Problem Solving Skills

Oak Innovation


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How to get training material on problem-solving skills

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re looking for training material on problem-solving skills.

If you want to deliver a problem-solving training course but are not sure where to start, Oak Innovation training course material will help to build problem-solving skills at all levels within the workplace (e.g., managers, team leaders, supervisors, and front-line staff). Often our customers pair this problem-solving skills course with our training content on how to improve decision-making skills.

Let’s explore what content you will receive and how best to use this material.

Target audience

The Problem-Solving Skills training program is especially beneficial for line-staff, human resource professionals, general managers, and senior executives that seek to improve their problem-solving skills.

Course objectives

Use these training course materials to deliver a course on practical problem-solving. At the end of the course, your participants will be able to:

  • Define problem-solving
  • Identify different types of problems
  • Apply ten techniques
  • Put in place two effective planning techniques
  • Apply a seven-step model
  • Understand why problem-solving can sometimes fail
  • Determine what methods are best

What you get

You will instantly receive the following training course materials to deliver your problem-solving training courses:

  • 26-page facilitator manual
  • 76-page participant manual
  • 30 powerpoint slides
  • Practical exercises
  • Further reading
  • Course evaluation form
  • Action plan

Bonus free training materials available

You will also receive the following free training guides:

  • Training icebreakers
  • How to select training materials
  • Training games
  • How to increase participation
  • Learn to improve your questioning skills
  • How to improve your listening skills
  • Learn how to deal with difficult people
  • How to evaluate training courses

Course outline

Introduction – Most of us spend a lot of our workday solving problems. Starting with the basics, we have to get to work (getting out of bed for some can be challenging enough!!!). Then, while at work, we have a wide range of organizational and personal situations that will require out problem-solving skills (these can be both small or large, regular or irregular). We move through the day interacting with problem situations, and so on throughout the day.

Within business environments, we often refer to a problem as a deviation from acceptable performance. This deviation may seem a little challenging but is straightforward. For example, there can be a gap between what is happening and what is supposed to be happening. The purpose of problem-solving at work, therefore, becomes to close this performance-gap wherever possible.

Getting into the detail of the content will allow you to use the content to explore what is a problem. Then, discuss why we need to solve problems. And, encourage participants to use reflection while solving problems.

Problem-solving techniques – For so many businesses, it is just the right time to think about improving problem-solving skills. This is something we frequently hear from clients with leadership development training needs.

While the uninitiated tend to think of problem-solving techniques as challenging or involving lots of complicated steps, those who are prepared to dig a little deeper will tell you how many of these techniques are very straightforward and useful.

With all this in mind, use the content provided to examine ten problem-solving techniques. These include:

  • Brainstorming
  • TPN Analysis
  • Matrix Analysis
  • Paired Comparisons
  • Team Purpose Analysis
  • The Cause & Effect Diagram
  • SWOT Analysis
  • The 5 Ws
  • The 5 Whys
  • The Six Thinking Hats

During this critical section, we suggest that you share your perspectives on problem-solving within companies. Your experiences and reflections will make the content more meaningful to your audience. And, with so many opportunities for open discussions, this part of the course is ideal for stimulating feedback. Build a relationship with your audience that will pay off in terms of their engagement and participation. To put it simply, this form of storytelling and exchange will help your audience to get the maximum benefit from the material presented.

Planning & implementation – Ever find yourself so challenged, frustrated, and annoyed, that you can’t solve a problem? Well, these stumbling blocks happen to us too, and we’ve no doubt that your audience has felt the same way. This sense of being overwhelmed is very natural, expected, and should be acknowledged to your audience.

One of the best ways to improve the problem-solving skills of your audience is to use the content to explore the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle and force field analysis.

The PDCA Cycle is often referred to as the Deming Cycle or the Deming Wheel after its proponent, W Edwards Deming. It is also sometimes called the Shewhart Cycle. In this model, there are four simple stages. Use the content provided to discuss these stages with your audience.

