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The 5 primary steps in problem-solving


A cable television technician trying to resolve a problem of weak signal. A teacher figuring out how to improve the performance of their students. A computer specialist looking for a way to speed up a slow program. It is hard to think of a job or position that doesn’t require problem-solving skills of some kind. No wonder it’s one of the most valued attributes employers in every career sector seek in job candidates.


Let’s have a look at the five primary steps in problem-solving, applied to a software developer who has to design a learning tool.


1. Analyze the problem. Clearly defining a problem and its causes is the first crucial step. The developer needs to gather and evaluate data about the users’ needs and knowledge. At the same time, they should list all the functional requirements of the solution.


2. Think alternative solutions. The ‘how’ process. The developer considers how the digital solution should work and what it should look like. Then they design solutions by developing algorithms to address the problems that have arisen during the previous step. However, as rarely a single strategy is the obvious route to solving a complex problem, they should consider a set of alternatives in case of failing the first solution.


3. Evaluate the best solution. It’s time for our developer to weigh potential costs, required resources, and possible barriers to successful solution implementation.


4. Implement a plan. Having decided a course of action, the developer finally transforms the design into a working solution.


5. Assess effectiveness. The best problem-solvers ascertain if their solution is working and how fast. Same way, our developer must gauge whether the digital learning tool meets the user’s needs.


Problems are at the center of what many people do at work every day. Understanding these five steps will enable you to effectively tackle problems in the future.