Kepner Tregoe Problem Solving

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Drs. Charles Kepner and Benjamin Tregoe created this model in the 1950s, and it has since been utilised to solve some of the most difficult challenges, including troubleshooting the Apollo 13 crisis and safely guiding the stricken spacecraft back to Earth. It is likely to work for an organisation if it worked for NASA.

Kepner Tregoe Problem Solving

The Kepner-Tregoe framework consists of four reasonable assessments that assist in identifying problems, developing solutions, and minimising risks. They are explained as follows:

Situation Analysis

Step one of the Kepner-Trego method, situation analysis, is dedicated to just that. The following are some topics to think about when assessing your circumstance:

Recognise Priorities at All Levels

Examine your organisation’s mission, vision, values, priorities and goals at every level. Consider how each level is linked to the others.

Recognise What Others Are Doing

Examine the priorities of your organisation from the outside now that you know what they are. What are the other businesses doing in your area? What are the actions of industry and academia? What is making the news these days? Such inquiries will assist you in identifying the external factors that form your surroundings.

Examine the Processes and SOPs That Are in Place:

What tools, methods, and workflows does your team, organisation, or firm use to get things done? How do people exchange and consume data? The answers to these questions will assist you in gaining a better understanding of how things work. And understanding how things function is the first step in figuring out what is not working. Take into account upcoming events.

Problem Analysis

Now that you have a better understanding of your surroundings, it is time to find out what is wrong and why. This section will assist you in doing so.

Problem Identification

The first step is to make a list of potential issues. Does not it appear to be simple? Not so fast, my friend. Remember that you may be a new employee, a new manager, or a new team member. Therefore, even though you collected reams of data for your Situation Analysis, you may be having trouble putting the puzzle together. That is OK. Here are two methods for bringing your issues into sharper focus.

Identify the Root Cause

How do you know your problem is the proper one now that you have recognised it? You most likely have no idea. That is why, to make sure you are dealing with the appropriate issue, you should undertake a root cause analysis. The ‘5 Whys’ method is my preferred strategy for this.

5 Whys

To investigate the sources and effects that underlay a problem, the ‘5 Whys’ approach to root cause analysis is applied. You begin by describing your issue and inquiring as to why it is occurring. Continue in this manner 3–5 times more till you have figured out what is causing your difficulty.

Decision Analysis

Now that you have figured out what is causing the problem, you can make a list of alternative remedies, compare them, and pick the best one.

Generate Potential Solutions

In general, the quality of your selection will be proportional to the number of solutions you develop. If you are gifted in this area, this is where your imagination will shine. Here are two strategies to get your creative juices flowing if you are weak in that department.

Structured Brainstorming

One of the most efficient strategies to come up with new ideas is to use structured brainstorming. Begin by forming a group of at least two and no more than ten individuals. Write the underlying problem on a whiteboard, hand out post-it notes, and urge the group to brainstorm as many remedies as they can in ten minutes, placing each sticky note on the whiteboard. To avoid groupthink, this must be done quietly.

Next, assign two members of the group to organise the sticky notes into groups or themes. Depending on the number of ideas created, this should take 2–5 minutes. In the next step, these themes and their solutions will be compared against one another.

Mind Map

A thought map is another important tool for generating solutions. A mind map is a creative, hierarchical way of visualising the interdependence of thoughts. Begin by jotting down your fundamental reason in the middle of a page. Expand your thinking and make a list of prospective workstreams, solutions, and initiatives for each. When you let go of your inhibitions and write the first thing that comes to mind, mind mapping works best.

Choose the Best Solution

Your capacity to make good decisions will determine a large part of your success as a people manager. As a result, you should not take chances when selecting a remedy. Instead, use a methodical approach to guarantee you are picking the finest option. Pros and cons lists and decision matrices are two excellent methods for doing so.

Potential Problem Analysis

You have made it to the last but most important step: assessing potential issues. Your desire to move forward with implementation is probably stronger than it has ever been. But take your time. Step 4 will save you a lot of time and aggravation in the long run. This is where you will identify, appraise, and decide on risk management strategies.

Risk Identification and Assessment

Make a list of the potential dangers associated with your suggested remedy. In the automobile example above, you may see the possibility of the car breaking down or not being able to afford the car payment as a risk. Conduct a brainstorming session if you are having trouble identifying dangers. Examine the likelihoods and effects of the za you have identified next.

In our case, the chances of our new vehicle breaking down are low, but the repercussions may be severe if the problem is not covered under warranty or if we break down in a dangerous section of town with our infant in the car. If we are employed, the chances of not being able to afford the automobile payment are slim, but what if we lose our job? Were we going to be able to afford the car? If we default on the loan, we would have a negative mark on our credit, which will limit our purchasing power.


There are five risk management strategies to choose from, and you must select one for each risk you have identified:

  • Assume: Assuming a risk means you have detected it but haven’t taken any steps to mitigate it. You simply accept the possibility and deal with the ramifications if it does. This is an effective method for low-probability, low-impact threats.

  • Reduce: Taking pre-emptive actions to lessen the impact of risk so that the repercussions are smaller and easier to fix is known as risk reduction or risk mitigation. A notable example of a risk mitigation approach is the use of seat belts. A seat belt will not prevent an accident from occurring, but it will lessen the chance of injuries.

  • Transfer: Offloading risk to another entity is known as risk transfer. A bank that bundles a portfolio of high-risk loans and sells them to another institution is an example of risk transfer to a third party.

  • Exploit: When a risk has the potential to have a positive impact, you exploit it. In such instances, you should take precautions to guarantee that the risk does not arise. Assume we are creating an electric vehicle, and there is a chance demand will outstrip supply. You may take advantage of this danger by creating a new facility, stockpiling more resources, and recruiting more personnel.

  • Avoid: Taking deliberate measures to avoid danger is known as risk avoidance. The recent postponing of international gatherings in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak is a good example of risk avoidance. Amid a global epidemic, event organisers have judged that the risk of big gatherings is too severe.

Let us understand the application of Kepner-Tregoe model for a decision of buying a pre-owned car by an individual.

ProblemPossible CausePreventive ActionContingency Plan
Improper alignmentCar in accidentCheck alignmentDrop the decision of buying the car
Body conditionCar in accident, body rusted out, car in floodInspect body for rust, check for mould/ hidden rustAsk for lower price
Suspension problemsHard use, poor maintenanceCheck tiresFixes required
Leaking fluidsPoor maintenanceInspectFixes required
Odometer incorrectTampering/brokenLook for signs, check titleAsk for lower price
Car ready to fall apartPoor maintenance Look for signsDrop the decision of buying the car

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