Managing any organization may be characterized as a perpetual stream of problems that must be controlled and resolved. However, individuals frequently choose to rapidly implement solutions without first taking the time and making the effort to fully comprehend and assess the nature of the situation at hand.
Thus, organizations invest a great deal of time, effort, and money without knowing precisely how the exercise will benefit them.
The demand to precisely identify the organization's most important problem requiring a remedy, is a genuine one. A company that can effectively execute change on a regular basis will be an industry leader, if it is able to precisely describe the issue.
Decades of research indicate that the human mind has at least 2 distinct methods for attempted Problem Solving. Both the person's current position and the surrounding environment will determine which strategy will prevail. These 2 methods of Problem Solving are:
- Automatic Processing—occurs when humans have no control over the processing and are unaware that it is taking place.
- Conscious Processing—represents the portion or function of the brain that a person has control over.
These 2 methods tackle issues differently and at different pace. A growing body of studies indicates that it is advantageous to distinguish between the 2 modes of thought.
Structured Problem Solving is associated with the 2nd process, namely Conscious Processing. Structured Problem Solving entails constructing a logical argument that links observed facts to underlying causes and, eventually, a solution.
The formation of an effective chain of clarity begins with a coherent statement of the issue. A quality Problem Statement should have the following five elements:
- Problem-Solution Gap
Developing a Problem Statement increases the likelihood of maximizing the benefits of Conscious Processing and may also set the stage for inducing and subsequently evaluating an "Aha!" moment.
Let's examine these components in further depth.
Importance refers to the Problem Statement's capacity to identify a characteristic that is crucial to an organization and connect that feature to a well-defined and unique objective. This is only achievable if there is a direct link between the Problem Statement and the organization's larger mission and objectives. The temptation of focusing on unimportant topics from the beginning should be avoided, and attention should concentrate on the essentials.
A solid Problem Statement should include a cogent explanation of the Gap between the current circumstance and the desired outcome. When people have clear and easily comprehensible objectives in front of them, they are more focused and exert greater effort. A proper Problem Statement facilitates this concentration by defining the Gap that must be filled.
Effective Problem Statements should quantify key factors, such as the objective, the current circumstance, and the gap. Quantification of a characteristic just indicates that it has a clear direction, i.e., that more of it is either beneficial or detrimental.
A good Problem Statement should retain Neutrality with respect to probable diagnoses or remedies. During problem formulation, as few assumptions about the origin of an issue should be made as is practically practicable.
A Problem Statement's Scope should be succinct enough to be addressed quickly.
Interested in learning more about the 5 Elements of a Problem Statement? You can download an editable PowerPoint on 5 Elements of a Problem Statement here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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