The 4-Step Framework to Solve Almost Any Problem Like Top Strategy Consultants

How do you solve big problems? How do you answer difficult questions in life and business? Is there a systematic approach that fits any situation?

There is.

Luckily in university, I had a complete course about systematic problem solving taught by a senior partner at McKinsey Management Consulting.

I memorized and practiced every step and nuance of the framework. I knew I had found gold.

I then jumped into consulting myself, applying it daily. On the job but also in my private life. I gained an enormous confidence that whatever they throw at me there is a way to work it out.

It all starts with the problem.

We have to spend more energy on understanding and defining the problem before we jump to solutions.

It’s not what business executives like to hear from their consultants.

Yet, it’s one of the biggest pitfalls in problem-solving. Many of us over-rely on “fast” thinking. We quickly jump to an interpretation of the situation and to a possible solution.

This is especially true for experts who rely on mental models from their domain of expertise. They often fail to recognize the limits of their knowledge and become trapped by their expertise when conditions change.

If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions. — Albert Einstein

So what to do? How do I know when to start working on solutions? And how do I find solutions?

The answer is the 4S approach made famous by some of the big consulting companies: State, Structure, Solve, Sell (or Set in Motion if you can implement the solution yourself).

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