Top Ten proven problem-solving techniques and frameworks

In the fast-paced and dynamic world of business, the ability to effectively solve problems is a crucial skill. Whether it’s tackling operational challenges, optimizing processes, or navigating complex decisions, organizations rely on proven problem-solving techniques and frameworks to drive success. These methodologies provide structured approaches that help identify root causes, analyze data, and generate innovative solutions.

In this post and upcoming posts, we delve into the realm of problem-solving, unveiling the top ten proven techniques and frameworks widely utilized in the business world. Each approach has stood the test of time, demonstrating its effectiveness in addressing a range of issues faced by organizations. By understanding and applying these problem-solving strategies, you can enhance your decision-making capabilities, foster continuous improvement, and propel your business toward favorable outcomes.

Join us as we explore these powerful problem-solving methodologies, from the renowned PDCA cycle to the creative thinking principles of TRIZ. We’ll uncover their core principles, outline their step-by-step processes, and showcase real-world examples of their successful implementation. Whether you’re a business professional, an aspiring entrepreneur, or simply curious about problem-solving methodologies, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to tackle challenges head-on.

Get ready to unlock your problem-solving potential and discover the transformative impact these top ten techniques and frameworks can have on your business endeavors.


  1. PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act): PDCA is a problem-solving cycle that involves planning, executing, evaluating, and making necessary adjustments. It promotes continuous improvement by iteratively addressing and resolving problems.
  2. 5 Whys: The 5 Whys technique involves asking “why” repeatedly to uncover the root cause of a problem. By exploring deeper layers of causes, it helps identify underlying issues and formulate effective solutions.
  3. Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa Diagram): A fishbone diagram is a visual tool used to identify and categorize potential causes of a problem. It organizes causes into categories like people, processes, equipment, and environment, facilitating a comprehensive analysis.
  4. SWOT Analysis: SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a framework for evaluating an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. It helps in strategic planning, decision-making, and problem-solving.
  5. DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control): DMAIC is a problem-solving approach used in Six Sigma methodologies. It provides a structured framework for defining problems, measuring performance, analyzing data, improving processes, and implementing controls.
  6. A3 Problem-Solving: The A3 problem-solving method, derived from Toyota’s lean management principles, involves using a single sheet of paper (A3 size) to capture the problem, analyze its root causes, propose countermeasures, and create an action plan.
  7. TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving): TRIZ is a problem-solving methodology that emphasizes creative thinking and systematic innovation. It provides a toolkit of principles and techniques to overcome technical contradictions and generate inventive solutions.
  8. Kaizen: Kaizen is a continuous improvement philosophy originating from Japan. It focuses on small, incremental changes in processes and systems to eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and drive ongoing problem-solving efforts.
  9. Pareto Analysis: Pareto analysis, also known as the 80/20 rule, helps identify the most significant factors contributing to a problem. It prioritizes efforts by focusing on the vital few factors that have the greatest impact.
  10. Decision Trees: Decision trees are graphical tools used to map out decisions and potential outcomes. They help in analyzing complex problems and considering multiple alternatives, enabling more informed and structured decision-making.

These problem-solving techniques and frameworks have been widely adopted and proven effective in various business contexts. Depending on the nature of the problem, selecting, and applying the most suitable technique or framework can greatly enhance problem-solving capabilities and drive positive outcomes.

Top Ten Business Frameworks to solve Complex business problems

Learning business frameworks can be valuable for analyzing and solving complex business problems. Here are some widely recognized business frameworks that you can consider learning:

1. SWOT Analysis: This framework helps assess a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, providing a holistic view of its internal and external factors.

2. Porter’s Five Forces: Developed by Michael Porter, this framework analyzes the competitive forces within an industry, including the bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, the threat of new entrants, the threat of substitutes, and industry rivalry.

3. Business Model Canvas: This framework provides a visual representation of a company’s business model, encompassing key elements such as customer segments, value proposition, channels, revenue streams, and cost structure.

4. Value Chain Analysis: This framework examines a company’s primary and support activities to identify areas of competitive advantage and cost optimization along the value chain.

5. PESTLE Analysis: This framework evaluates the external macro-environmental factors that can impact a business, including political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental aspects.

6. McKinsey 7S Framework: This model assesses seven internal elements (strategy, structure, systems, shared values, skills, staff, and style) to understand the alignment and effectiveness of an organization.

7. Blue Ocean Strategy: This framework encourages companies to create uncontested market spaces (blue oceans) by pursuing innovative and differentiated strategies rather than competing in existing market spaces (red oceans).

8. Balanced Scorecard: This performance measurement framework incorporates financial and non-financial metrics across four perspectives—financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth—to provide a balanced view of organizational performance.

9. Lean Startup: This framework emphasizes iterative product development, customer feedback, and continuous improvement to build successful startups with reduced waste and increased efficiency.

10. OKR (Objectives and Key Results): This goal-setting framework helps organizations define clear objectives and measurable key results to align teams and track progress toward strategic goals.

Remember, each framework has its specific application and context. It’s beneficial to understand their principles and adapt them to suit your specific business needs. Continuously learning and integrating these frameworks into your decision-making process can enhance your business acumen and problem-solving abilities.

Assessing Competitive Landscape: Strategic Positioning and Competitive Advantage for Startups

In the fast-paced and competitive business environment, startups face numerous challenges in establishing their presence and gaining a competitive edge. Assessing the competitive landscape is a crucial step in strategic formulation, as it allows startups to identify market opportunities, understand competitors, and strategically position themselves for success. This blog post explores the technical aspects of assessing the competitive landscape, followed by analogies that illustrate key concepts, ultimately providing startups with valuable insights to navigate the complex world of strategic positioning.