Next, introduce the force field analysis method to highlight that there are many competing forces at work within all decision-making processes. We find that Force Field Analysis is a robust technique when used in conjunction with the PDCA Cycle – especially for looking at all the forces for and against a plan. In particular, it will help your audience to weigh the importance of these factors and allow them to decide whether a project is worth implementing.

Use the content to share that Kurt Lewin developed this technique to assist in diagnosing situations (e.g., all the forces for and against a decision). Experience shows that it is particularly useful when looking at the variables involved in planning and implementing a change program and when attempting to overcome resistance to change. Lewin assumed that in any situation, there are both driving and restraining forces that influence any change that may occur.

A useful problem-solving process – The need for effective problem-solving methods is one of the most common reasons companies seek out training courses. Businesses want practical and valuable tools to improve performance and to prevent problem situations early.

Here is a seven-step Problem Solving Process that you can discuss with your audience. These steps include:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Explore the problem
  3. Set goals
  4. Look at alternatives
  5. Select the best solution
  6. Implement the solution
  7. Evaluate

When problem-solving fails – Think about your own experiences with solving problems. We suspect that some of these experiences were successful, and others may not have gone so well. Use the content provided to share that problem-solving can fail because of the following four reasons:

  1. Poor problem-solving skills
  2. Lack of focus
  3. Lack of resources
  4. Non-implementable solutions

Sharing problem-solving success stories with your audience at this stage in the course will also help to embed their learning.

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Frequently asked questions from training courses on problem-solving skills

What is problem-solving?

Problem-solving is the “steps we take to achieve a specific goal.”

What are the main two types of problems that can exist?

These are:

  1. Problems where the current situation is unexpected. These are known as closed or maintenance problems.
  2. Those where we want to change our current position in some way. But, that there is an obstacle preventing us from doing so. These are open-ended or achievement problems.

What is a closed problem?

Closed problems occur when something happens that should not have happened, or something we expected to happen has not happened, e.g., there is a change from what would be typical or expected.

For example, it could be the unexpected resignation of a critical member of staff, or that the materials required to produce your new product have not arrived as planned.

The cause (or obstacle) may be known or unknown. Still, something now needs to be done about it.

What are open problems?

Open-ended problems occur when we want to achieve a specific objective, but certain obstacles are blocking our progress. There are three main groups:

  • When we are unable to reach our current objective (e.g., failing to meet a production target)
  • When we could exceed our current objective (e.g., improved efficiency)
  • When a new objective could be achieved through problem-solving, e.g., creating a new product or service

Why do we need to solve problems in organizations?

The answer is, again, very straightforward. In organizations, where problems exist but remain unsolved the following will most likely occur:

  • Staff can become de-motivated
  • Loss of customers
  • Waste of resources
  • Reduction of profit
  • Compromised growth/survival risk
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased enjoyment
  • Less stress
  • Improved quality
  • Improved efficiency

What are the ten main problem-solving techniques?

If you’re looking problem-solving techniques, here are the top ten methods:

  1. Brainstorming
  2. TPN analysis
  3. Matrix analysis
  4. Paired comparisons
  5. Team purpose analysis
  6. Cause and effect diagram
  7. SWOT analysis
  8. The 5 Ws
  9. The 5 Whys
  10. Six thinking hats

What are the steps involved in completing a TPN analysis?

A TPN Analysis is a simple technique that will allow you to look at problems from the perspective of what ones you can do something about. The methodology for TPN analysis is very straightforward:
Take the numbered list from your brainstorming session. For each item on the list, decide whether your span of control over it is

  • T - Total
  • P - Partial
  • N - None

This breakdown will force any individual or group to look only at the problems that they can have a real impact. It is essential that when adopting this technique that a degree of realism and honesty is applied. Time after time, we find that participants always realize that they have a lot more control over problems that the first estimate. It is this change of approach that we especially wish to share with you. With practice, we can all approach problems from a more confident starting position and also develop more successful solutions. This personal value of ‘possibility’ will significantly improve how you approach and ultimately solve more problems within work and non-work settings.

