How to solve problems

Key message: A problem is solved by a method.


(The text is still in progress.)


How to solve problems? The process of problem solving -


I have a problem when I am dissatisfied with an initial situation (the current situation), but at the moment I am not able to achieve a desired target situation (the goal). It may be that I do not know what the goal looks like or the means to achieve the goal are unknown or an obstacle must be overcome on the way to the goal (e.g. the required means may be known but not available). So a problem has three main elements: the initial situation, the obstacle and the goal (the target situation).


In order to solve a problem, three main steps must always be carried out:

  1. analyze the problem (analyze the unsatisfactory situation, the obstacle and the goal)
  2. generate several alternative solution ideas (methods)
  3. make a decision (select a method).

 (Lindemann, U.(2009). Methodische Entwicklung technischer Produkte. Heidelberg: Springer, S. 46, my translation)


I need a method to solve the problem and reach the goal. A method is a way to a specific goal. In order to find a suitable method, I have to analyze the unsatisfactory situation, the obstacle and the goal.


Because I want to solve the problem optimally, I am not satisfied with the first idea for a method, but look for other alternative methods. From these I select the method that promises the greatest success and test it. This allows me to improve the chosen method.


For further explanations see "How to develop and apply methods?".


How to solve the climate change problem?

LEARN-STUDY-WORK is not a political website. Therefore this is just an example how to apply the first and the second step of the problems solving process shown in the image above.


First step: Analyse the unsatisfactory situation, the obstacle and the goal. Think of several solutions to overcome the obstacle.


The climate of our world changes. This is an unsatisfactory situation because as a result glaciers and sea ice melt, the sea level rises, more flooding and droughts occur, hurricanes and other storms become stronger, species become extinct and some diseases can spread due to migration.


The goal is to stop the climate change by reducing the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.


Unfortunately this is not easy to do because there are two obstacles:

1. To stop the climate change, many people would have to change their lifestyles considerably but not enough people agree.

2. To stop the climate change without changing the lifestyle would cost a huge amount of money but not enough countries are able or agree to invest this amount of money.


Second step: After the analysis of the situation, the obstacles and the goal I list all conceivable strategies (a strategie is a long-term plan):


How to solve the climate change problem? -


*) "Use economic power" means buying green products and services and investing in "green" business.


Everyone must decide for himself which of these alternative strategies is effective and is in line with his values.