Harvard Business Review contributor Larry Clark provides great insight into problem solving that starts with making sure you understand the kind of problem you’re solving.  To make his point, he refers to the Cynefin Framework, which is used to categorize situations and identify strategies to address them. The 4 categories are: 

  • Simple.  These are situations that can be addressed with good instructions, checklists or best practices.  
  • Complicated. Situations where cause and effect are known up front, but may require significant effort or expertise to address them.  Clark says up until now, most business challenges fell into this category.
  • Complex situations are where outcomes can’t be accurately predicted and the relationship between cause and effect cannot be known until after the fact.  
  • Finally, the Chaotic.  When the relationship between cause and effect is unclear, even after the fact — like in today’s business world.