What is a simple problem-solving model?

If you’re looking for a simple problem-solving model to follow, here are seven simple steps that you can use:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Explore the problem
  3. Set goals
  4. Look at alternatives
  5. Select the best solution
  6. Implement the solution
  7. Evaluate

Why do some problem-solving techniques fail?

Here are important reasons to keep in mind:

  • Poor problem-solving skills
  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of resources
  • Non-implementable solutions
  • Responsibility for problem-solving

How will these training materials help you instruct your learners to be better problem solvers?

These course materials will help your participants to improve their problem-solving skills. And, they will understand a range of problem-solving techniques.

Can I edit the content and add my company logo?

Yes. You can now add your logo and customize the course content freely using Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. You can also deliver the course materials where, when, and as often as needed. Here at Oak Innovation, we like to give you more. That's why every set of course materials include training manuals, slides, and guides. We also include exercises, tests, further reading, action plans, and much more.

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What our customers are saying about us

Read how real people are leading the way with our training material.

“Oak continually attends to the needs of various businesses and either creates or adjusts training modules on a variety of topics to be self-contained, practical, and easy to use. And they stand behind every product with personal service.”

Rey Carr, CEO,
Peer Resources

“My apologies for getting back at such a late date regarding your Problem Solving Course.
My feedback and comments are all positive. I was surprised to see the amount of information given in the participants manual. Thank you! It never fails that I need to add information into the participant manual.

I also was glad to see the increased amount of participant activities. Participants want to be involved more in exploring the skills required – this course provides more activities. I can see how many of the activities provided can be used in group settings to increase participant transfer of knowledge.

Overall, this product is excellent. It allows for customization toward everyone’s use while allowing the trainer to maintain the core knowledge of the information is clearly and concisely.
Thank you, and excellent job.”

Thadeus McClain
FKP Architects

“I have over 30 years of Training and Development experience. I just finished previewing Oaks newest course in problem-solving skills. Having done the research, designed and developed many training programs myself from the ground up, I can tell you that this program is ready to go! It is as complete and comprehensive as I have ever seen. It allows for customization and tailoring and is flexible enough to fit any business situation. I have used Oak products in the past and can assure you that you will not find a better product on the market that matches the comprehensive nature, quality, and price of this offering, they have thought of everything! Trust me, save yourself a lot of time, money, and energy. you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.”

Dave Benak, Owner

“I had a careful look over your course in problem-solving skills program. For the record, I’ve been facilitating this course for the last five years in a lot of companies – telecom, banking, oil & gas, FMCG, pharmaceutical, etc. SO, I could match the content of your training with the actual needs and problems raised by the participants.

So, it is a well-structured program, covering the essential aspects of the problem-solving process, giving a strong mindset oriented towards creating a positive attitude and a proactive culture within the company.”

Diasfera Ltd

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my learning experience for the course by Oak. It is one of the best courses I have gone through on the mentioned subject. I enjoyed the way, methodology, and the contents of the course. The course contents contain practical exercises, examples, problem-solving models, and key definitions. It also puts flash on further reading, materials, and books to be consulted for in-depth exposure to the subject topic. Hence, I strongly recommend this course to the professionals of various sectors of the industries because it will enable and upgrade them from the ordinary level of skills to a breakthrough level of skills. Professionals will not only enhance their knowledge but also save time and money in reaching the effective and efficient solutions of their particular problems in their industry.”

Farhan Majeed
Marketing Circle

“Thanks very much for the problem-solving material. It’s all very comprehensive. You offer much more, which will surely help trainers a great deal.”

Adam Knight-Markiegi
Policy Officer,

“The methodology used in the approaches to problem-solving is excellent. All the methods for better creative problem-solving work even outside the work environment. I am most impressed with the Attitude & Process approaches.

Keep up the excellent work.”

Kelvin Chuks Onwuharine
Personal Assistant To The Managing Director/CEO
Chase Express Services Limited.

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