data if needed to verify root causes

To verify the root causes identified, you may need to collect additional data. This ensures that the solutions developed address the actual root cause of the problem, leading to long-term and sustainable solutions.

The second step of the Six Step Problem Solving Model is critical in identifying the root cause of the problem. By analyzing the process and identifying potential causes and root causes, you can develop effective solutions to solve the problem.

Step 3: Develop The Solutions

After identifying the root causes of the problem, it’s time to develop solutions. This step involves the following:

Establishment of criteria for selecting a solution

When selecting a solution, it’s important to establish criteria that will help in evaluating and selecting the best solution. The criteria should be measurable, objective, and specific to the problem. Some criteria that can be used include:

  • Feasibility: Can the solution be implemented with the available resources?
  • Effectiveness: Will the solution solve the problem?
  • Cost: Is the cost of the solution within the budget?
  • Time: Will the solution be implemented within the required time frame?

Generation of potential solutions that will address the root causes of the problem

Brainstorming is a great way to generate potential solutions. Gather a team of individuals who are knowledgeable about the problem and its root causes. Encourage them to think creatively and come up with as many potential solutions as possible. It’s important to involve stakeholders who will be affected by the solution in the brainstorming process to ensure that their concerns are considered.

Use any of the 12 techniques of brainstorming from our brainstorming toolbox .

Selection of a solution

Once potential solutions have been generated, it’s time to select the best one. Use the established criteria to evaluate each solution and determine which one is the best fit. It’s important to involve stakeholders in the selection process to ensure buy-in and support for the chosen solution.

Gaining approval and support for the chosen solution

Before implementing the solution, it’s important to gain approval and support from leadership and other stakeholders. Present the chosen solution and its benefits to the decision-makers, and address any concerns they may have. Get their approval and support before moving forward with implementation.

Planning the solution

After gaining approval, it’s time to plan the solution. This involves creating an action plan that outlines the steps needed to implement the solution, who will be responsible for each step, and when each step will be completed. It’s important to have a realistic timeline and to involve all stakeholders in the planning process. Ensure that resources are available for implementation, and that all necessary training and communication plans are in place.

Step 4: Implement A Solution

Once the solution has been selected and approved, it’s time to put the plan into action. This step involves implementing the chosen solution on a trial or pilot basis to see how it performs. Here are the key components of this step:

Implementation of the chosen solution on a trial or pilot basis

Before implementing the solution fully, it’s important to test it out on a smaller scale to see how it works. This allows you to identify any potential problems or issues and make adjustments as needed. By implementing the solution on a trial or pilot basis, you can ensure that it will work effectively when it’s rolled out more broadly.

If the Problem Solving Process is being used as a standalone, continue to Step 5

If the Six Step Problem Solving Model is being used as a standalone process, it’s time to move on to Step 5, which involves evaluating the results of the solution. This step is critical to ensure that the solution is working as intended and achieving the desired results.

Step 5: Evaluate The Results

Gathering of data on the solution.

Once the chosen solution has been implemented, it is important to gather data on its effectiveness. This data can come in various forms, such as customer feedback, sales figures, or productivity metrics. The key is to gather enough data to make an informed decision about the success or failure of the solution.

Analysis of the data on the solution

After collecting the necessary data, it is important to analyze it thoroughly to determine whether or not the solution has achieved the desired results. This analysis can involve statistical methods, surveys, or other evaluation techniques. The goal is to determine whether or not the solution has been successful and to identify any areas where improvements can be made.

Achievement of the desired results?

Based on the analysis of the data, it is necessary to determine whether or not the solution has achieved the desired results. This can involve comparing the actual results to the goals established in Step 1, or it can involve evaluating the overall impact of the solution on the organization or individual.

If YES, go to Step 6.

If the solution has achieved the desired results, it is time to move on to Step 6. This step involves standardizing the solution and capitalizing on any new opportunities that may have arisen as a result of the problem-solving process.

If NO, go back to Step 1.

If the solution has not achieved the desired results, it is necessary to go back to Step 1 and repeat the problem-solving process. This may involve refining the problem statement, identifying new potential causes, or generating new potential solutions. The key is to remain flexible and open to new ideas throughout the problem-solving process.

Step 6: Standardize The Solution (and Capitalize on New Opportunities)

Once the solution has been implemented and evaluated, it’s time to standardize the solution and capitalize on new opportunities. This step involves making sure that the solution is integrated into the organization’s standard operating procedures and that everyone involved knows how to use it effectively.

Identification of Systemic Changes and Training Needs for Full Implementation

When identifying systemic changes, it’s important to look at how the solution fits into the larger context of the organization. This includes looking at processes, policies, and procedures to see where changes need to be made to fully implement the solution.

Training is also crucial in the standardization process. Employees need to know how to use the solution properly and effectively. This can include training on new processes, tools, and technologies.

Adoption of the Solution

Once the solution has been standardized, it’s time to adopt it fully. This means integrating it into the organization’s operations and ensuring that everyone is using it consistently. This can involve making changes to job descriptions, updating policies and procedures, and making sure that everyone has the necessary tools and resources to use the solution effectively.

Planning Ongoing Monitoring of the Solution

Even after the solution has been adopted, it’s important to continue monitoring its effectiveness. This can involve setting up monitoring and reporting systems to track progress and identify areas for improvement. Regular review meetings can also help to keep the solution on track and ensure that it is meeting the organization’s goals and objectives.

Continuing to Look for Incremental Improvements to Refine the Solution

While the solution may have solved the initial problem, there is always room for improvement. This can involve looking for ways to make the solution more efficient, effective, or user-friendly. This can include gathering feedback from employees and customers, analyzing data to identify areas for improvement, and looking for ways to optimize processes and procedures.

Looking for Another Improvement Opportunity

Finally, it’s important to keep looking for new improvement opportunities. The Six Step Problem Solving Model is an iterative process, and there is always room for improvement. This can involve looking at other areas of the organization that could benefit from problem-solving and using the same process to identify and implement solutions.

In conclusion, the six-step problem-solving model is an effective approach for addressing problems and making improvements in personal and professional settings. The model involves identifying the problem, analyzing it, developing solutions, implementing the solution, evaluating the results, and standardizing the solution.

To summarize, the six steps of problem-solving include:

  • Identify the problem
  • Analyze the problem
  • Develop the solutions
  • Implement the solution
  • Evaluate the results
  • Standardize the solution (and capitalize on new opportunities)

Problem-solving and continuous improvement are critical skills for personal and professional growth.

By utilizing this model, individuals and organizations can become more efficient, productive, and effective in addressing challenges and achieving their goals.

  • American Society for Quality. (2019). Root Cause Analysis .
  • Hames, S. (2017). The 5 Whys Method
  • Fass, M. (2020). The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process. Harvard Business Review .
  • The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process by the University of California, San Francisco
  • The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace by The Balance Careers.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

  • Select the problem to be analyzed
  • Clearly define the problem and establish aprecise problem statement
  • Set a measurable goal for the problem solving effort
  • Establish a process for coordinating with and gaining approval of leadership
  • Identify the processes that impact the problem and select one
  • List the steps in the process as it currently exists
  • Map the Process
  • Validate the map of the process
  • Identify potential cause of the problem
  • Collect and analyze data related to the problem
  • Verify or revise the original problem statement
  • Identify root causes of the problem
  • Collect additional data if needed to verify root causes
  • Establish criteria for selecting a solution
  • Generate potential solutions that will address the root causes of the problem
  • Select a solution
  • Gain approval and supporter the chosen solution
  • Plan the solution
  • Implement the chosen solution on a trial or pilot basis
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used in conjunction with the Continuous Improvement Process, return to Step 6 of the Continuous Improvement Process
  • If the Problem Solving Process is being used as a standalone, continue to Step 5
  • Gather data on the solution
  • Analyze the data on the solution
  • Achive the desired results?
  • If YES, go to Step 6. 
  • If NO, go back to Step 1.
  • Identify systemic changes and training needs for full implementation
  • Adopt the solution
  • Plan ongoing monitoring of the solution
  • Continue to look for incremental improvements to refine the solution
  • Look for another improvement opportunity

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Tim, This is a good guideline for any practitioner to follow. I wish I had this a few weeks ago. A client liked a training deck I prepared but didn't want to confuse anyone with terms like Deming Cycle and such. The final version of PDCA was a 6 step process improvement method that's very similar to yours. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Chris

Thank you for you brief and easy to understand on each step problem solving above.