Assessing the Competitive Landscape

Assessing Competitive Landscape: Strategic Positioning and Competitive Advantage for Startups_murali_marimekala

Defining the Competitive Landscape

To effectively assess the competitive landscape, startups must first define the boundaries of their market and identify key competitors. This involves conducting thorough market research, analyzing industry trends, and mapping out the competitive landscape to gain a comprehensive understanding of the market dynamics.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is a powerful tool for evaluating a startup’s internal capabilities and external environment. By identifying strengths and weaknesses, startups can capitalize on their unique advantages while addressing areas of improvement. Opportunities and threats analysis helps identify potential growth areas and anticipate challenges in the competitive landscape.

Competitor Analysis

Understanding competitors is essential for startups to differentiate themselves and identify areas of competitive advantage. Startups should analyze competitors’ products, pricing strategies, marketing approaches, target markets, and customer experiences to identify gaps and opportunities in the market. This analysis enables startups to position themselves strategically and offer unique value propositions.

Market Segmentation

Segmenting the market helps startups identify target customer groups and tailor their strategies accordingly. By dividing the market into distinct segments based on demographics, psychographics, or behavior, startups can better understand customer needs and preferences, enabling them to develop targeted marketing and product strategies.

Value Chain Analysis

Analyzing the value chain provides startups with insights into the activities and processes that create value in their industry. By examining each step of the value chain, startups can identify opportunities for cost optimization, operational efficiency, and value creation. This analysis helps startups understand their position in the value chain and identify areas where they can gain a competitive advantage.

Analogies: Bringing the Concepts to Life

The Chess Game Analogy

Imagine a game of chess, where startups represent individual players striving to outmaneuver their opponents and achieve victory. Each player studies their opponent’s moves, anticipates their strategies, and positions their pieces strategically to gain an advantage. Similarly, startups must assess the competitive landscape, analyze competitors’ moves, and strategically position themselves to capture market opportunities and gain a competitive edge.

The Sports Tournament Analogy

Think of a sports tournament where teams compete for the championship. Each team analyzes their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, studies their playing styles, and adjusts their game plans accordingly. Similarly, startups need to assess the competitive landscape, understand competitors’ offerings, and position themselves in a way that highlights their unique strengths and offers a compelling value proposition to customers.

The Ecosystem Analogy

Visualize the natural ecosystem, where different species coexist and compete for resources. Each species has unique characteristics and strategies to survive and thrive in their environment. Similarly, startups operate in an ecosystem where they must identify their niche, differentiate themselves from competitors, and leverage their unique strengths to gain a competitive advantage and secure their place in the market.

Assessing the competitive landscape is a critical step for startups in strategic formulation. By understanding market dynamics, identifying competitors, and strategically positioning themselves, startups can gain a competitive advantage and thrive in a crowded marketplace. The technical insights provided in this blog post offer startups practical tools and frameworks to assess the competitive landscape effectively

SWOT Analysis

In our previous post, we explored the McKinsey 7S Framework as a tool for analyzing high-performing organizations. However, it is important to note that this framework should not be applied in isolation. Instead, it can be effectively utilized in conjunction with the SWOT analysis to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

When it comes to strategic planning, businesses must consider both internal and external factors that can affect their performance. One of the most popular tools used to conduct this analysis is the SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT analysis is a simple but powerful tool that helps businesses understand the key factors that can impact their performance and make informed decisions accordingly.

SWOT Analysis


Strengths refer to the internal factors that give a business an advantage over its competitors. These are the qualities that make a business unique and distinguish it from others in the market. Some common examples of strengths include a strong brand reputation, loyal customer base, unique product features, or efficient production processes.

When conducting a SWOT analysis, businesses should identify their key strengths and leverage them to maximize their performance. For example, a business with a strong brand reputation can use this to increase customer loyalty and attract new customers. A business with unique product features can use this to differentiate itself from competitors and capture market share.


Weaknesses refer to the internal factors that put a business at a disadvantage compared to its competitors. These are the areas where a business needs to improve in order to remain competitive in the market. Common examples of weaknesses include a lack of financial resources, poor management, outdated technology, or low employee morale.

Identifying weaknesses is an important part of conducting a SWOT analysis because it helps businesses understand where they need to improve in order to remain competitive. For example, a business with poor management can identify areas for improvement and implement changes to improve employee productivity and satisfaction.


Opportunities refer to the external factors that businesses can leverage to improve their performance. These are the trends or changes in the market that a business can capitalize on to increase its revenue or market share. Common examples of opportunities include changes in consumer behavior, technological advancements, or changes in government policies.

Identifying opportunities is an important part of conducting a SWOT analysis because it helps businesses stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on emerging trends. For example, a business in the healthcare industry can capitalize on the growing trend of telemedicine to expand its services and reach a wider audience.


Threats refer to the external factors that can negatively impact a business’s performance. These are the challenges or risks that a business must be aware of in order to make informed decisions. Common examples of threats include changes in consumer preferences, increased competition, economic downturns, or changes in government regulations.

Identifying threats is an important part of conducting a SWOT analysis because it helps businesses prepare for potential challenges and minimize their impact. For example, a business in the travel industry can prepare for potential economic downturns by diversifying its revenue streams and reducing its dependence on one market segment.