How can we increase our profitability? Why is our product underperforming? How can we provide clean drinking water to all? Complex problem solving requires both specialist and generalist skills.

Much of our training at university and other places helps us develop specialist skills. Much less enables us to develop our generalist skills, that is, our strategic thinking. These, the thinking seems to go, we can acquire on the job, by trial and error.

But training by experience can be expensive. As an alternative, this site provides ideas to help you become a better strategic thinker.

1. define

The first step is to define the problem—i.e., to ensure that you are focusing on the correct problem, not on just a symptom or a less critical problem. This step is about identifying what you should be doing.

2. diagnose

Second, you need to diagnose the problem: understand its root cause(s), which may be facilitated through using a diagnostic issue tree / diagnostic map. This step is understanding why you have the problem in the first place.

3. identify

Next, identify all the potential solutions before deciding which one(s) to implement. This is how you can solve the problem.

4. implement

Finally, implement the solution(s): convince your team/boss/client that the solution you selected is the right one, implement it, and monitor its effectiveness. This is the do part.