Wonderful. Well Explained. Thank you for sharing

I mapped this to PDCA and observed that the first 3 steps correspond to P, the next 3 to D, C and A respectively. This Show that indeed planning is the most important step in PDCA.

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This six-step model is designed for the workplace, but is easily adaptable to other settings such as schools and families.  It emphasizes the cyclical , continuous nature of the problem-solving process .  The model describes in detail the following steps:

Step One:   Define the Problem

Step Two:   Determine the Root Cause(s) of the Problem

Step Three:   Develop Alternative Solutions

Step Four:   Select a Solution

Step Five:   Implement the Solution

Step Six:   Evaluate the Outcome

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

Six Steps to Effective Problem Solving Within Organizations

  • Dr. Nancy Zentis
  • March 20, 2015

Six Steps to Effective Problem Solving Within Organizations article


  Managers and their subordinates sometimes lack the problem-solving skills necessary to move things forward within their organizations. Luckily, OD process consulting focused towards problem solving training can be an effective antidote to this, as it helps in building critical skills to handle a possible deadlock.

Problem solving training is an intervention tool that helps managers and employees develop critical thinking skills to sharpen their logic, reasoning, and problem-defining capability. Problem solving training also helps develop abilities to evaluate causation, analyze alternatives, and select and execute solutions. This training is an integral part of organizational efforts to introducing quality management programs as it helps define a process to manage problems.

In this article, we will introduce the six-step problem solving process defined by Edgar Schein, so that teams trained in this can find the best solution to a problem and create an action plan.

Why Use a Problem Solving Process?

Since problems can be many and root causes hidden, it may take an extended period of time to come to a solution. Developing a team to help search for answers and formulating a decision is advantageous to improving organizational quality and efficiency.

OD Problem Solving Process based on Edgar H. Schein’s Approach

OD expert, Edgar Schein along with other OD experts suggested that a process that helps in problem-solving, steers groups to successful outcomes. Schein’s approach is presented in a model that investigates problem definition, brainstorming, group decision-making, idea development, action planning, and assessment.

As an OD consultant, you can use this process to improve communication,  strengthen group cohesion, and make effective decisions.

  • Problem Definition .  Identify problems through  problem formulation and questioning. The key is asking the  right questions to discover root causes.
  • Brainstorming .  During this process,  assumptions are uncovered  and underlying problems are further revealed. Also, this is an opportunity to collect and analyze data.
  • Selection . Decisions are made within the group to  determine the appropriate solution and process  through creative selection .
  • Development .  Once the group has formed solutions and alternatives to the problem(s), they need to explore the pros and cons of each option through  forecasting consequences .
  • Action Planning . Develop an  action plan to implement and execute the solution process.
  • Assessment . This final stage requires an  evaluation of the outcomes and results of the solution process. Ask questions such as: Did the option answer the questions we were working on? Did this process address the findings that came out of the assumptions?

​ This process makes group problem solving in projects and meetings agreeable, action-oriented, and productive. Without a process, it can become challenging for teams or groups to create the best solutions and establish a plan of action.

Do tell us about the problem solving methods you use within your organization. We would love to hear from you.

Reference: Schein, E.H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership, (Vol 2). John Wiley & Sons.

About the Author:  Valamere S. Mikler is the founder and principal consultant of V.S.M. Professional Services and Consulting, a consulting firm providing organizational efficiency and administrative office management services. She can be reached at  [email protected] .

Additional Information: The Institute of Organization Development offers certification in OD Process Consulting. You can become certified as an OD Process Consultant and play an important role as a partner to make the organization more effective and help to align organizational changes with the strategy, culture, structure, systems, skills, and people. To learn more or register, please check out our website: www. or email us at [email protected].


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Performance Management involves establishing systems and processes to monitor, assess, and improve employee performance. Consultants work with organizations to design and implement performance management frameworks that align with organizational goals and values. This includes setting clear performance expectations, defining key performance indicators (KPIs), establishing regular feedback and coaching mechanisms, conducting performance evaluations, and linking performance outcomes to rewards and recognition. Performance management systems aim to drive individual and team performance, align employee efforts with organizational objectives, and support employee development.

Job Redesign/Analysis

Job Redesign/Analysis is the process of reevaluating and modifying job roles and responsibilities to optimize efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction. Consultants analyze existing job descriptions, tasks, and workflows to identify opportunities for improvement. They may conduct job analyses to determine essential skills, competencies, and qualifications required for each role. Based on these findings, consultants provide recommendations for job redesign, such as clarifying roles and responsibilities, redistributing tasks, and implementing automation or technology solutions to streamline processes and enhance job satisfaction.

Executive Coaching, Competency Development, 360° Feedback

Executive Coaching, Competency Development, and 360 Feedback are individual-focused strategies that aim to enhance leadership and professional effectiveness. Consultants provide executive coaching services to senior leaders, offering personalized guidance, support, and feedback to help leaders develop their strengths, address developmental areas, and enhance their leadership capabilities. Competency development involves identifying and developing specific skills and competencies required for success in particular roles or functions. 360-degree feedback involves collecting feedback from multiple sources, including peers, subordinates, and superiors, to provide a comprehensive assessment of an individual's strengths and areas for improvement.

Culture Strategies

Culture Strategies focus on shaping and transforming the organizational culture to create a positive and productive work environment. Consultants assist organizations in assessing their current culture, identifying areas for improvement, and developing strategies to align the culture with the desired values, behaviors, and goals. This may involve initiatives such as defining core values, establishing cultural norms, enhancing communication and collaboration practices, promoting diversity and inclusion, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation.

Talent Management Strategies

Talent Management Strategies involve designing and implementing initiatives to attract, develop, engage, and retain top talent within an organization. Consultants work with organizations to develop comprehensive talent management strategies that encompass recruitment and selection processes, onboarding programs, performance management systems, career development frameworks, succession planning, and employee retention strategies. The goal is to ensure the organization has the right people in the right roles, with opportunities for growth and development that align with their skills and aspirations.

Career Planning/High Potentials

Career Planning/High Potentials initiatives involve designing strategies and programs to support employees in planning and advancing their careers within the organization. Consultants work with organizations to establish career development frameworks, provide guidance on career paths and progression opportunities, and assist in identifying and nurturing high-potential employees. They may offer career counseling, development planning, and training programs to enhance employees' skills, competencies, and knowledge needed for career growth. Career planning initiatives aim to engage and retain talented individuals by providing them with a clear path for advancement and professional development.

Change Management

Change management consulting services support organizations in managing and implementing significant organizational changes. Consultants help identify change management strategies and plans, assess the impact of change, and design effective communication and training programs to support employee adoption and buy-in. They work with leaders and teams to overcome resistance, address cultural and behavioral challenges, and foster a positive change culture. Change management consultants provide guidance throughout the change process, ensuring a smooth transition and successful adoption of new processes, systems, or structures.

Organization Change (OCM) Strategy

Organization Change Management (OCM) Strategy refers to the planned approach or roadmap that an organization follows to implement and manage changes within its structure, processes, technologies, or culture. OCM strategies involve identifying the need for change, setting goals, creating a plan, and executing and evaluating the change process. Organization Change Consulting involves developing and implementing effective strategies to manage and navigate organizational change. The consultant focuses on helping organizations transition smoothly from their current state to a desired future state, considering various factors such as technology advancements, market shifts, mergers and acquisitions, or internal restructuring. Consultants specializing in OCM work closely with organizational leaders to identify OCM processes and help implement a consistent approach to change management, and train internal consultants to lead change management projects and provide support throughout the change process. Consultants may develop assessments, develop communication and training programs, and provide guidance on change implementation to ensure successful organizational transitions. OCM design typically includes steps such as stakeholder analysis, communication and training plans, risk assessment, and monitoring progress to ensure a smooth transition and successful adoption of the changes.

