What Affects Problem Solving

Many factors affect the problem solving process and hence it can become complicated and drawn out when they are unaccounted for. Acknowledging the factors that affect the process and taking them into account when forming a solution gives teams the best chance of solving the problem effectively. Below we have outlined the key factors affecting the problem solving process.

Understanding the problem 

The most important factor in solving a problem is to first fully understand it. This includes understanding the bigger picture it sits within, the factors and stakeholders involved, the causes of the problem and any potential solutions. Effective solutions are unlikely to be discovered if the exact problem is not fully understood.

Personality types/Temperament 

McCauley (1987) was one of the first authors to link personalities to problem solving skills. Attributes like patience, communication, team skills and cognitive skills can all affect an individual’s likelihood of solving a problem. Different individuals will take different approaches to solving problems and experience varying degrees of success. For this reason, as a manager, it is important to select team members for a project whose skills align with the problem at hand.


Individual’s skills will also affect the problem solving process. For example, a straight-forward technical issue may appear very complicated to an individual from a non-technical background. Skill levels are most commonly determined by experience and training and for this reason it is important to expose newer team members to a wide variety of problems, as well as providing training.

Resources available

Although many individuals believe they have the capabilities to solve a certain problem, the resources available to them can often slow-down the process. These resources may be in the form of technology, human capital or finance. For example, a team may come up with a solution for an inefficient transport system by suggesting new vehicles are purchased. Despite the solution solving the problem entirely, it may not fit within the budget. This is why only realistic solutions should be pursued and resources should not be wasted on other projects.


External factors should also always be taken into account when solving a problem, as factors that may not seem to directly affect the problem can often play a part. Examples include competitor actions, fluctuations in the economy, government restrictions and environmental issues.

Carskadon, Thomas G, Nancy G McCarley, and Mary H McCaulley. (1987). Compendium of Research Involving the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Gainesville, Fl.: Center for Applications of Psychological Type, 1987. Print.