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All About the 7-Step Military Problem Solving Process

Written by  Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by  Brain Bartell

7 step military problem solving process

In addition to power and strength, the military relies on quick and decisive thinking. Members in service must be able to think on their feet and craft solutions in the blink of an eye. Obviously, this is not easy to do. But it is not too far-fetched when you realize that countless lives depend on a single personnel’s decision and course of action.

As such, every recruit coming into the military is taught and trained about the 7-step military problem solving process. This systematic approach is believed to be the best way for military members to address any problems that they encounter.

In short, the 7 steps to solve problems are:

To make it easier for you to comprehend and follow along, we have elaborated on each of the above steps in this article. So, continue reading by scrolling down!

Table of Contents

Step 1: Pinpoint the Problem

Step 2: identify the facts and assumptions, step 3: craft alternatives, step 4: analyze the generated alternatives, step 5: weigh between the generated alternatives, step 6: make and carry out your final decision, step 7: evaluate the results from your decision, army problem solving & decision making process, seven step military problem solving process.


The first step is to ID the problem, which means recognizing and identifying what needs fixing. Needless to say, you cannot attempt to seek a solution without first knowing what has to be addressed. By pinpointing your problem, you will have a clear goal or end destination in mind. Only then can you come up with the right steps to take.

To effectively define the problem, ask yourself the 5Ws—who, what, where, and when. In detail:

Always be crystal clear about the problem and try to view it in the most objective way as much as possible. Imagine you are the third person looking at It rather than from it. It also helps to organize your answers into a coherent and concise problem statement.

The next step is to ID the facts and assumptions. This entails that you get whatever additional information you can in the time that you have. Try to garner more facts than assumptions by reviewing all the possible factors, internal and external, and use them together with what you have thought out in the step above to determine the cause of the problem. You should also be aware of the nature and scope of the problem from this step.

From here, you take a sub-step: think about what you want the final result to be. This does not have to be complicated but it has to be very clear. For instance, one of your troop members may be lost and uncontactable. Your ultimate goal is to find him/her and return to your base together. Remember, having a wishy-washy end state will only make your problem solving process more difficult.

These first two steps constitute situation assessment, which serves as the basis for you to work towards the remaining steps of the military problem solving process.

Onto the third step, strive to develop as many potential solutions as possible. Here, you will have to exercise your imagining and visualizing skills. Brainstorm and refine any ideas simultaneously. Engage both critical and critical thinking in this step. If possible, take note of what you have come up with. Do not be hesitant and brush off any ideas.

Then, analyze your options. Consider all of your possible courses of action with all the available information that you have compiled in the previous steps. Take into account your experiences, intuitions, and emotions. This does not have to be a purely rational or mathematical procedure. Nevertheless, this does not mean that you are 100% guided by your instincts and emotions. You must have a good balance between the two.

This step naturally lends itself to the next: compare between your generated alternatives. Weigh between their respective pros and cons. In particular, look at their cost and benefit of success. Are there any limiting factors or potential for unintended consequences? Evaluate carefully and ask yourself a lot of questions. You can also consider using a table, T-chart, or matrix to compare visually.

Try to settle for the “best” solution or course of action that is both logical and feels “right”. Apart from picking the best, select two or three more workable solutions as backups. Keep them handy in case you need to refer back to them. During this process, you may merge ideas and mix-match bits and pieces—that’s perfectly fine!

Once you have made your decision, craft your action plans. Know the details—what exactly do you have to do to solve the problem? If it is a long-term problem that you have to address, set milestones and timelines with clear methods of measuring progress and success. On the other hand, if it is a short, instantaneous problem, communicate your plans clearly to anyone else involved. Be aware of the specifics and be brutally honest. Execute your course of action with care. But do not be rigid. If something happens out of the plan, be willing to adjust and adapt.

After your solution implementation, wrap up by assessing the results. Was it what you envisioned? Were there deviations? What did you take away? Answer all of the questions so you can be even more equipped for future endeavors. Think of it as a reflection stage. The 7 steps to problem solving in the military are a continuous process—you will be confronted with challenges over and over, so do not skip this strengthening step. It will further your skills and expertise to handle problems going forward.


Another set of seven steps that you may come across during your service is the army problem solving steps. Needless to say, this is applied to the army problem solving process.

This is a part of the MDMP, short for the military decision making process. In each step, there are inputs and outputs. In general, it is more specific than the above set of steps.

These seven steps focus on collaborative planning and performance. Plus, set the stage for interactions between different military agents, including commanders, staff, headquarters, etc.

COA is an abbreviation for a course of action. Thus, these steps are relatively similar to the steps that we have gone through earlier; specifically steps two: mission analysis, three: COA development, four: COA analysis, and five: COA comparison. Like the previous seven steps, these are carried out sequentially but can be revisited when needed.