Human Resources Strategies

Human resources (HR) consulting services assist organizations in optimizing their HR practices and processes. Consultants work with HR departments to enhance talent acquisition and retention strategies, develop compensation and benefits programs, design performance management systems, implement employee engagement initiatives, and ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations. They may also provide guidance on organizational restructuring, workforce planning, employee relations, and HR technology implementation. HR consultants help organizations align their HR practices with business objectives and create a positive and productive work environment.

Team Development Strategies

Team Development Strategies focus on improving the effectiveness and performance of teams within an organization. Consultants work with teams to enhance communication, collaboration, and decision-making processes. They facilitate team-building activities, provide training on effective teamwork and conflict resolution, and help establish clear roles and responsibilities. Team development strategies may also involve conducting assessments to identify team dynamics and strengths, and designing interventions to improve team cohesion, trust, and productivity.

Employee Engagement Strategies

Employee Engagement Strategies aim to create a work environment where employees feel motivated, committed, and connected to the organization. Consultants assist organizations in measuring employee engagement levels, identifying factors that influence engagement, and developing strategies to enhance it. These strategies may include initiatives such as fostering a positive work culture, improving communication and recognition practices, providing opportunities for growth and development, promoting work-life balance, and empowering employees to contribute their ideas and opinions. The goal is to create a work environment that fosters high employee morale, satisfaction, and productivity.

Leadership Development Strategies

Leadership Development Strategies focus on cultivating effective leaders within an organization. Consultants work with organizations to assess leadership capabilities, identify leadership gaps, and design leadership development programs that enhance leadership skills, competencies, and behaviors. These strategies may include executive education, coaching and mentoring programs, leadership training workshops, and succession planning initiatives. The aim is to build a strong leadership pipeline and foster a culture of leadership excellence throughout the organization.

Organization Design/Redesign

Organization Design or Redesign refers to the process of structuring an organization to align its structure, roles, processes, and systems with its strategic objectives. It involves reviewing and potentially revising elements such as reporting lines, departmental structure, job roles and responsibilities, decision-making processes, and overall organizational hierarchy to optimize efficiency, coordination, and effectiveness within the organization, ensuring that it is well-positioned to achieve its goals. Organization Systems Design or Redesign consulting focuses on designing or restructuring the systems and processes within an organization to optimize efficiency, effectiveness, and overall performance. This service involves analyzing existing organizational systems, such as workflows, communication channels, decision-making processes, and information management systems, to identify areas for improvement. Consultants work closely with organizational leaders to redesign these systems, incorporating best practices, automation, and streamlining processes to enhance productivity and achieve organizational goals. They may also provide recommendations on implementing new technologies or software to support the redesigned systems and ensure successful integration within the organization.

Organization Culture Change/Transformation

Organization Culture Change or Transformation involves deliberately altering the beliefs, values, behaviors, and norms that define the culture of an organization. Organization Culture Change consulting involves assisting organizations in transforming their existing culture or establishing a new desired culture within the organization. The organizational culture encompasses shared values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms that shape the way people work and interact within an organization. Culture change consultants help organizations identify their current culture, define the desired culture, and create strategies to bridge the gap between the two. They may conduct cultural assessments, facilitate workshops and training programs, develop communication strategies, and provide guidance to leaders and employees on how to align their behaviors and practices with the desired culture. This change is typically aimed at aligning the organizational culture with the company's vision, mission, and strategic objectives. Culture change initiatives often require a shift in leadership style, employee engagement, communication practices, and organizational practices to create a new cultural environment that supports desired outcomes such as increased collaboration, innovation, or adaptability.

Systems Design

Systems Design refers to the process of creating or modifying the systems and processes within an organization to optimize efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness. It involves analyzing the existing systems, identifying areas for improvement, and designing new systems or reconfiguring existing ones to meet organizational goals. Systems design may include aspects such as technology infrastructure, software applications, data management, workflow processes, and automation to enhance operational performance and streamline organizational activities.

Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning is the process of defining an organization's direction, setting goals, and formulating action plans to achieve those goals. It involves assessing the organization's current state, identifying opportunities and challenges, and developing strategies to effectively allocate resources and achieve the desired outcomes. Strategic planning typically includes analyzing the external environment, conducting internal assessments, setting objectives, formulating strategies, and establishing a framework for monitoring and adapting to changes in the business landscape. Strategy consulting services focus on assisting organizations in formulating and implementing strategic plans to achieve their long-term objectives. Strategy consultants also help organizations align their vision, mission, values, processes, and organizational structure with the strategic goals.

Succession Planning

Succession Planning is the process of identifying and developing internal talent to fill key leadership positions within an organization when they become vacant. Consultants work with organizations to create succession planning strategies that align with the organization's long-term goals. They assess the current talent pool, identify high-potential employees, and design development programs to groom them for future leadership roles. Succession planning may involve creating development plans, providing leadership training, and implementing strategies to ensure a smooth transition when key positions need to be filled.


Mastering the Six-Step Problem Solving Model – A Comprehensive Guide for Success


Problem solving skills are a crucial aspect of life. Whether it’s tackling complex issues in the workplace or finding solutions to everyday challenges, being able to effectively solve problems is essential. One popular approach to problem-solving is the Six-Step Problem Solving Model. This model provides a structured and systematic way of approaching problems, enabling individuals and teams to arrive at effective solutions. In this blog post, we will delve into each step of the Six-Step Problem Solving Model and explore techniques and strategies for successful problem solving.

Step 1: Identify and define the problem

Before diving into finding a solution, it is imperative to clearly identify and define the problem at hand. Without a clear understanding of the problem, it becomes difficult to develop effective solutions. One technique for identifying the problem is to ask the right questions. By asking probing questions, you can gain a deeper understanding of the issue and its impact on various aspects.

Gathering relevant information is a vital aspect of defining the problem. This can be done through research, data analysis, or relying on the expertise of individuals who have faced similar issues. The more information you gather, the better equipped you will be to define the problem accurately.

Step 2: Analyze the problem

Once the problem is defined, it is crucial to analyze it thoroughly. This involves exploring the root causes of the problem. By identifying the underlying factors contributing to the problem, you can develop strategies to address them effectively.

Analytical tools and techniques can aid in this step. One such tool is the cause-and-effect diagram, also known as the fishbone diagram. This diagram helps visualize the multiple causes that contribute to a problem, enabling a comprehensive analysis. Other tools, such as SWOT analysis or Pareto analysis, can be utilized depending on the nature of the problem.

Step 3: Generate potential solutions

Brainstorming and creative thinking play a crucial role in the third step of the Six-Step Problem Solving Model. This is the stage where you generate as many potential solutions as possible, without evaluating them yet. Encouraging a free flow of ideas without judgment can lead to innovative and out-of-the-box solutions.

After generating a list of potential solutions, it’s time to evaluate their feasibility and effectiveness. Consider factors such as the resources required, the time frame, and the impact on stakeholders. Prioritize the solutions based on these considerations and shortlist a few viable options.

Step 4: Select the best solution

Choosing the best solution from the shortlisted options requires a careful evaluation process. Consider various factors such as the potential positive outcomes, potential risks, and the resources required for implementation. One useful tool in this step is decision matrix analysis. This tool allows you to objectively compare and evaluate different solutions based on predetermined criteria.

Remember that the best solution might not be perfect, but it should have a higher probability of success and address the root causes identified in the analysis phase.

Step 5: Implement the chosen solution

Once you have selected the best solution, it’s time to develop an action plan for implementation. The action plan should outline the necessary steps, allocate resources, and set clear timelines for each task. It’s important to involve all relevant stakeholders in this phase to ensure their buy-in and cooperation.

During implementation, it’s common to encounter obstacles and risks. It is important to anticipate and proactively address these challenges. Regular communication and monitoring of progress can help identify potential risks and resolve issues in a timely manner.

Step 6: Evaluate the results and make adjustments

After implementing the chosen solution, it is crucial to evaluate its effectiveness. Assess whether the solution has successfully addressed the problem and achieved the desired outcomes. This evaluation can be done through various means such as surveys, feedback from stakeholders, or quantitative measurements.

If the solution did not produce the desired results, it’s important to make adjustments and improvements. This might involve revisiting the problem definition, analyzing the root causes more deeply, or even considering alternate solutions. Continuous improvement is key to success in problem-solving endeavors.

