Fundamentals of problem-
Differentiating between structured and
What types of problems that keep Engineers
awake at night?
What are the constraints to solving engineering
Critical success factors of
effective problem resolution
The right problem solving strategy
Whole brain thinking – combination of left
(rational) + right brain (creative) thinking
Sufficiency – time, information and resources
Commitment and ownership (to the
implementation of the solution)
Whole Brain problem-solving
Step 1: Problem identification, analysis and definition
Step 2: Search for information and generate alternative
Step 3: Evaluate alternative solutions
Step 4: Select the most appropriate solution
Step 5: Implement the appropriate solution
Step 6: Evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented
Step 1: Problem identification,
analysis and definition
This means the search for facts which leads to the
development of many explanations and symptoms of
Ultimately results in the identification of the root causes
i.e. source/origin of the problem as well as the extent of
A useful technique to use during this step is the fishbone
Step 2: Search for information/
generate alternative solutions
This step entails the gathering of problem-related
information and other variables that may have a bearing
on the identified problem, in order to make an informed
At this step, it is important for team leaders to identify
decision criteria that will assist in the making of an
The decision maker will have to find alternatives that
could resolve the problem and these alternatives will have
to be relevant to the problem-solving process.
Typically team leaders may use a variety of idea/solution
generating techniques and problem solving methods e.g.
Step 3: Evaluate alternative
Team leaders must critically analyze each alternative
solution, appraising each against the criteria identified in
The comparisons will reveal the relative strengths and
weaknesses of each alternative and it will highlight the
best alternative that can maintain the most significant
needs of the criteria.
A useful technique that team leaders can use during the
evaluation of ideas/solutions is the decision matrix.
Step 4: Select the most
Once the team leader has analyzed the alternatives, the
next step is to choose the best alternative.
Making an informed and objective decision.
Step 5: Implement the
The team leader then puts the decision into action using
the chosen alternative accordingly.
Develops an implementation plan – 4 W’s + H.
Step 6: Evaluate the
effectiveness of the
The team leader monitors and evaluates the
outcomes of the decision, to see if the problem had been
They determine whether the decision was best, and if
not s/he would need to assess what went wrong.
Taking remedial/corrective action (if required)