The main difference is that these 7 steps to problem solving in the army are more explicitly directed to junior personnel. Hence, the mentioning of orders from higher-ranks, the significant role of commanders, and the need to earn approval before execution.

A mnemonic that service members use to remember this process is M.A.D.A.C.A.P. for:

You might want to remember this for an exam at military school, at NCO, or soldier of the month board.

You can learn more about the MDMP here:

So, there you have it—the 7-step military problem solving process. You should now be aware of two different but equally important sets of steps to problem solving and decision making. If you have any follow-up questions or thoughts, let us know in the comments. We look forward to hearing from you!


I am Everett Bledsoe, taking on the responsibility of content producer for The Soldiers Project. My purpose in this project is to give honest reviews on the gear utilized and tested over time. Of course, you cannot go wrong when checking out our package of information and guide, too, as they come from reliable sources and years of experience.

Military Problem Solving

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The population P P P of Arizona has been increasing at an annual rate of 3.5 % 3.5 \% 3.5% . In 1990 the population of Arizona was 3.7 3.7 3.7 million.

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Military Problem Solving Process

Click here to download the presentation.

what is the army problem solving process first step



To define the 7 steps of the Military Problem Solving Process

To describe some of the Road Blocks to problem solving

FM 22-100 Army Leadership

FM 101-5 Staff Organization and Operations (Chapter 5)

Problem Solving Steps

Practical Exercise

Road Blocks to Problem Solving


1. Recognize And Define The Problem

2. Gather Facts And Make Assumptions

3. Define End States And Establish Criteria

4. Develop Possible Solutions

5. Analyze And Compare Possible Solutions

6. Select And Implement Solution

7. Analyze Solution For Effectiveness



Facts – Statements about the problem known to be true or there is positive proof.

Assumptions – Statement used to replace necessary but missing or unknown facts.


End States identify goals and objectives

Selection- used to gather valid solution

Evaluation- used to compare solutions


Brain Storming

Mind Mapping


Use predetermined evaluation criteria

Go back to “Facts and Assumptions” or “Establish Criteria” if necessary


Make the decision

Acceptable, Feasible, and Suitable


May take time

If it works, pass it on!



Fear Of Failure

Tunnel Vision

Over Seriousness

Over Certainty

Binding Customs

Fear Of The Unknown

Command Pressure







The goal is to have high-quality, acceptable decisions made in combat and training situations. The Military Problem Solving Process helps leaders face complex problems in situations where information might be limited.


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The Seven Steps Of The Army Problem Solving Process

what is the army problem solving process first step

Show More The elements of thought, as described by Dr. Paul and Dr. Elder, include many of the same steps as the army problem solving process, with a few important and significant additions. The army problem solving process includes the following seven steps: Gathering information and knowledge, identifying the problem, developing the criteria, generating possible solutions, analyzing possible solutions, comparing possible solutions, and making and implementing the decision . When utilized in conjunction with the problem solving process, the elements of thought provide an expansion of the analysis of the problem and a wider breadth of the problem’s potential solutions. In addition, the elements of thought include the need to consider different points …show more content… This part of the process is important to understanding the true nature of the problem, and any potential contributing factors. While the army problem solving process does not specify a requirement to consider different points of view, Dr. Paul and Dr. Elder include this as part of the foundation for effective critical and creative thinking skills. Without this step, Dr. Paul and Dr. Elder believe that an individual’s thinking often becomes biased, lacks required information, and risks being prejudicial . When an officer ensures that they includes differences in point of view in the problem solving process it allows for an expansion of the potential solutions for the problem, and prevents partial decisions and poor quality solutions. It is important to note that each individual is made up of their own preconceived notions and views of the world, and these inherent differences may provide innovative solutions to problems that exist. If the officer does not include an attempt to understand the world from a different point of view in the army problem solving process, the thinking and problem solving potential shrinks to their own sphere of experiences and their ability to problem solve is at risk of becoming myopic and ineffective. An army officer …show more content… By effectively utilizing existing concepts and theories, which are included in the sixth element of thought, the officer is able to provide a common language and organization of the information surrounding the problem. This allows for a clear picture of the problem and any potential solutions. During this step, officers are also considering the implications and consequences of potential solutions to the problem, which is synonymous with the eighth element of thought, implications and consequences. This step also involves the analysis of assumptions and risks associated with each potential solution, which is considered the seventh element of thought The next three steps in the army problem solving process include generating possible solutions, analyzing possible solutions, and comparing possible solutions. During all three of these steps, the army officer is making inferences and assumptions based on the information they have gathered, which is included in the fifth element of thought. For each proposed solution, the officer should also consider the implications and consequences of the potential solutions, which is the last of the elements of

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What is the important first step in the Army problem solving model?

