How to Categorize and Solve Problems


At Thinking Faster, Jeffrey Phillips introduced his mental framework on solving problems. He uses an analogy of a wedding cake, which has different layers, and they are distinct yet inter-related to help him decide how to categorize and solve problems:

  • At the top – Strategy
  • Next down – Process / Culture
  • Next down – software applications / tools
  • At the bottom – data

He said an issue from business may be related to these four areas. When you see there is a problem related to lower layers, the root causes may actually be linked to higher layers. For instance:

… By demonstrating how a CRM system failure is not a problem with the actual software, but with the business processes it support and ultimately a failure of the management team to completely support the initiative, you can indicate the root causes of problems that may lie far beyond the initial symptom, and indicate the aspects of the business that need to change to completely solve the problem…

Using this sort of thinking to look into different layers in business process will help you solving some of the difficult issues. Using this along with method such as 5 Whys will help you find the root causes and able to fix it once and for all.

Mental Frameworks – [Thinking Faster]

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