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There are many different methods that have been developed for tackling problems people encounter in the workplace. Some procedures work better than others depending on the type of problem. But having the right problem-solving strategy is essential to finding a solution. It can mean the difference between overcoming the obstacle and moving ahead or getting bogged down in a situation that just won’t go away.

One effective problem-solving strategy is known by the acronym IDEAL. The I stands for identifying the source of the problem, D for defining its circumstances, E for exploring different ways of solving it, A for acting on a proposed solution, and L for looking back and evaluating the whole process.

Identifying the problem

The cause of a problem may appear obvious, but it may not always be what you think. To determine the cause, team members should write down all of the possible causes that they can think of. Then the team should go through them one at a time, asking in particular what caused each specific cause.

This method of regression will help you to determine the root cause.

Defining a problem

You want to gather all of the relevant information you need to help you solve the problem. For example, you should be asking questions like the last time the system worked as it should, when the problem began, and what is known or not known about the problem. Then the team should put together a one sentence definition of the problem.

Explore solutions

The next step is to begin brainstorming possible solutions to the problem. After coming up with various solutions, you also need to look at what would be involved in putting them into practice.

Taking action

This is where you implement your solution. It is the responsibility of the team leader or project manager to make sure that everyone knows what their particular role is and is doing what they need to.

Looking back

This is where you review the process to assess how well it worked. You need to evaluate how well everyone on the team worked together and how prepared you are to tackle any problems that may arise in the future.

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