May 24, 2022




Problem Solving: Find The Root Cause, The Minto Pyramid Principle, & More

At a glance

Welcome to the 500(!) new friends of the Mental Models, Concepts, and Frameworks newsletter who have joined us since last week!

This week: 5 of the best problem solving methods I've found

1) Find The Root Cause

A proximate cause is the most immediately observable cause of a problem.

The symptom.

The root cause is the underlying reason.

The disease.

When problem solving, find the root cause to ensure it doesn't happen again.

How? The 5 Whys Method

2) The Minto Pyramid Principle

A McKinsey developed framework for writing and presenting ideas.

"A tool to help you find out what you think."


1. Start with the problem first

2. Group and summarize your supporting arguments

3. Logically order your supporting ideas

3) Ishikawa Diagram

A diagram indicating the possible root causes of a problem.


1. Define the problem (Product failure)

2. Identify contributing factors (Blue ovals)

3. Find possible root causes related to each factor (Black text and arrows)

4. Analyse the diagram

4) Inversion

When problem solving, consider the opposite of what you want—the worst-case scenario or solution.

Now ask, "How do I avoid this happening?"

Inversion teaches you what to avoid on the path to success.

Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking excellence.

5) Issue Trees

Issue trees are a visual diagram that help you break down a larger problem or question into several smaller, more solvable questions.

They allow you to identify the root causes of a problem as well as to identify its potential solutions.

That's it! I hope you enjoyed reading :)

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