The Six-Step Problem Solving Model provides a systematic approach to addressing and resolving problems. By following these steps, individuals and teams can enhance their problem-solving skills and arrive at effective solutions. Remember to always start with a clear definition of the problem, analyze it thoroughly, generate potential solutions, select the best solution, implement it carefully, and evaluate the results before making adjustments. By applying this model, you can tackle complex problems with confidence and achieve success in your problem-solving endeavors.

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McKinsey Problem Solving: Six steps to solve any problem and tell a persuasive story

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The McKinsey problem solving process is a series of mindset shifts and structured approaches to thinking about and solving challenging problems. It is a useful approach for anyone working in the knowledge and information economy and needs to communicate ideas to other people.

Over the past several years of creating StrategyU, advising an undergraduates consulting group and running workshops for clients, I have found over and over again that the principles taught on this site and in this guide are a powerful way to improve the type of work and communication you do in a business setting.

When I first set out to teach these skills to the undergraduate consulting group at my alma mater, I was still working at BCG. I was spending my day building compelling presentations, yet was at a loss for how to teach these principles to the students I would talk with at night.

Through many rounds of iteration, I was able to land on a structured process and way of framing some of these principles such that people could immediately apply them to their work.

While the “official” McKinsey problem solving process is seven steps, I have outline my own spin on things – from experience at McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group. Here are six steps that will help you solve problems like a McKinsey Consultant:

Step #1: School is over, stop worrying about “what” to make and worry about the process, or the “how”

When I reflect back on my first role at McKinsey, I realize that my biggest challenge was unlearning everything I had learned over the previous 23 years. Throughout school you are asked to do specific things. For example, you are asked to write a 5 page paper on Benjamin Franklin — double spaced, 12 font and answering two or three specific questions.

In school, to be successful you follow these rules as close as you can. However, in consulting there are no rules on the “what.” Typically the problem you are asked to solve is ambiguous and complex — exactly why they hire you. In consulting, you are taught the rules around the “how” and have to then fill in the what.

The “how” can be taught and this entire site is founded on that belief. Here are some principles to get started:

Step #2: Thinking like a consultant requires a mindset shift

There are two pre-requisites to thinking like a consultant. Without these two traits you will struggle:

  • A healthy obsession looking for a “better way” to do things
  • Being open minded to shifting ideas and other approaches

In business school, I was sitting in one class when I noticed that all my classmates were doing the same thing — everyone was coming up with reasons why something should should not be done.

As I’ve spent more time working, I’ve realized this is a common phenomenon. The more you learn, the easier it becomes to come up with reasons to support the current state of affairs — likely driven by the status quo bias — an emotional state that favors not changing things. Even the best consultants will experience this emotion, but they are good at identifying it and pushing forward.

Key point : Creating an effective and persuasive consulting like presentation requires a comfort with uncertainty combined with a slightly delusional belief that you can figure anything out.

Step #3: Define the problem and make sure you are not solving a symptom

Before doing the work, time should be spent on defining the actual problem. Too often, people are solutions focused when they think about fixing something. Let’s say a company is struggling with profitability. Someone might define the problem as “we do not have enough growth.” This is jumping ahead to solutions — the goal may be to drive more growth, but this is not the actual issue. It is a symptom of a deeper problem.

Consider the following information:

  • Costs have remained relatively constant and are actually below industry average so revenue must be the issue
  • Revenue has been increasing, but at a slowing rate
  • This company sells widgets and have had no slowdown on the number of units it has sold over the last five years
  • However, the price per widget is actually below where it was five years ago
  • There have been new entrants in the market in the last three years that have been backed by Venture Capital money and are aggressively pricing their products below costs

In a real-life project there will definitely be much more information and a team may take a full week coming up with a problem statement . Given the information above, we may come up with the following problem statement:

Problem Statement : The company is struggling to increase profitability due to decreasing prices driven by new entrants in the market. The company does not have a clear strategy to respond to the price pressure from competitors and lacks an overall product strategy to compete in this market.

Step 4: Dive in, make hypotheses and try to figure out how to “solve” the problem

Now the fun starts!

There are generally two approaches to thinking about information in a structured way and going back and forth between the two modes is what the consulting process is founded on.

First is top-down . This is what you should start with, especially for a newer “consultant.” This involves taking the problem statement and structuring an approach. This means developing multiple hypotheses — key questions you can either prove or disprove.

Given our problem statement, you may develop the following three hypotheses:

  • Company X has room to improve its pricing strategy to increase profitability
  • Company X can explore new market opportunities unlocked by new entrants
  • Company X can explore new business models or operating models due to advances in technology

As you can see, these three statements identify different areas you can research and either prove or disprove. In a consulting team, you may have a “workstream leader” for each statement.

Once you establish the structure you you may shift to the second type of analysis: a bottom-up approach . This involves doing deep research around your problem statement, testing your hypotheses, running different analysis and continuing to ask more questions. As you do the analysis, you will begin to see different patterns that may unlock new questions, change your thinking or even confirm your existing hypotheses. You may need to tweak your hypotheses and structure as you learn new information.

A project vacillates many times between these two approaches. Here is a hypothetical timeline of a project:

Strategy consulting process

Step 5: Make a slides like a consultant

The next step is taking the structure and research and turning it into a slide. When people see slides from McKinsey and BCG, they see something that is compelling and unique, but don’t really understand all the work that goes into those slides. Both companies have a healthy obsession (maybe not to some people!) with how things look, how things are structured and how they are presented.

They also don’t understand how much work is spent on telling a compelling “story.” The biggest mistake people make in the business world is mistaking showing a lot of information versus telling a compelling story. This is an easy mistake to make — especially if you are the one that did hours of analysis. It may seem important, but when it comes down to making a slide and a presentation, you end up deleting more information rather than adding. You really need to remember the following:

Data matters, but stories change hearts and minds

Here are four quick ways to improve your presentations:

Tip #1 — Format, format, format

Both McKinsey and BCG had style templates that were obsessively followed. Some key rules I like to follow:

  • Make sure all text within your slide body is the same font size (harder than you would think)
  • Do not go outside of the margins into the white space on the side
  • All titles throughout the presentation should be 2 lines or less and stay the same font size
  • Each slide should typically only make one strong point

Tip #2 — Titles are the takeaway

The title of the slide should be the key insight or takeaway and the slide area should prove the point. The below slide is an oversimplification of this:

Example of a single slide

Even in consulting, I found that people struggled with simplifying a message to one key theme per slide. If something is going to be presented live, the simpler the better. In reality, you are often giving someone presentations that they will read in depth and more information may make sense.

To go deeper, check out these 20 presentation and powerpoint tips .

Tip #3 — Have “MECE” Ideas for max persuasion

“MECE” means mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive — meaning all points listed cover the entire range of ideas while also being unique and differentiated from each other.

An extreme example would be this:

  • Slide title: There are seven continents
  • Slide content: The seven continents are North America, South America, Europe, Africa Asia, Antarctica, Australia

The list of continents provides seven distinct points that when taken together are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive . The MECE principle is not perfect — it is more of an ideal to push your logic in the right direction. Use it to continually improve and refine your story.

Applying this to a profitability problem at the highest level would look like this:

Goal: Increase profitability

2nd level: We can increase revenue or decrease costs

3rd level: We can increase revenue by selling more or increasing prices

Each level is MECE. It is almost impossible to argue against any of this (unless you are willing to commit accounting fraud!).

Tip #4 — Leveraging the Pyramid Principle

The pyramid principle is an approach popularized by Barbara Minto and essential to the structured problem solving approach I learned at McKinsey. Learning this approach has changed the way I look at any presentation since.

Here is a rough outline of how you can think about the pyramid principle as a way to structure a presentation:

pyramid principle structure

As you build a presentation, you may have three sections for each hypothesis. As you think about the overall story, the three hypothesis (and the supporting evidence) will build on each other as a “story” to answer the defined problem. There are two ways to think about doing this — using inductive or deductive reasoning:

deductive versus inductive reasoning in powerpoint arguments

If we go back to our profitability example from above, you would say that increasing profitability was the core issue we developed. Lets assume that through research we found that our three hypotheses were true. Given this, you may start to build a high level presentation around the following three points:

example of hypotheses confirmed as part of consulting problem solving

These three ideas not only are distinct but they also build on each other. Combined, they tell a story of what the company should do and how they should react. Each of these three “points” may be a separate section in the presentation followed by several pages of detailed analysis. There may also be a shorter executive summary version of 5–10 pages that gives the high level story without as much data and analysis.

