5 Problem Solving Questions at the Heart of Effective Problem Solving

Here are five problem solving questions that are understated ideas at the heart of effective problem solving, but they’re often missed in our rush towards a solution.

As Peter Drucker stated: “Do not focus on finding an answer: focus on defining the question”

You can read this short article to gain a fresh perspective and challenge your current practice by asking five crucial problem solving questions.

1. Have you got a problem to solve or a decision to make?

Sometimes a lot of time can be saved by making a decision rather than trying to solve a situation that is not really a problem.

2 Have you found a problem that is important and valuable to solve?

This is one of the best questions you can ask because it leads you to start to find problems: valuable problems to solve. Most problem solving processes miss this crucial stage of “problem finding” and as a result tend towards being re-active processes that purely respond to problems as they emerge. Asking this question is an essential problem solving skill to find the “right” problems to solve.


3 Have you defined the problem clearly and expressed it in terms of an opportunity?

One of the common reasons for problems not being solved is that they are not clearly defined in the first place. A second and more important reason though for defining the problem clearly is to phrase it in terms of an opportunity.

Framing a problem in the positive raises the process from simply trying to fix something that might be wrong to exploring the possibilities and potential to create something valuable and better from the problem.

4 What are you now able to do, or what could you do next, now that you have improved things by solving the problem?

A problem solving process shouldn’t end with implementation. Solving a problem should lead to an appreciation of what you are now able to do. Firstly to value the benefits derived from solving the problem and secondly to ask what should you look at next?

5 What further opportunities can you now realize that you weren’t able to before?

Finally as well as appreciation, solving a problem should be a spring board to new things that you can now do that you weren’t able to do before.


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