Stages of Problem Solving Process

Stages of Problem Solving Process

Stages of Problem Solving Process

1. Preliminary statement of the problem,
2. Statement of preliminary assumptions about the nature of the problem,
3. Selection and collection of information,
4. Analysis of information available,
5. Development of a plan,
6. Implementation of the plan, and
7. Evaluation of the plan.

1) Preliminary statement of the problem-A clear statement of the problem is necessary before processing to subsequent steps. Often, problem statement tends  to be vague, global, and lacking in precision. For example, school dropouts or unwed mothers are often referred to as problems. A more adequate formulation in the area of unwed mothers might be: lack of educational resources for teenage pregnant girls. In this statement, the need of the individual and society is education.

2) Statement of preliminary assumptions about the nature of the problem- This step is necessary to help make explicit the type of information needed for understanding and planning. As the problem is stated, implicit assumptions are made about its nature and cause, which provide indications as to the need in the situation and as to the block to need fulfillment.

3) Selection and collection of information-Sources for information should include a variety of perspectives that may be chosen from historical, social-psychological, biological, economic, political, religious, and ethical understandings.

Both the facts of the problem itself and the meaning of the problem to those concerned are important. Skill in the collection of information also calls for skill in communication and social interaction with persons who are sources of the information. The values of social work call for the client to be a primary source. There is a need to determine and accumulate relevant evidence about the situation, and this evidence needs to be related to the salient features of the situation.

4) Analysis of information available- Analysis of information is influenced and directed by the purpose for which the analysis is to be used. Other purposes include determination of feasible goals and possible outcomes and of possible plans of action, interpretation of the meaning of the information gathered, and evaluation. The cyclical nature of the process becomes very apparent, for one returns to analysis as an ingredient of each step of the process. The carrying out of the process generates new information.

5) Development of a plan-Information and its analysis lead to understanding of what can be done to remove obstacles blocking need fulfillment. A social worker uses assessment in developing a plan of action.

Plans develop from a consideration of a variety of possible strategies and techniques. As a plan becomes more specific, the social worker will return to early steps in the process to gather and analyze new information needed for the specifics of planning. Consideration of a variety of plans is important in creative planning.

6) Implementation of the plan-In social work, implementation involves interaction between people and is interventive in nature. It is action based on thinking that has its source in feelings about concern or need. In addition, it is action based on substantial knowledge from many sources that explain and predict behaviour of persons in the situation.

7) Evaluation of the plan-This step may result in redefinition of the problem, expanded information gathering and analysis, of reformulation of the plan. If the goal has been reached, evaluation is an appropriate and necessary climax to the process. Regardless of the outcome of the plan, evaluation of what happened can lead to an understanding that can be transferred to other situations and to more effective problem solving in those situations.