Seven Step Military Problem Solving Process The first step is to ID the problem , which means recognizing and identifying what needs fixing.

What are the 7 steps in the Army problem solving model?

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How does the seven-step military solving process work?

The Army Problem Solving Model (Process) (PSM) is a systematic approach to identifying the best possible solution to an issue or problem and a deliberate method of decision-making (FM

Step 1: Define the Problem .

What is the seven step process in military problem solving? Identify the problem , Gather information and knowledge, Develop criteria, Generate possible solutions, analyze possible solution, Compare possible solution, Make and implement the decision.

The MDMP consists of seven steps: receipt of mission, mission analysis, course of action (CO A) development, COA analysis, COA comparison, COA approval, and orders production .

The goal is to have high-quality, acceptable decisions made in combat and training situations . The Military Problem Solving Process helps leaders face complex problems in situations where information might be limited.

The first and most important step in finding an appropriate solution is to isolate the main problem .

Problem solvers develop two types of criteria: screening and evaluation criteria . Screening Criteria Army leaders use screening criteria to ensure solutions being considered can solve the problem.

Specify the problem – a first step to solving a problem is to identify it as specifically as possible .

A few months ago, I produced a video describing this the three stages of the problem-solving cycle: Understand, Strategize, and Implement. That is, we must first understand the problem , then we think of strategies that might help solve the problem, and finally we implement those strategies and see where they lead us.

The “Four-Step Problem Solving” plan helps elementary math students to employ sound reasoning and to develop mathematical language while they complete a four-step problem-solving process. This problem-solving plan consists of four steps: details, main idea, strategy, and how .

Step 2 : Identify the Facts and Assumptions.

The problem statement is a concise statement of the obstacles preventing an organization from achieving a desired end state . Drafting the problem statement is both science and art in order to achieve a concise statement that will support the rest of a problem solving process.

Stage 2 : Prepare For Counseling. 2-27. Successful counseling requires preparation in the following areas: Select a suitable place.

Army design methodology is an iterative process of understanding and problem framing that uses elements of operational art to conceive and construct an operational approach to solve identified problems . Commanders and their staffs use Army design methodology to assist them with the conceptual aspects of planning.

THE TROOP LEADING PROCEDURES Normally, the first three steps ( receive the mission, issue a warning order, and make a tentative plan ) occur in order. However, the sequence of subsequent steps is based on the situation and frequently overleap or are repeated. The last step, supervise and refine, occurs throughout.


STEP 1: RECEIVE THE MISSION This first step of the TLP begins upon receipt of the initial mission from the DISCOM or Brigade. This mission could be in the form of a Warning Order, Operations Order, or briefing of an expected change in operation.

Supervise is the most important troop leading step. During this step the leader ensures the order is carried out as intended.

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7-Step Military Problem Solving Process – A to Z Guide

7 step military problem solving process

The 7 steps to problem solving is a decision-making strategy initially developed for the military. This army problem solving process is an effective way of resolving problems, especially in fast-paced environments or time-bound circumstances.

Later, this army problem solving model was adopted by those working in the business and management industry, who also found the strategy practical and valuable.

This article will teach you how to apply the 7-step military problem solving process to your daily life.

Table of Contents

Step 2: Investigate, Gather Facts and Make Assumptions

Step 3: come up with alternative courses of action, step 4: lay down all your alternatives and perform an analysis, step 5: select the best alternative by comparing and contrasting, step 6: finalize your decision and execute, step 7: perform a results assessment, benefits of the 7-step military problem-solving process, is there any other military problem-solving process,  conclusion, a walk-through of the 7-step military problem solving process.

Decision-making in the military is vital because every small decision is crucial to the success of the mission, and in the bigger picture, national security.

Having established this significance, every recruit is taught this seven step decision making process because this knowledge is considered fundamental to becoming a ready member of the military.

S tep 1: Identify the Problem


The first step of this method involves pinpointing what needs to be resolved in the first place.

This is very important as the successful execution of this step will determine the quality of the solutions that will arise later in the process.

The worst thing that could happen is that you have gone through the whole process just to come up with a solution that doesn’t resolve the problem in the first place.

Once the problem statement is clear and specific, you can now proceed to the next step.


This step involves further data gathering. You will be assessing the situation further, weighing in external and internal factors surrounding the situation.

By identifying facts and assumptions, you are already beginning to hypothesize possible causes of the problem. Different angles as to what could’ve brought the problem about will help have an all-encompassing assessment of the issue at hand.


This step requires the construction of numerous solutions to the problem you investigated in the 2 previous steps.

