Defining a Problem


In this lesson, you will discover how to differentiate between real problems and perceived problems (those most immediately apparent), as well as understand the most common reasons for missing actual problems. When you locate and clearly define the issue you must resolve, you can then begin to work on a solution.

No matter what issue you face, the only way to come up with an effective solution is to identify the actual problem that needs to be solved before you do anything else. If you don't, you could end up spending your time treating the symptom or consequence of your problem while the real problem remains waiting to be dealt with.

Did you ever spend time finding a solution to something, only to discover that the real problem was still there, as big as ever, waiting for your attention? Perhaps you worked for a few hours pulling up weeds in your garden, only to discover a few days later that the very same type of weed was back in that place. What you failed to notice was that the birdfeeder full of sunflower seeds spilled into the garden every time a bird landed on it. Unless you move the birdfeeder, or change the type of birdseed you buy, you will continue to have a problem with sprouted sunflower seeds in your garden. In other words, the real problem is the location of the birdfeeder coupled with the type of birdseed you fill it with. The weeds are merely a symptom of the problem.

The scenario above represents a common error in problem solving. Many people mistake the more obvious consequences of a problem for the actual problem. This might happen for a number of reasons.

You could be busy so whatever irritates you the most gets the greatest amount of attention without much thought about whether it is the real problem. Or, you may make assumptions about the nature of your problem and act on them rather than determining first if they are valid.

There are two common results that occur when you "solve" something that is not your actual problem.

1. Your solution will be unsatisfactory. (It fails to deal with the real problem.)

2. Further decisions will have to be made to solve the real problem.

Friendly Persuasion

Friendly Persuasion

To do this successfully you need to build a clear path of action by using tools if necessary. These tools would be facts, evidence and stories which you know they can relate to. Plus you always want to have their best interests at heart, in other words, you know what is good for them

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