Problem Solving:

4 Levels of Problem Solving

Working Backward

Start from a Desired Result and Develop the Process Step by Step from There


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Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach Happiness, Achievement,  Inspiration and Innovation unlimited!


"No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking. " ~ Voltaire


Problem Solving Work Backward Strategy Work Backward Problem Solving Strategy, Working Backwards


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The Work Backward Strategy

To solve some problems, you may need to undo the key actions in the problem. Start consciously from the end of the process and develop it step by step from there.

“You know the famous kid's puzzle in which there's a picture of three fishermen each with a fishing rod connected to a long winding fishing line. One fishing line leads to a fish, and the other two lead nowhere. The question is, which fisherman has caught the fish? Most kids try answering this puzzle using trial and error. In each trial they select a different fisherman and carefully follow the line from there,” says Roni Horowitz, the author of Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking (ASIT) technique.

“There is of course a better method, which would be to start from the fish and follow the string to the fisherman. When thinking about a process, we're often fixated to follow the same sequence in our mind, as it would be in the "real" world. This way we miss opportunities to use insights that stem from following an alternative sequence, such as working backwards. So the working backwards technique tells us to consciously start from the end of the process and develop it step by step from there.”

A Sample Problem Solving Process

  • State the problem and identify the measures that most clearly indicate the problem you are seeking to solve, and the time over which the problem has changed, and will be solved.

  • Work back through the logic of what is causing the problem, using any information that may be relevant, to the 'resources' that are driving it.

  • Look at the history of the events that have brought the situation to its current level.

  • Sketch out how you think a solution for the future might work, by changing the input flows and working through what could happen to input and output levels.

When To Use the Work Backward Strategy

The Work Backward strategy may be appropriate when:

  • The final result is clear and the initial portion of a problem is obscure.

  • A problem proceeds from being complex initially to being simple at the end.

  • A direct approach involves a complicated equation.

  • A problem involves a sequence of reversible actions.

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  1. ASIT – Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking, Roni Horowitz


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