Step 6: The only way to improve is to get feedback and continue to practice

Ultimately, this process is not something you will master overnight. I’ve been consulting, either working for a firm or on my own for more than 10 years and am still looking for ways to make better presentations, become more persuasive and get feedback on individual slides.

The process never ends.

The best way to improve fast is to be working on a great team . Look for people around you that do this well and ask them for feedback. The more feedback, the more iterations and more presentations you make, the better you will become. Good luck!

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll get a kick out of all the free lessons I’ve shared that go a bit deeper. Check them out here .

Do you have a toolkit for business problem solving? I created Think Like a Strategy Consultant as an online course to make the tools of strategy consultants accessible to driven professionals, executives, and consultants. This course teaches you how to synthesize information into compelling insights, structure your information in ways that help you solve problems, and develop presentations that resonate at the C-Level. Click here to learn more or if you are interested in getting started now, enroll in the self-paced version ($497) or hands-on coaching version ($997). Both versions include lifetime access and all future updates.

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

By 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.


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)


Guide: Problem Solving

Author's Avatar

Author: Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

Problem-solving stands as a fundamental skill, crucial in navigating the complexities of both everyday life and professional environments. Far from merely providing quick fixes, it entails a comprehensive process involving the identification, analysis, and resolution of issues.

This multifaceted approach requires an understanding of the problem’s nature, the exploration of its various components, and the development of effective solutions. At its core, problem-solving serves as a bridge from the current situation to a desired outcome, requiring not only the recognition of an existing gap but also the precise definition and thorough analysis of the problem to find viable solutions.

What is Problem Solving?

Problem Solving

At its core, problem-solving is about bridging the gap between the current situation and the desired outcome. It starts with recognizing that a discrepancy exists, which requires intervention to correct or improve. The ability to identify a problem is the first step, but it’s equally crucial to define it accurately. A well-defined problem is half-solved, as the saying goes.

Analyzing the problem is the next critical step. This analysis involves breaking down the problem into smaller parts to understand its intricacies. It requires looking at the problem from various angles and considering all relevant factors – be they environmental, social, technical, or economic. This comprehensive analysis aids in developing a deeper understanding of the problem’s root causes, rather than just its symptoms.

Reverse brainstorming - problem solving - Idea generation

Finally, effective problem-solving involves the implementation of the chosen solution and its subsequent evaluation. This stage tests the practicality of the solution and its effectiveness in the real world. It’s a critical phase where theoretical solutions meet practical application.

The Nature of Problems

The nature of the problem significantly influences the approach to solving it. Problems vary greatly in their complexity and structure, and understanding this is crucial for effective problem-solving.

Simple vs. Complex Problems : Simple problems are straightforward, often with clear solutions. They usually have a limited number of variables and predictable outcomes. On the other hand, complex problems are multi-faceted. They involve multiple variables, stakeholders, and potential outcomes, often requiring a more sophisticated analysis and a multi-pronged approach to solving.

Structured vs. Unstructured Problems : Structured problems are well-defined. They follow a specific pattern or set of rules, making their outcomes more predictable. These problems often have established methodologies for solving. For example, mathematical problems usually fall into this category. Unstructured problems, in contrast, are more ambiguous. They lack a clear pattern or set of rules, making their outcomes uncertain. These problems require a more exploratory approach, often involving trial and error, to identify potential solutions.

Understanding the type of problem at hand is essential, as it dictates the approach. For instance, a simple problem might require a straightforward solution, while a complex problem might need a more comprehensive, step-by-step approach. Similarly, structured problems might benefit from established methodologies, whereas unstructured problems might need more innovative and creative problem-solving techniques.

The Problem-Solving Process

The process of problem-solving is a methodical approach that involves several distinct stages. Each stage plays a crucial role in navigating from the initial recognition of a problem to its final resolution. Let’s explore each of these stages in detail.

Step 1: Identifying the Problem

Problem Identification

Step 2: Defining the Problem

Once the problem is identified, the next step is to define it clearly and precisely. This is a critical phase because a well-defined problem often suggests its solution. Defining the problem involves breaking it down into smaller, more manageable parts. It also includes understanding the scope and impact of the problem. A clear definition helps in focusing efforts and resources efficiently and serves as a guide to stay on track during the problem-solving process.

Step 3: Analyzing the Problem

Analyze Data

Step 4: Generating Solutions


Step 5: Evaluating and Selecting Solutions

After generating a list of possible solutions, the next step is to evaluate each one critically. This evaluation includes considering the feasibility, costs, benefits, and potential impact of each solution. Techniques like cost-benefit analysis, risk assessment, and scenario planning can be useful here. The aim is to select the solution that best addresses the problem in the most efficient and effective way, considering the available resources and constraints.

Step 6: Implementing the Solution


Step 7: Reviewing and Reflecting

The final stage in the problem-solving process is to review the implemented solution and reflect on its effectiveness and the process as a whole. This involves assessing whether the solution met its intended goals and what could have been done differently. Reflection is a critical part of learning and improvement. It helps in understanding what worked well and what didn’t, providing valuable insights for future problem-solving efforts.

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

Tools and Techniques for Effective Problem Solving

Problem-solving is a multifaceted endeavor that requires a variety of tools and techniques to navigate effectively. Different stages of the problem-solving process can benefit from specific strategies, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the solutions developed. Here’s a detailed look at some key tools and techniques:



SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)


Root Cause Analysis

This is a method used to identify the underlying causes of a problem, rather than just addressing its symptoms. One popular technique within root cause analysis is the “ 5 Whys ” method. This involves asking “why” multiple times (traditionally five) until the fundamental cause of the problem is uncovered. This technique encourages deeper thinking and can reveal connections that aren’t immediately obvious. By addressing the root cause, solutions are more likely to be effective and long-lasting.

what is step 6 of the problem solving model

Mind Mapping

Sub-Branches Mind map

Each of these tools and techniques can be adapted to different types of problems and situations. Effective problem solvers often use a combination of these methods, depending on the nature of the problem and the context in which it exists. By leveraging these tools, one can enhance their ability to dissect complex problems, generate creative solutions, and implement effective strategies to address challenges.

Developing Problem-Solving Skills

Developing problem-solving skills is a dynamic process that hinges on both practice and introspection. Engaging with a diverse array of problems enhances one’s ability to adapt and apply different strategies. This exposure is crucial as it allows individuals to encounter various scenarios, ranging from straightforward to complex, each requiring a unique approach. Collaborating with others in teams is especially beneficial. It broadens one’s perspective, offering insights into different ways of thinking and approaching problems. Such collaboration fosters a deeper understanding of how diverse viewpoints can contribute to more robust solutions.

Reflection is equally important in the development of problem-solving skills. Reflecting on both successes and failures provides valuable lessons. Successes reinforce effective strategies and boost confidence, while failures are rich learning opportunities that highlight areas for improvement. This reflective practice enables one to understand what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Critical thinking is a foundational skill in problem-solving. It involves analyzing information, evaluating different perspectives, and making reasoned judgments. Creativity is another vital component. It pushes the boundaries of conventional thinking and leads to innovative solutions. Effective communication also plays a crucial role, as it ensures that ideas are clearly understood and collaboratively refined.

In conclusion, problem-solving is an indispensable skill set that blends analytical thinking, creativity, and practical implementation. It’s a journey from understanding the problem to applying a solution and learning from the outcome.

Whether dealing with simple or complex issues, or structured or unstructured challenges, the essence of problem-solving lies in a methodical approach and the effective use of various tools and techniques. It’s a skill that is honed over time, through experience, reflection, and the continuous development of critical thinking, creativity, and communication abilities. In mastering problem-solving, one not only addresses immediate issues but also builds a foundation for future challenges, leading to more innovative and effective outcomes.

  • Mourtos, N.J., Okamoto, N.D. and Rhee, J., 2004, February. Defining, teaching, and assessing problem solving skills . In  7th UICEE Annual Conference on Engineering Education  (pp. 1-5).
  • Foshay, R. and Kirkley, J., 2003. Principles for teaching problem solving.   Technical paper ,  4 (1), pp.1-16.

