What’s the Big Problem?

Take time to really understand the issues

October 24, 2012

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”  – Groucho Marx

As we move closer to this year’s U.S. Presidential election, we are hearing about a lot of issues, both local and international, from the main protagonists – Obama, Romney, as well as countless politicians and pundits.  They are all adept at pointing out problems.  Real solutions are more difficult, as we all know.

A problem is really just a gap between an actual situation and a desired situation.  Closing the gap solves the problem.

There are lots of simple, but effective ways to clarify what the “big problem” actually is, so that you have a better chance of finding a real solution.

Brainstorming possible causes can help you to see the problem from different angles.  Looking at contributing factors can help you probe beneath the surface.  Success/barrier analysis can help you define the desired situation and identify what is getting in the way.

These are just some of the ways to examine alternative perspectives about possible causes.  These strategies, among others, will help you to remove blinders due to assumptions about the problem or its causes.  They will also help reveal unexpected “grains of truth” about the problem.

Whatever your approach, make sure you really understand the “big problem” before jumping to solutions.  It’s human nature to offer solutions, less so to take the time to diagnose the cause of a problem correctly. A little time invested will help you avoid a misdiagnosis that can lead to the wrong remedy.


by Denise Gifford

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