# Problem Solving Strategies

- Huddle
- Brainstorming
- Methods of Communication
- Guess and check
- Make a table or chart
- Draw a picture or diagram
- Act out the problem
- Find a pattern or use a rule
- Check for relevant or irrelevant information
- Find smaller parts of a large problem
- Make an organised list
- Solve a simpler problem
- Work backwards
- Guess (this includes guess and check, guess and improve)
- Act It Out (act it out and use equipment)
- Draw (this includes drawing pictures and diagrams)
- Make a List (this includes making a table)
- Think (this includes using skills you know already)
- Algorithms
- Heuristics
- Trial and Error
- Insight
- Team building
- Group Discussion

The following techniques are usually called problem-solving strategies:

- Abstraction: solving the problem in a model of the system before applying it to the real system
- Analogy: using a solution that solves an analogous problem
- Brainstorming: (especially among groups of people) suggesting a large number of solutions or ideas and combining and developing them until an optimum solution is found
- Critical thinking
- Divide and conquer: breaking down a large, complex problem into smaller, solvable problems
- Hypothesis testing: assuming a possible explanation to the problem and trying to prove (or, in some contexts, disprove) the assumption
- Lateral thinking: approaching solutions indirectly and creatively
- Means-ends analysis: choosing an action at each step to move closer to the goal
- Method of focal objects: synthesizing seemingly non-matching characteristics of different objects into something new
- Morphological analysis: assessing the output and interactions of an entire system
- Proof: try to prove that the problem cannot be solved. The point where the proof fails will be the starting point for solving it
- Reduction: transforming the problem into another problem for which solutions exist
- Research: employing existing ideas or adapting existing solutions to similar problems
- Root cause analysis: identifying the cause of a problem
- Trial-and-error: testing possible solutions until the right one is found

Method | Description | Example |
---|---|---|

Trial and error | Continue trying different solutions until problem is solved | Restarting phone, turning off WiFi, turning off bluetooth in order to determine why your phone is malfunctioning |

Algorithm | Step-by-step problem-solving formula | Instruction manual for installing new software on your computer |

Heuristic | General problem-solving framework | Working backwards; breaking a task into steps |

#### Over Fifty Problem-Solving Strategies Explained

**Strategies to help you understand the problem**- Clarify the problem
- Identify key elements of the problem
- Visualize the problem or a relevant process or situation
- Draw a picture or diagram of the problem or a relevant process or situation
- Create a model of the problem or a relevant process
- Imagine being the problem, a key process, or the solution
- Simulate or act out a key element of the problem
- Consider a specific example
- Consider extreme cases
- Acquire knowledge of relevant domains
- Change perspective
- Consider levels and systems

**Strategies to help you simplify the task**- Solve one part at a time
- Redefine the problem

**Strategies to help you determine the cause of the problem**- Collect information about what happens before, during, and after the problem
- Organise information into a table, chart, or list and look for a pattern
- Try to make the problem worse
- Compare situations with and without the problem
- Consider multiple causes and interactions
- Consider non-linear effects

**Strategies involving the use of external aids to help you identify possible solutions**- Ask someone, especially an expert
- Seek the answer in written material
- Use a tool or technology
- Apply a theory
- Apply the scientific method
- Use mathematics
- Use a formula

**Strategies involving the use of logic to help you identify possible solutions**- Reason by analogy in using what you have learned about similar problems
- Use deductive reasoning
- Use inductive reasoning
- Question assumptions

**Strategies using a possible solution as a starting point to help you solve a problem**- Guess, check, and adjust
- Work backward

**Strategies to help you determine which possible solution is best**- Estimate the likely costs and benefits of possible solutions
- Choose one or more options to implement
- Implement the best solutions and collect information about the effects of it

**Strategies using geometry for problem solving**- Do the opposite of what you have been doing
- Try a totally different approach

**Strategies to help you function optimally while problem solving**- Think of options without immediately evaluating them
- Set a goal with a purpose you value
- Avoid distraction
- Work in a new setting
- Adjust time limit to optimum
- Work with someone
- Create a positive mood with an optimum arousal level
- Think of the problem as a challenge or opportunity
- Think confidently
- Take a break
- Persist

**Strategies to help you solve multiple problems**- Adopt a problem solving orientation
- Apply triage
- Solve one problem at a time