practice, you will probably need to adjust this sequenceto fit the moment. Developments in one phase may causeyou to readjust or reconsider factors in a previous step.The following are the seven steps to problem solving:1.2.3.4.5.6.7.Recognize the problemGather the dataList all possible solutionsTest/discuss possible solutionsSelect the best possible solutionImplementFollow-upRECOGNIZE THE PROBLEMCan you take a trip without first deciding whatmethod of transportation to use or without knowingwhere you want to go? Obviously, you must recognizeyour need to get from one place to another. Secondly,you must know your goals or the place you intend tovisit. You must consider the obstacles such as cost, time,available transportation, and routes to take. The abovefactors contribute to recognizing your problem throughanalysis of the elements.GATHER THE DATAYou now have a goal and you have identified thethings that stand between you and success. Next, youmust get all the information you need to solve theproblem. You need to know about road conditions aswell as bus, train, and airline schedules and fares. Dividethis information into the following categories:Facts–These are known truths. For example, youcan call the highway patrol for road conditions, you canconsult schedules for trip times, and a map will providedistance information.Assumptions–Some data is assumed, such as theaccuracy of information concerning fares and possibleroutes.Criteria–A criterion is a standard of judging. This ismost important in data gathering. It is a rule by whichyou measure such things as facts, principles, opinions,and assumptions. In problem solving, you shouldalways have some criteria to consider. For example, youmight consider criteria such as the following: departuremust be between 0800 and 1000, arrival must be before1700, luggage must include two suitcases and a trunk,and travel money is limited to . The criteria will helpyou decide which method of travel to use. The bus maybe too slow. The train may leave too early. Airfare mayexceed available funds. Whatever criteria you set up willhelp you decide between alternatives.LIST ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONSWhere do you find possible solutions? You may getideas almost immediately. The longer you study,consider, and think about solutions, the morealternatives you will have. Solving the first two steps toproblem solving should generate some viablealternatives along the way.TEST/DISCUSS POSSIBLE SOLUTIONSIn every instance, you should consider each possiblesolution against the established criteria. Evaluate yoursolution by asking yourself or others the followingquestions:Is the solution suitable? Will this solutionproduce the desired results? Will it do the job?Is the solution feasible? Do the means forcompleting the job by this method exist? Can thejob be accomplished this way?Is the solution acceptable? Is the solution goingto be cost-effective? Will it fit commanddirectives? Even if the solution is cheaper, willit be more time-consuming?SELECT THE BEST POSSIBLE SOLUTIONAt this point, you can decide on the best solution byeliminating those that do not meet your criteria. Forexample, in planning your trip, you may eliminate rail,bus, and air travel because they do not fit your criteria.You may decide that driving your car is the best solutionto the problem.Of course most problems are not this simple. Youwill frequently find two or more alternatives that meetall your criteria. You must then decide which will be thebest. This may well be the hardest part of decisionmaking because it causes you to fall into amission-oriented frame of reference. Which alternativeis best for the overall mission? Which will best dovetailwith other ongoing projects? Which pays the mostdividends in the long run?4-12