Q: What are the key steps in the problem-solving process?

A : The problem-solving process involves several key steps: identifying the problem, defining it clearly, analyzing it to understand its root causes, generating a range of potential solutions, evaluating and selecting the most viable solution, implementing the chosen solution, and finally, reviewing and reflecting on the effectiveness of the solution and the process used to arrive at it.

Q: How can brainstorming be effectively used in problem-solving?

A: Brainstorming is effective in the solution generation phase of problem-solving. It involves gathering a group and encouraging the free flow of ideas without immediate criticism. The goal is to produce a large quantity of ideas, fostering creative thinking. This technique helps in uncovering unique and innovative solutions that might not surface in a more structured setting.

Q: What is SWOT Analysis and how does it aid in problem-solving?

A : SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a situation. In problem-solving, it aids by providing a clear understanding of the internal and external factors that could impact the problem and potential solutions. This analysis helps in formulating strategies that leverage strengths and opportunities while mitigating weaknesses and threats.

Q: Why is it important to understand the nature of a problem before solving it?

A : Understanding the nature of a problem is crucial as it dictates the approach for solving it. Problems can be simple or complex, structured or unstructured, and each type requires a different strategy. A clear understanding of the problem’s nature helps in applying the appropriate methods and tools for effective resolution.

Q: How does reflection contribute to developing problem-solving skills?

A : Reflection is a critical component in developing problem-solving skills. It involves looking back at the problem-solving process and the implemented solution to assess what worked well and what didn’t. Reflecting on both successes and failures provides valuable insights and lessons, helping to refine and improve problem-solving strategies for future challenges. This reflective practice enhances one’s ability to approach problems more effectively over time.

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Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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what is step 6 of the problem solving model

  • Identify the Problem
  • Define the Problem
  • Form a Strategy
  • Organize Information
  • Allocate Resources
  • Monitor Progress
  • Evaluate the Results

Frequently Asked Questions

Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.

The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off learning everything they can about the issue and then using factual knowledge to come up with a solution. In other instances, creativity and insight are the best options.

It is not necessary to follow problem-solving steps sequentially, It is common to skip steps or even go back through steps multiple times until the desired solution is reached.

In order to correctly solve a problem, it is often important to follow a series of steps. Researchers sometimes refer to this as the problem-solving cycle. While this cycle is portrayed sequentially, people rarely follow a rigid series of steps to find a solution.

The following steps include developing strategies and organizing knowledge.

1. Identifying the Problem

While it may seem like an obvious step, identifying the problem is not always as simple as it sounds. In some cases, people might mistakenly identify the wrong source of a problem, which will make attempts to solve it inefficient or even useless.

Some strategies that you might use to figure out the source of a problem include :

  • Asking questions about the problem
  • Breaking the problem down into smaller pieces
  • Looking at the problem from different perspectives
  • Conducting research to figure out what relationships exist between different variables

2. Defining the Problem

After the problem has been identified, it is important to fully define the problem so that it can be solved. You can define a problem by operationally defining each aspect of the problem and setting goals for what aspects of the problem you will address

At this point, you should focus on figuring out which aspects of the problems are facts and which are opinions. State the problem clearly and identify the scope of the solution.

3. Forming a Strategy

After the problem has been identified, it is time to start brainstorming potential solutions. This step usually involves generating as many ideas as possible without judging their quality. Once several possibilities have been generated, they can be evaluated and narrowed down.

The next step is to develop a strategy to solve the problem. The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the individual's unique preferences. Common problem-solving strategies include heuristics and algorithms.

  • Heuristics are mental shortcuts that are often based on solutions that have worked in the past. They can work well if the problem is similar to something you have encountered before and are often the best choice if you need a fast solution.
  • Algorithms are step-by-step strategies that are guaranteed to produce a correct result. While this approach is great for accuracy, it can also consume time and resources.

Heuristics are often best used when time is of the essence, while algorithms are a better choice when a decision needs to be as accurate as possible.

4. Organizing Information

Before coming up with a solution, you need to first organize the available information. What do you know about the problem? What do you not know? The more information that is available the better prepared you will be to come up with an accurate solution.

When approaching a problem, it is important to make sure that you have all the data you need. Making a decision without adequate information can lead to biased or inaccurate results.

5. Allocating Resources

Of course, we don't always have unlimited money, time, and other resources to solve a problem. Before you begin to solve a problem, you need to determine how high priority it is.

If it is an important problem, it is probably worth allocating more resources to solving it. If, however, it is a fairly unimportant problem, then you do not want to spend too much of your available resources on coming up with a solution.

At this stage, it is important to consider all of the factors that might affect the problem at hand. This includes looking at the available resources, deadlines that need to be met, and any possible risks involved in each solution. After careful evaluation, a decision can be made about which solution to pursue.

6. Monitoring Progress

After selecting a problem-solving strategy, it is time to put the plan into action and see if it works. This step might involve trying out different solutions to see which one is the most effective.

It is also important to monitor the situation after implementing a solution to ensure that the problem has been solved and that no new problems have arisen as a result of the proposed solution.

Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress as they work towards a solution. If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies .

7. Evaluating the Results

After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the results to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem. This evaluation might be immediate, such as checking the results of a math problem to ensure the answer is correct, or it can be delayed, such as evaluating the success of a therapy program after several months of treatment.

Once a problem has been solved, it is important to take some time to reflect on the process that was used and evaluate the results. This will help you to improve your problem-solving skills and become more efficient at solving future problems.

A Word From Verywell​

It is important to remember that there are many different problem-solving processes with different steps, and this is just one example. Problem-solving in real-world situations requires a great deal of resourcefulness, flexibility, resilience, and continuous interaction with the environment.

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how you can stop dwelling in a negative mindset.

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You can become a better problem solving by:

  • Practicing brainstorming and coming up with multiple potential solutions to problems
  • Being open-minded and considering all possible options before making a decision
  • Breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Researching different problem-solving techniques and trying out new ones
  • Learning from mistakes and using them as opportunities to grow

It's important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about what's going on. Try to see things from their perspective as well as your own. Work together to find a resolution that works for both of you. Be willing to compromise and accept that there may not be a perfect solution.

Take breaks if things are getting too heated, and come back to the problem when you feel calm and collected. Don't try to fix every problem on your own—consider asking a therapist or counselor for help and insight.

If you've tried everything and there doesn't seem to be a way to fix the problem, you may have to learn to accept it. This can be difficult, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your life and remember that every situation is temporary. Don't dwell on what's going wrong—instead, think about what's going right. Find support by talking to friends or family. Seek professional help if you're having trouble coping.

Davidson JE, Sternberg RJ, editors.  The Psychology of Problem Solving .  Cambridge University Press; 2003. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511615771

Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. Published 2018 Jun 26. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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This study aimed to determine the impact of the integration of engineering design process (asking, imagining, planning, creating and improving) in an electrical & magnetism module to improve problem-solving skills in physics among secondary school students in Aceh, Indonesia. The quasi-experimental study was carried out with 82 form three (age 15 years old) students of a secondary school in Aceh Besar, Indonesia. The first author had randomly chosen two classes as the experimental group and two other classes as the control group. Independent samples t-test analysis was conducted to determine the difference between the physics teaching and learning module which integrated the five steps of engineering design process and the existing commonly used science " Pudak " teaching and learning module. The results of the independent samples t-test analysis showed that the use of the physics teaching and learning module which integrated the five steps of engineering design process was more effective compared to the use of the existing " Pudak " module in increasing the students' skills in solving physics problems. The findings of the study suggest that the science learning approach is appropriate to be applied in the teaching and learning of science to enhance science problem-solving skills among secondary school students. In addition, it can be used as a guide for teachers on how to implement the integration of the five steps of engineering design process in science teaching and learning practices.

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Despite the availability of a wide range of problem solving methods, individuals continue to struggle with problems. Scientists attempt to address recurring economic, social, political, and organizational problems through the expansion of knowledge and theory. ... Cause-effect relationships advance logical explanations, predict future events,and forecast consequences. Theories and thinking based on cause-effect findings become recognized science (Goldratt, 1990) and move the field of inquiry from "art" to that of disciplined examination. In problem solving, the root cause of the problem produces an undesirable effect. Any pursuit that does not seek the root cause leads only to the symptom of the problem and, by definition, solving a symptom will not solve a problem. Problem solvers identify root causes of problems to be able to predict future cause and effect relationships. The purposeful application of an analysis method can address complex problems using a structured app...

