Elements of a Quality Problem Statement

10482149263?profile=RESIZE_400xManaging 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:

  1. Automatic Processing—occurs when humans have no control over the processing and are unaware that it is taking place.
  2. 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:

  1. Importance
  2. Problem-Solution Gap
  3. Quantification
  4. Neutrality
  5. Scope


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.

Problem-Solution Gap

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.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market. They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions. I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power. For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients. In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over! The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Global Risk Community to add comments!

Join Global Risk Community

    About Us

    The GlobalRisk Community is a thriving community of risk managers and associated service providers. Our purpose is to foster business, networking and educational explorations among members. Our goal is to be the worlds premier Risk forum and contribute to better understanding of the complex world of risk.

    Business Partners

    For companies wanting to create a greater visibility for their products and services among their prospects in the Risk market: Send your business partnership request by filling in the form here!