Problem Solving Methodology and Action Planning

I was recently requested to outline a problem solving methodology and presented a successful and implementable model encompassing 3 concepts :

1. The Dick Lyle Problem Solving Method

2. Non-hierarchical Teams

3. An effective Action Planning model

Dick Lyle Problem Solving Method

Dick Lyle is a strategy consultant in San Diego who specializes in Problem Solving. His method involves 7 steps :-

Define the problem

Define the Issue in the context of desired outcomes.

What do we wish to resolve and to what end.

Also, issues usually have both Cause and Effect – define both of them.

Define the Objectives

What is the outcome/s you would like to achieve by resolving the Issue.

Generate Alternatives

Generate as many alternatives as possible – just generation not evaluation or selection.

Develop Action Plan/s

Evaluate the alternatives / options and select your solution.

Modify the solution until an action plan is fully developed. (see point 3)


Then evaluate / troubleshoot your solution. Look at Pros / Cons / Upsides / Potential pitfalls. Modify if appropriate.


Determine who can affect success of the action plan. Provide information to optimize success.


Remember an action plan is the beginning – Implementation is the key.

It involves commitment, follow up and monitoring until fully implemented.

Problem Solving Teams

When you understand the issue or problem then select those who can contribute to the best solution.

That selection should be cross functional and non hierarchical.

Roles are crucial i.e. Facilitator, Decider, Experts, Functional operators (i.e. Doers etc).

Teams should be selected for a specific issue and once resolved should be disbanded.

Action Plans

  • Clear problem statement – what is the issue to be resolved ?
  • Task description – what should be done to address the issue ?
  • Clarify what the task is
  • Clarify the desired deliverables / outcomes
  • Specify the type of action plan : Research, Recommendation, Plan, Act, Implement etc.
  • What resources are required : cash, equipment, facilities, personnel etc.
  • Time lines – start date, interim/s, final completion.
  • Meeting frequency and expected duration.
  • What is the measurable outcome. Necessary follow up monitoring reporting etc.

Obviously this process should only be adopted for complex issues which cannot be resolved by a single person.

When well managed it is highly successful and also enriching for the team members.

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