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Navigating Challenges: 5 Problem Solving Methods Every Manager Should Know

Problem-solving is an essential skill for managers.

Whether it's tackling operational challenges or devising innovative solutions, having a structured approach can make all the difference.

In this blog, we'll explore five comprehensive problem-solving methods tailored to managers.

Person trying to solve a problem using problem solving methods

5 End-to-End Problem Solving Methods | Plus Examples

1. The Six Sigma DMAIC Method:

    • Define: Clearly articulate the problem, its scope, and objectives.
    • Measure: Gather relevant data and metrics to assess the current state.
    • Analyse: Identify root causes using tools like fishbone diagrams or Pareto charts.
    • Improve: Develop and implement solutions to address the root causes.
    • Control: Establish monitoring systems to sustain improvements over time.
    • Example: A manufacturing manager utilises DMAIC to reduce defects in production, resulting in improved product quality and customer satisfaction.

2. The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Cycle:

    • Plan: Define objectives and develop a plan to achieve them.
    • Do: Implement the plan and execute the necessary actions.
    • Check: Evaluate results against objectives and collect feedback.
    • Act: Adjust the plan based on feedback and implement improvements.
    • Example: A project manager applies PDCA to streamline project workflows, leading to increased efficiency and faster delivery times.

3. The 5 Whys Technique:

    • Identify the problem and ask "why" it occurred.
    • Repeat the process for each answer until the root cause is uncovered.
    • Example: A logistics manager uses the 5 Whys to investigate a series of delayed shipments, discovering that the root cause is inadequate communication between departments.

4. The SCAMPER Technique:

    • Substitute: Consider alternatives for existing elements.
    • Combine: Merge different ideas or components to create new solutions.
    • Adapt: Modify existing ideas to fit the current context.
    • Modify: Alter aspects of the problem or solution to improve performance.
    • Put to another use: Explore alternative applications for existing resources.
    • Eliminate: Remove unnecessary elements or steps from the process.
    • Reverse: Consider reversing the problem or solution to generate new perspectives.
    • Example: A marketing manager uses SCAMPER to brainstorm innovative advertising campaigns, resulting in increased brand visibility and customer engagement.

5. The A3 Problem-Solving Method:

    • Background: Provide context and background information on the problem.
    • Current State: Describe the current situation and its impact.
    • Goal: Clearly define the desired outcome or objective.
    • Root Cause Analysis: Identify underlying causes using tools like 5 Whys or fishbone diagrams.
    • Countermeasures: Develop and implement solutions to address root causes.
    • Follow-Up: Establish metrics to track progress and ensure sustainability.
    • Example: A healthcare manager employs the A3 method to address patient wait times, leading to improved efficiency and patient satisfaction.


Effective problem-solving is a critical skill for managers, enabling them to overcome challenges and drive success in their organisations. By employing structured problem-solving methods such as Six Sigma DMAIC, PDCA, 5 Whys, SCAMPER, and the A3 method, managers can approach problems systematically and develop innovative solutions tailored to their specific needs.

With these comprehensive problem-solving techniques at their disposal, managers are well-equipped to navigate the complexities and achieve strategic objectives.

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