Problem Solving Methodologies

I refer you to the About the Author page where I emphasis the involvement in and responsibility for many aspects of computer based strategy in blue chip employers and clients.

Also over 20 years as a systems thinking tutor has meant the regular review and assessment of often quite major reports from talented students over an enormous variety of issues.

An “historical review” traces the evolution of analytical techniques from Work Study in the mould of scientific management to the holistic approach of systems thinkers.  The field is rife with acronyms – CIBP* = Complex Issues from a Broad Perspective, being most descriptive and SUDA = Sensing, Understanding, Deciding, Acting following one particular and useful methodology.

My most advanced 3 day course on methodologies is Advanced Systems Thinking Practice.

If you need further information to envisage how the technique might help your bottom line, then please contact us.

* American Industrialist, Henry Clay Frick of the late 19th century is reputed to have excelled and built his fortune on this skill.

More Acronyms in this field

SWOT= Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities & Threats

MCA = Multiple Criteria Analysis

5Ps = Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

4Ws & an H = Why What Who Where & How

The Open University has prepared reference book of dozens of techniques employed in Systems Thinking and Analytical Management Techniques in general.


We now go on to outline some of methods that can be applied.

 What are the Objectives of the Initiative?

Initiative means “policy” or “strategy”.

Test the Objectives

Are the Objectives Market Aware or Market Driven (Catch-up)

Review of the Issues

Draw a Spray Diagram to catalogue the issues and get the first pass at the systems involved

Draw a Rich Picture to portray the impacts with emotion

Draw a Systems Map to make sense of the structure of problems

Stakeholder matrix

Determine the System(s) of Interest

Re-test the Objectives

Analysis of the Issues

Draw a Systems Map to assess current organisation

Review System(s) of Interest

Draw an Influence Diagram


Draw a Multiple Cause Diagram


Explore the Issues

Consider a Sign Graph

Consider 2x2 matrix analysis

Re-test the Objectives

Consider a Model?

Decide on the target KPIs

Deciding on Actions

List possible remedial actions

Select the criteria against which the actions are judged

Check they relate to the target KPIs

Consider a Multiple Criteria Analysis (MCA), or SWOT or STEP analysis

The 2Ws an H can help – How, Why, What, When & Where

Do a reality check, is it practical?

Recommend the best choice(s)

Agree an Action Plan

Look at soft issues

Look at hard issues

Implement the project/strategy and phasing leading to project initiation