Summary Notes


  1. Problem Definition Techniques
  2. Which Technique to Choose?
  3. Deciding if the Problem Should be Solved


Problem Definition Techniques top

In Chapter 1, we described situations in which millions of dollars were wasted when individuals defined the perceived problem instead of the real problem. In this chapter, we address the first part of the problem-solving heuristic-problem definition. We present four techniques that will greatly enhance your chances of defining the real problem.

Duncker Diagrams top

The Duncker diagram helps us obtain solutions that satisfy the present state/ desired state statements. (Note: present state/desired state statements can be found in the Professional Reference Shelf

The unique feature of the Duncker diagram is that it contains two major pathways (general solutions) to go from the present state (the problem statement) to the desired state (an acceptable problem solution).

  1. General solutions on the left side of the diagram show us how to move from the present state to achieve the desired state.
  2. General solutions on the right side of the diagram show us how to make it okay not to achieve the desired state. (This idea may seem a bit contradictory - but it will be clear in a moment.)

There are two steps involved in each pathway. For each possible pathway, we determine first functional solutions and then specific solutions.

Functional solutions tell us what we could do to move from the present state to either achieve or not achieve the desired state. After we generate a number of functional solutions, we then generate a number of specific solutions for each functional solution. Specific solutions tell us how to implement the functional solutions.

Statement-Restatement Techniques top

K.T. Problem Analysis top

Due to electronic copyright restrictions, the reader is referred to the text material for which copyright permission has been granted.

Which Technique to Choose? top

We do not expect you to apply every problem definition technique to every situation. In fact, when 400 problem solvers were surveyed as to which two techniques presented in this chapter were the most useful to them, their choices were virtually equally divided among those presented in this chapter. In other words, different techniques work better for different individuals and different situations, and your selection of a problem definition technique is a matter of personal choice. The main point is to be organized as well as creative in your approach to problem definition.

Deciding if the Problem Should be Solved top