Defining the Problem and Finding the Root Cause - Part 1

Here are 2 more tools to help your business actually solve some of the challenges & move beyond “Just fix it”.

We’ve already highlighted the importance of following a problem solving process when “Just fix it” isn’t working. & I’ve given you a flowchart tool to “understand the problem”.

Here is 1 more tool to “understand the problem”. If you don’t fully understand the problem, there is no need for you to move through the rest of the problem solving process.

The 1st tool, problem statement, is necessary to clearly define the problem & provide focus.

Here’s how you define the problem statement:

1. Write down the problem as simply as you can.

2. Answer these questions about the problem:

  • When are you seeing this problem?
  • How big is the problem?
  •  Who does it affect
  • What happens?
  •  Where does it occur?

3. Then rewrite your statement using your answers to these questions; Make sure this doesn’t suggest a cause or solution.

Here’s an example:

Poor Problem Statement: Human resources is taking too long to fill open positions.

Better Problem Statement: Recruiting time for software engineers is missing the goal of 70 days 91% of the time…

You can see that we have metrics now, you know which positions are taking the time, you even know what this problem is costing.

Now you know what problem to focus on.

A well-written problem statement tells you what to solve & keeps you on track.