Lecture Notes in Computer Science

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Solving problems is a necessary life skill and design is a problem solving process. This study investigated whether learning to design affected college students’ awareness and perception of their problem solving ability, and whether that ability correlated to academic success. Pretest-posttest scores of The Problem Solving Inventory were compared from a design fundamentals class. Results showed significant improvement in self-appraisal of problem solving ability subsequent to learning design. Student awareness of problem solving skills development was identified through student opinions involving solving problems for design and real life. Students indicated broader thinking, simplified solution development, and improved confidence. The study clearly shows correlations between learning to design and problem solving skills, and between problem solving skills and real-life problem solving.

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Journal of Human Sciences

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Effective Problem-Solving Techniques in Business

Problem solving is an increasingly important soft skill for those in business. The Future of Jobs Survey by the World Economic Forum drives this point home. According to this report, complex problem solving is identified as one of the top 15 skills that will be sought by employers in 2025, along with other soft skills such as analytical thinking, creativity and leadership.

Dr. Amy David , clinical associate professor of management for supply chain and operations management, spoke about business problem-solving methods and how the Purdue University Online MBA program prepares students to be business decision-makers.

Why Are Problem-Solving Skills Essential in Leadership Roles?

Every business will face challenges at some point. Those that are successful will have people in place who can identify and solve problems before the damage is done.

“The business world is constantly changing, and companies need to be able to adapt well in order to produce good results and meet the needs of their customers,” David says. “They also need to keep in mind the triple bottom line of ‘people, profit and planet.’ And these priorities are constantly evolving.”

To that end, David says people in management or leadership need to be able to handle new situations, something that may be outside the scope of their everyday work.

“The name of the game these days is change—and the speed of change—and that means solving new problems on a daily basis,” she says.

The pace of information and technology has also empowered the customer in a new way that provides challenges—or opportunities—for businesses to respond.

“Our customers have a lot more information and a lot more power,” she says. “If you think about somebody having an unhappy experience and tweeting about it, that’s very different from maybe 15 years ago. Back then, if you had a bad experience with a product, you might grumble about it to one or two people.”

David says that this reality changes how quickly organizations need to react and respond to their customers. And taking prompt and decisive action requires solid problem-solving skills.

What Are Some of the Most Effective Problem-Solving Methods?

David says there are a few things to consider when encountering a challenge in business.

“When faced with a problem, are we talking about something that is broad and affects a lot of people? Or is it something that affects a select few? Depending on the issue and situation, you’ll need to use different types of problem-solving strategies,” she says.

Using Techniques

There are a number of techniques that businesses use to problem solve. These can include:

  • Five Whys : This approach is helpful when the problem at hand is clear but the underlying causes are less so. By asking “Why?” five times, the final answer should get at the potential root of the problem and perhaps yield a solution.
  • Gap Analysis : Companies use gap analyses to compare current performance with expected or desired performance, which will help a company determine how to use its resources differently or adjust expectations.
  • Gemba Walk : The name, which is derived from a Japanese word meaning “the real place,” refers to a commonly used technique that allows managers to see what works (and what doesn’t) from the ground up. This is an opportunity for managers to focus on the fundamental elements of the process, identify where the value stream is and determine areas that could use improvement.
  • Porter’s Five Forces : Developed by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, applying the Five Forces is a way for companies to identify competitors for their business or services, and determine how the organization can adjust to stay ahead of the game.
  • Six Thinking Hats : In his book of the same name, Dr. Edward de Bono details this method that encourages parallel thinking and attempting to solve a problem by trying on different “thinking hats.” Each color hat signifies a different approach that can be utilized in the problem-solving process, ranging from logic to feelings to creativity and beyond. This method allows organizations to view problems from different angles and perspectives.
  • SWOT Analysis : This common strategic planning and management tool helps businesses identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).

“We have a lot of these different tools,” David says. “Which one to use when is going to be dependent on the problem itself, the level of the stakeholders, the number of different stakeholder groups and so on.”

Each of the techniques outlined above uses the same core steps of problem solving:

  • Identify and define the problem
  • Consider possible solutions
  • Evaluate options
  • Choose the best solution
  • Implement the solution
  • Evaluate the outcome

Data drives a lot of daily decisions in business and beyond. Analytics have also been deployed to problem solve.

“We have specific classes around storytelling with data and how you convince your audience to understand what the data is,” David says. “Your audience has to trust the data, and only then can you use it for real decision-making.”

Data can be a powerful tool for identifying larger trends and making informed decisions when it’s clearly understood and communicated. It’s also vital for performance monitoring and optimization.

How Is Problem Solving Prioritized in Purdue’s Online MBA?

The courses in the Purdue Online MBA program teach problem-solving methods to students, keeping them up to date with the latest techniques and allowing them to apply their knowledge to business-related scenarios.

“I can give you a model or a tool, but most of the time, a real-world situation is going to be a lot messier and more valuable than what we’ve seen in a textbook,” David says. “Asking students to take what they know and apply it to a case where there’s not one single correct answer is a big part of the learning experience.”

Make Your Own Decision to Further Your Career

An online MBA from Purdue University can help advance your career by teaching you problem-solving skills, decision-making strategies and more. Reach out today to learn more about earning an online MBA with Purdue University .

If you would like to receive more information about pursuing a business master’s at the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, please fill out the form and a program specialist will be in touch!

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Using FOCUS-PDSA Quality Improvement Methodology Model in Healthcare: Process and Outcomes

Yacoub abuzied.

1 Nursing Department, Rehabilitation Hospital, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Sami Ayed Alshammary

2 Palliative Care Department, Comprehensive Cancer Center, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Trad Alhalahlah

3 Anesthesia Department, Jordanian Royal Medical Services, Amman, Jordan

Shreemathie Somduth

Learning objectives.

  • Understand the concept of FOCUS-PDSA
  • Know how FOCUS-PDSA is used for quality improvement and enhancement processes
  • Learn the difference between FOCUS-PDSA and other frameworks or tools


Quality is a prominent subject in healthcare, with the ultimate objective of maintaining a high level of patient satisfaction while increasing financial elements and patient safety. [ 1 ] The goals are always changing and may be influenced by a variety of external variables. When a healthcare institution encounters a barrier in meeting these objectives, it is critical to understand the root reasons and take the appropriate actions as soon as possible to accomplish the patient safety and cost-effectiveness objectives. [ 1 , 2 ] One quality improvement concept in healthcare is to do it right the first time, thus it is crucial to respond fast by focusing on the most critical elements that contributed to the problem at hand. [ 3 ] Instituting changes in healthcare organizations is difficult owing to the range of labor and duties. The organizations have been classified as a complex adaptive system, which is one of the most difficult systems to understand and manage because a single problem might be connected to several contributing parts at the same time. [ 4 ] As the need for high-quality patient care grows, many healthcare settings have started to monitor their performance to ensure that they are delivering treatment that is safe, effective, timely, patient centered, equitable, and efficient. [ 5 ]

FOCUS (F = Find a problem, O = Organize a team, C = Clarify the problem, U = Understand a problem, S = Select an intervention) and PDSA (P = Plan, D = Do, S = Study, A = Act) (FOCUS-PDSA) is a popular strategy that was established in the healthcare field to improve processes and quality. [ 6 ] It is a systematic process improvement strategy developed by the Hospital Corporation of America. [ 7 ] The methodology is simple to understand an apply to the management of any process ( Fig. 1 ).

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FOCUS-PDSA processes.

