People who can define problems, consider options, make decisions, and implement a plan have all the basic skills needed to effectively solve problems. In search of a solution, the Oil Spill Recovery Institute framed the problem as a “viscosity of materials” rather than a “purification of oil,” using language that was not specific to the oil industry. The aim was to attract new proposals in many areas. As with everything, a process can help you ease your thinking and guide you towards solutions. For example, in an example business we`re going to build in this topic, we`ve identified the basic problem: the process of defining the problem helps visualize the problem by presenting it from different angles and helps define the broader context and the problems associated with it. In our early years, we focused on very specific technical issues, but since then we have expanded, from basic research and product development to product development, astronaut health and safety, to banking in developing countries. We now know that the rigour with which a problem is defined is the most important factor in finding an appropriate solution. But we have seen that most organizations are unable to articulate their problems clearly and concisely. Many have great difficulty recognizing the problems that are essential to their missions and strategies. One thing to keep in mind when writing the problem definition is to keep it as short and clear as possible. The statement of the problem should not be longer than necessary and should be understood by everyone who reads it.

Use clear and direct language and don`t get stuck in small details. Only the heart of the problem needs to be addressed. 8-Step Problem-Solving Process Learn a simple 8-step problem-solving process. They may even try to solve the wrong problems – they miss opportunities and waste resources in the process. The key is to ask the right questions. In other words, will meeting the need serve the strategic objectives of the organization? It is not uncommon for an organization to work on issues that no longer align with its strategy or mission. In this case, the efforts (and perhaps the whole initiative) should be reconsidered. In addition, creative solution ideas can be developed, even if the solutions are not part of the problem definition process. However, it is essential to define the problem before moving on to root cause analysis, creating an Ishikawa diagram, or performing a cause-and-effect analysis.

Albert Einstein said. “If I had an hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and solving it for a minute.” To solve problems with potential products or services, you must first understand and clearly define what the minimum achievable problem is. We want to solve a whole problem, not half of one, so we really need to be clear about the problem we`re actually trying to solve. As the tree continues to grow, it grows and strengthens the branches (partial problems and their solutions – the products and services that solve the small related problems identified by the company. The example is like many others we`ve seen: someone in the bowels of the organization is assigned to solve a very specific, short-term problem. However, because the company does not employ a rigorous process to understand the dimensions of the problem, leaders are missing an opportunity to address the underlying strategic issues. The situation is exacerbated by what Stefan Thomke and Donald Reinertsen identified as the error “The sooner the project is started, the sooner it will be completed”. (See “Six Product Development Myths,” HBR, May 2012.) Organization teams are rushing to a solution, fearing that their bosses will punish them for taking them so long to get to the starting line if they spend too much time defining the problem.

Since different parties are most likely to deal with the problem, it is important that everyone interprets the problem in the same way. Therefore, adjust the tone, style and diction accordingly. Ask yourself: Who am I writing this for? Do these people know the same terms and concepts as I do? Do these people have the same attitude as me? The purpose of this step is to formulate the problem as simply as possible: “We are looking for X to reach Z, measured by W.” Such a statement, similar to an elevator pitch, is a call to arms that illustrates the importance of the problem and helps to obtain resources to remedy it. This first framing answers three questions: there are many companies that develop amazing innovations and products or services, but then do not implement them in the market (they are not supported by the people concerned; Investors, companies, customers), which often leads companies to not sufficiently define the problem or to work completely on the wrong problem. To make sure you refine your problem, this model relies on you asking the right questions to make sure you`re working with the right problem in the end! Here are some tips to improve problem definition: Once you`ve done that, think about the process by filling out your journal questions. The following sections explain the main troubleshooting steps. These steps support stakeholder engagement, the use of evidence-based information, comparing expectations with reality, and focusing on the root causes of a problem. You should start with: At this point, it`s important to initiate a general conversation within the organization about what resources a solution might need.

This may seem premature – after all, you`re still defining the problem, and the scope of possible solutions could be very broad – but it`s actually not too early to consider what resources your organization is willing and able to evaluate the solutions and then implement the best one. From the beginning, you may feel that implementing a solution will be much more expensive than other members of the organization think. In this case, it is important to communicate a rough estimate of the money and people needed and to ensure that the organization is ready to continue on this path. The outcome of such a debate could be that some constraints on the purchase of resources must be built into the problem statement. From the outset of its drinking water project, EWV set an upper limit on what it would spend on initial research and testing of possible solutions. The right questions (qualitative progress) Every problem solution starts with a description of the problem. Get the most out of problem solving by asking effective questions. That was the problem that needed to be solved. EWV found that existing rainwater storage solutions, such as concrete tanks, were too expensive for low-income families in developing countries, so households shared storage tanks. But because no one has taken possession of the common facilities, they have often fallen into disrepair. Therefore, Naugle and his team focused on the concept of a low-cost rainwater storage system for households.

That is a problem. After all, the plane needs to take off as quickly as possible. The check-in protocol must therefore be optimised and the situation made comprehensible to all passengers. In the case of the airline, it could be as follows: The company`s current check-in protocol is inefficient to use. By wasting hours of work, the current protocol makes the company less competitive and a slower registration process creates an unfavorable brand image. Once you`ve done that, the goal is to put everything together into one problem statement. A lasting problem, to which we are willing to devote our time and resources, will be one that we are passionate about, one that frustrates us so much that we feel the need to solve it. Answering this question requires a company to explicitly state how it will evaluate the solutions received. Clarity and transparency are essential to finding viable solutions and ensuring that the assessment process is fair and rigorous.