What Is Problem Solving?

Problem Solving Steps

Problem solving involves the following steps;

  • Defining the goal;
  • Understanding the current situation;
  • Determining the gap;
  • Determining a course of action; and
  • Performing the steps to reach the goal.

Mountain Goat


Understanding Problem Solving

Problem solving is the ability of a life form to move from its current state to a desired state. What I mean by state is all attributes that can describe the life form at a point in time. For example, location, wealth, relationships, skills, assets, education, health, and everything else, even their temperature. Life forms from small cells to humans need to solve problems to exist. Humans have also learned to create machinery to solve problems on their behalf, such as computers.


Plants are considered not to have intelligence even though they can use problem solving and communication skills. Animal life forms are known to use these skills and much more, including reasoning, the ability to learn, memory, anticipation and planning, plus more.


A problem can be as simple as satisfying hunger, scratching an itch, or as complex as putting humans on the moon, or creating a sustainable existence for mankind.


Intelligence is the measure of a life form to recognise and solve problems. Some of it involves memorising and recalling information while the rest of the skill is predominantly analysis and calculation skills.

  Getting there


Problems are generally thought of as blockers which prevent a lifeform from getting to its desired state. A blocker is the absence of a solution - we don't know the answer. If we knew the answer then then we could proceed and there would be no problem.