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How to analyse and solve problems

How to solve problems

How to analyze problems

In general a problem is not well defined at the beginning and at first the structure of the problem must get clarified, before a strategy can be developed develop, how to solve the problem.

There are available some well proven methods, to analyze problems, like:

1. visual methods: concept maps, mind maps
2. diagrams: cause-effect diagrams
3. lists: classification of potential influences

The first step to analyse a problem is, to describe the problem as short as possible and list all factors, which could be important for the problem.

Thereafter several visual methods should be applied, to find the best graphical representation for the relations between these factors.

If there should be many factors, one should focus at first only onto the main factors, so that one understands the structure of the problem.

Thereafter the other factors can be added step by step.

The first step to solve a problem is, to collect all available information about it and structure them.

To get a good overview of the information and to see, where gaps are, the best is, to prepare a concept map.

A concept map is just a visual representation of the facts and assumptions ( which are written into boxes) and the relations between them.

An excellent free software for preparing concept maps is CmapTools, which can be downloaded at:

http://cmap.ihmc.us/

The help file is quite detailed, so that it should be no big problem, to master the software after several hours.

Mind maps are not so good to structure a problem, because they permit only to prepare a visual map with a radiant structure, which is excellent for writing an outline of a report or a book, but in general will not be a good representation for a problem

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Overview of the Problem Solving Cycle
http://erc.msh.org/quality/psoview.cfm

How to analyse business problems
http://www.requirementssolutions.com/Business_Systems_Problems.htmlhttp://sfhelp.org/basics/analyze.htm

Relationship problems in families
http://sfhelp.org/basics/analyze.htm

How to analyze psychological problems
http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/ht/fxanalysis.htm

Thinking about problems: Kepner-Tregoe
http://www.itsmsolutions.com/newsletters/DITYvol2iss24.htm

covers many aspects of problem solving
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/think/methods.htm


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