Make Sure You’re Solving the Right Problem

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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.

Adapted from “Are You Solving the Right Problem?” by Dwayne Spradlin.

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