Remember how you devised hypotheses about what caused the problem in step 2? Use these as the jump-off point of your proposed courses of action.

This step will require a lot of analysis and logical thinking to come up with all the best alternatives.


Continuing from the alternative courses of action that you came up with in step 3, it’s now time to weigh them in order to start identifying which solution is the best for the situation.

There are army problem solving evaluation criteria that aid in this analysis process. They are as follows:

After having analyzed your options and looking into their strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to compare them in order to eliminate the non-ideal alternatives. This is linked to the previous step and may be considered partners in the general goal of selecting the best course of action.

In this step, ask yourself questions such as: which course of action promises the best turnout?


The previous steps in problem solving process all led to this crucial portion – the final decision and the execution. Of course, all the data gathering and analysis will be wasted if the course of action is poorly executed.

Crafting the action plan is part of this step. An ideal action plan includes numerous backup plans for when the situation isn’t ideal for the execution of the original plan.

An effective line of communication is also important when the execution requires a team of people, so make sure to improve the coordination value within your team.


This last step is important in improving future decision-making situations. During this step, you must discuss what went wrong, what went right, and points of improvement.

Expectedly bad decisions could’ve been made, or good decisions turned out to have unexpected and unintended consequences. To make the value of these events, perform a results assessment to generate a learning experience for you and your team.

Applying the aforementioned strategy to your daily life, whether you’re in the military or not, has proved to be an organized way of dealing with a problem. Because the 7-step process provides an organized framework for problem-solving, it helps reduce overwhelming feelings for the decision-maker.

Also, since the process is broken down into clear steps, the risk of committing mistakes, overlooking important factors, and missing to identify good alternatives is reduced.

Aside from the 7-step problem-solving technique, the military also has the military decision-making process, MDMP, and course of action, or COA method. The 7-step method, however, is the most well-known and widely practiced one.

The MDMP is almost similar in essence with the 7-step method. In fact, it also involves the following:

The COA covers similar steps as steps 2, 3, 4, and 5, of the MDMP. The main difference between MDMP and COA with the 7-step method is the great emphasis on the hierarchical line of command and the requirement of approvals before execution for MDMP and COA; the 7 steps technique is not very explicit in this aspect.

This knowledge on the 7 step military problem solving process, hopefully is useful to you for matters at work, and even for the decisions you make on a daily. Make sure that, even with the use of decision-making techniques like this, mistakes and errors can still arise along the way.

There are things beyond anticipation and control, after all. However, never waste this opportunity to learn and improve.

Feel free to return to this article for help, especially when you find yourself in a situation that requires quick decision-making.


John Cotton is Safecallnow’s copywriter. He is an authority on research and reviews. He is responsible for locating information and guidance on riot and disturbance control equipment, training equipment, correctional products, watch house products, tactical equipment, government regulation information, and more. His work guarantees a high level of proficiency and authority.

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  1. All About the 7-Step Military Problem Solving Process

    The first step is to ID the problem, which means recognizing and identifying what needs fixing. Needless to say, you cannot attempt to seek a

  2. What Is the 7-Step Military Solving Process? A Step-By-Step Guide

    Discover the problem ... Identifying the initial problem is the first step to resolving the situation. Many members using this method ask five

  3. Military Problem Solving Flashcards

    1) Gather information and knowledge · 2) Identify the problem · 3) develop criteria · 4) Generate possible solutions · 5) Analyze possible solutions · 6) Compare

  4. Military Problem Solving Process

    Military Problem Solving Process · 1. Recognize And Define The Problem · 2. Gather Facts And Make Assumptions · 3. Define End States And Establish Criteria · 4.

  5. 7-Step Military Solving Process

    1. Discover the problem. Identifying the problem is the first step in solving a situation. · 2. List the facts and assumptions · 3. Create

  6. The Seven Steps Of The Army Problem Solving Process

    The army problem solving process includes the following seven steps: Gathering information and knowledge, identifying the problem, developing the criteria

  7. What is the important first step in the Army problem solving model?

    What are the 7 steps in the Army problem solving model? · Discover the problem. · List the facts and assumptions. … · Create alternatives. … · Analyze the


    ARMY PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS. Compare possible solutions: Leaders compare each solution against the others to determine the optimum one. Solution comparison

  9. 7-Step Military Problem Solving Process

    7-Step Military Problem Solving Process – A to Z Guide · Step 1: Identify the Problem · Step 2: Investigate, Gather Facts and Make Assumptions

  10. What are the seven steps of the military problem-solving process?

    From FM 5-0 Army Planning and Orders Production · Identify the problem · Gather Information · Develop Criteria · Generate possible solutions · Analyze possible