It may be obvious that you can’t solve a problem that’s not well defined, but many people neglect this detail. Next time you think you’re ready to go into problem-solving mode, consider the following:
- Establish the basic need for a solution. Why does the problem need solving?
- Justify the need. Make sure it’s worth your time. Is the effort aligned with your company’s strategy? What do you, your team, or the company stand to gain from a solution?
- Give it context. What approaches have you already tried? What have others done? Are there constraints on the solution?
- Write the problem statement. Take your answers to the questions above and lay out the problem. Indicate the scope, the requirements of a solution, and who will be involved.