FOCUS and PDSA methodologies can be used to change how a service is delivered based on data collected in each stage or cycle. [ 8 , 9 ] This approach may also be used to assess the effectiveness of a change. [ 9 ] FOCUS is the sequence for identifying areas for improvement, whereas PDSA consists of cycles of improvement processes. [ 10 ] Each PDSA cycle tests a change through planning, implementation, studying outcomes, and acting on what is discovered. The FOCUS-PDSA model requires the formation of an interdisciplinary team and simple data collection and reporting tools. [ 11 ]


The first step in the FOCUS-PDSA methodology is to identify and characterize a specific process that needs to be improved or problem that needs to be solved. This process entails systematic, iterative testing of individual changes. FOCUS-PDSA is used for establishing high-quality standards and pursuing continual improvement and quality assurance. [ 12 ] This model for process improvement is essential for continuous improvement and typically gives strategies for quality improvement in healthcare. FOCUS-PDSA, also known as the trial-and-error cycle, encourages tiny modifications as well as quick adaptations and improvements. [ 13 ]

Another approach is the Kaizen method for continuous improvement, but this method is limited to specific quality measures over a short period of up to 6 months, [ 14 ] whereas FOCUS-PDSA is not limited to a specific period and is simple to implement. [ 15 ] FOCUS-PDSA makes changes step by step, little by little, thus facilitating continuous improvement of targeted activities or processes.


The FOCUS-PDSA cycle provides a framework for discovering and objectively evaluating improvement possibilities by organizing processes and analyzing them based on each condition ( Fig. 2 ). The FOCUS-PDSA model is used for various projects including the development of guidelines and protocols. [ 16 ] The following are two examples of articles in the literature that used FOCUS-PDSA or PDSA as quality improvement methodology.

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Example of how to clarify the process. Reprinted from [ 17 ] with permission from Innovations Journals. LOS: length of stay.

The first example used FOCUS-PDSA to reduce the average length of stay (LOS) in an inpatient setting. The aim was to identify and manage reasons for delays in discharging patients from a medical specialties department at a tertiary care center in Saudi Arabia. There were specific measurable targets per year. As a result, despite gradual increases in admissions from 2016 to 2018, the mean LOS decreased significantly between 2016 and 2018, from 9.16 to 7.47 days. Readmission and mortality rates decreased after the intervention was implemented in 2017, suggesting an improvement in the process of admission and discharge. [ 17 ]

The second example used PDSA cycles to enhance palliative care occupancy and efficiency in a setting that uses a healthcare pathway for service integration and policy development. This article described the experience in implementing a quality improvement project to overcome the problem of bed overcapacity at a comprehensive cancer center in a tertiary care center. The aim was to reduce the average LOS of palliative care patients as well as to increase cost-effectiveness. The PDSA cycle engaged all stakeholders from all service tiers, tested interventions in simplified pilots, and developed a detailed plan and business case for further implementation and rollout, which was then used to refine a process for implementing changes. As a result, a significant reduction in bed capacity was observed: from 35% in 2017 to 13.8% in 2018. The original LOS was 28 days, whereas the average LOS was 19 days in 2017 (including the time before and after the intervention), 10.8 days in 2018 (after the intervention was implemented), 10.1 days in 2019, and 16 days in 2020. [ 18 ]

FOCUS-PDSA methodology is a helpful tool that can be used in various stages of quality improvement initiatives and serves several roles. Applying FOCUS-PDSA to projects in healthcare will save time, money, and effort. The availability of a wide range of quality tools, as well as improved participation of healthcare professionals and staff, will help to improve patient safety, cost-effectiveness, and develop a setting rich in quality elements and methodologies.

Funding Statement

Source of Support: None

Conflict of Interest: None.

How to solve the problem that GPT-API cannot read text using OCR?


  • When the prompt required using OCR to read image information, if the OCR reading failed, GPT would fabricate content.
  • When the prompt required GPT to read a file, even upload the file was successfully transmitted, GPT did not read it. In such cases, GPT also fabricated content.

Currently, I have successfully configured GPT to exit the program when OCR or file reading fails. However, my actual goal is to have GPT use OCR and read files correctly.

  • If I add a retry mechanism in Python for failed attempts, will this solution only work after GPT returns an error?
  • Can I prompt GPT to keep retrying until it succeeds? I am concerned that doing so might cause GPT to start fabricating content again.

Please help me resolve this issue. Thanks very much.

Who wrote “OCR is not available”, the AI or code somehow?

You’ll need to reinforce this ability with the AI (on all vision models) in your system prompt, I have found, or you can get denials. Example:

system : “You are MathVision, an expert AI model with computer vision skill, able to use optical character recognition (OCR) to extract and reproduce text, to describe mathematical diagrams accurately through close inspection of features in images, and to use your AI vision to treat images as input context that you use to provide analysis and answers. Pay careful attention to the most recent images the user has provided.”

Before the most recent input, you can also give the AI example user/assistant turns of providing an image and then getting the exact response that you want for that type of input.

This paper demonstrates establishing skills in analysis via in-context few-shot learning:

thanks for reply, I will read file ,and

that my promet:

You are GPT itself. Even when faced with human answers that are inconsistent with yours, you should maintain independent judgment and ensure correct answers based on logic and data.

2. use ocr to extract the handwritten answers. do not simulate reading. if ocr extraction fails, clearly output “ocr not available” and proceed to the next step., 3. if ocr is not available, use gpt-vision to extract the handwritten answers. do not simulate reading. if gpt-vision is also unavailable, clearly output “recognition not possible” and proceed to the next step., 4. if neither ocr nor gpt-vision can extract the answers, output “recognition not possible” and exit the program., 5. if extraction is successful, proceed to step 6., 6. extract ‘2-2.txt’ as the standard answer. do not simulate reading. if the file cannot be read or the content cannot be recognized, clearly output “unable to read ‘2-2.txt’” and exit the program., 7. follow the steps sequentially; do not skip any steps., 8. if any part of the content cannot be extracted, this is not a problem at all. simply output “recognition not possible”; this is more helpful to me. do not fabricate any content. fabricating content is very harmful to me., 9. the handwritten answers and the standard answers might have no relation to each other. in this case, output “answer incorrect.”, please follow the above steps and ensure to output “recognition not possible” if the handwritten answers cannot be correctly extracted..

I am confused about the term “OCR” and the file named “2-2.txt” with the txt extension.

Could you please check if an image file was mistakenly saved as a txt file?

OCR technology is the abbreviation of Optical Character Recognition (Optical Character Recognition). There are 2 files, one is an image file ,need GPT use OCR to read it ,the other is a txt file ,also need GPT to read it . Then compare whether the content extracted by OCR is consistent with the TXT content.This is my purpose

To be precise, the vision function of GPT-4 is not OCR, but VQA (Visual Question Answering). So, strictly speaking, OCR is not the service provided by OpenAI.

However, as VQA performance improves, some people may confuse VQA with OCR because VQA increasingly covers the functionality of OCR.

You will need to provide us with a minimal set of image and text files that can reproduce the problem, as well as the source code that caused the problem, in order for us to help you solve the problem.

Thank you very much for your reply. I’ll sort out my problem and existing solutions. Please tell me how to send this information to you. Even if you can’t resolve these issues right now, your help is greatly appreciated.

The system instruction is a mess of talking about imaginary things like switching to GPT-Vision, or “even when faced with”. Even my GPT-4, with examples of good system prompts and guidelines, couldn’t unravel the chaos.

How to instruct the AI The AI session starts with operational parameters and behaviors given to the AI in a “system message”, which must be written in the form “you are” or “you do” (or similar first-person direct instructions). This system message is what you program by writing natural language. The AI must be given an identity, a specialization, a job to perform, full understanding of the reason it is performing the task, and the output format which it shall produce (just as this text is an instruction). This should be well-organized and structured.

This forum cannot do all your homework with free consulting.

To understand and help you with your problem, you have to attach the following:

  • The code that makes the API call
  • The image file that the code calls
  • The text file as the “standard answer”

Have a nice day!

thanks for the reply. I’m trying to break up the project and distribute the implementation. I’m a beginner. My previous job has nothing to do with this. Even if I wanted to pay for a consultation I couldn’t find the right person.

Thank you so much. I need to spend some time sorting it out. As the member above said, this is not something that can be resolved with a free consultation. If there is a feasible solution, I am willing to pay for the consultation. Knowledge should not be free.

First step: don’t ask questions you don’t want the wrong answer to:

screenshot of a chat where AI says it can't perform OCR. The user is pointing out that OCR (Optical Character Recognition) has been enabled and then that makes the AI work like magic.

It works better if you tell the AI what it can do instead of asking if it can’t.

Thank you for help. I need to rethink my objectives and processes. Thanks.

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