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Whether you're solving a problem for a client (internal or external), supporting those who are solving problems, or discovering new problems to solve, the problems you face can be large or small, simple or complex, and easy or difficult.
The key to a good problem definition is ensuring that you deal with the real problem – not its symptoms.
For example, if performance in your department is substandard, you might think the problem is with the individuals submitting work.
Using our example of substandard work, Cause-and-Effect diagrams would highlight that a lack of training could contribute to the problem, and they could also highlight possible causes such as work overload and problems with technology.
When your problem occurs within a business process, creating a Flow Chart that's causing your problem.
However, if you look a bit deeper, the real issue might be a lack of training, or an unreasonable workload.
help you ask the right questions, and work through the layers of a problem to uncover what's really going on.
The Drill Down technique will help you split your problem into smaller parts, each of which can then be solved appropriately.
The four-step approach to solving problems that we mentioned at the beginning of this article will serve you well in many situations.
At this stage, it's also important to ensure that you look at the issue from a variety of perspectives.
If you commit yourself too early, you can end up with a problem statement that's really a solution instead.