Problem Solving Methods


There are multiple techniques used to solve a problem.  i differentiate Techniques such as PDCA, DMAIC or 8-D from Methods  which would include Formula Substitution, Trial And Error, the Scientific Method, and Creative Problem Solving. Depending on the circumstance one method chosen over another


When using Formula sustitution to solve typical problems in math and physics, one common approach is as follows:

  •       Study the problem statement.
  •        Write down the known values and variables.
  •        Write down the unknown variables you wish to solve for.
  •        Write down the equations that contain the variables in question.
  •       Manipulate the equations so that they solve for the unknown variables.
  •        Substitute the know values in these equations.
  •        Proceed step-by-step to solve the problem.
  •        Check your answer.


Trial and error works best for some people when they start with their intuitions. Those with less experience may find it more helpful to use a systematic trial and error approach.

One important aspect of trial and error is that the trial accurately models reality. The vehicle proving grounds used to test US military vehicles contains many different terrains, with dirt, dust, and sand that behaves like the varieties of dirt, dust, and sand likely to be encountered throughout the world. This was an attempt to more closely mimic reality.

But can trial and error accurately test the reasons or causes behind phenomena? Do we find out if our guesses and theories are correct?


Another great problem solving method is the scientific method. This is especially useful in testing a theory. It usually includes the following steps:

  • Gain background information (study, observation).
  • Formulate a hypothesis or educated guess to test.
  • Develop a methodology to test that theory.
  • Objectively perform an experiment, complete with control groups, and accurately record observations.
  • Analyze the results to determine whether they support the hypothesis.
  • Draw conclusions.


A different method that results in divergent, creative ideas has been called “creative problem solving.” There are many different methods of creative problem solving; the following “OFPISA” method is one approach suggested by Sidney J. Parnes:

  • Observation (or keeping one’s mind, eyes and ears tuned for seeing possible problems and solutions)
  • Fact-finding (or gathering data, especially through study)
  • Problem-finding (wherein a well-formulated problem statement is developed)
  • Idea-finding (or the generation of very many possible solutions, deferring judgment)
  • Solution-finding (or the application of criteria to determine a single solution)
  • Acceptance-finding (or finding ways for oneself and others to accommodate and live with the solution)