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A problem defined is half-solved

Defining a problem before trying to solve it is really important if you want to actually solve it and if you want to be efficient. In this two-minute video, Craig explains.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. I’m about to start a meeting but I wanted to share with you this notion that a problem well-defined is half-solved. Mostly, making group decisions is about solving problems. But so often groups set off to solve a problem with the problem ill defined. And then the solution that you end up with is not well-matched to the problem, it doesn’t work as intended, it unravels later, and the group has to go back and redefine the problem and come up with a new solution.

I think that actually defining the problem is half the work for two reasons. One, actually defining the problem requires us to understand the problem. It makes us apply some discipline to the problem; ask some tough questions. I am a big advocate of actually writing a problem statement. Push yourself to writing down: “The problem is that _________.”

Secondly, when you’ve got a problem statement or the thing well defined, you can keep your group on track when you’re working on solutions. You can’t keep a group on track if you don’t have a track. The problem statement or the problem definition serves as that track.

I have seen hundreds, thousands of groups develop great solutions to the wrong problem. Get your problem right from the start and you have a much better chance of getting your solution right in the end.

Thanks for listening, here’s hoping that you help your group make good group decisions.

2 thoughts on “A problem defined is half-solved

  1. Thanks for writing ELR. I had no idea that someone else said something like this. Indeed, I just looked up that Charles Kettering said, “A problem-well-stated is a problem half-solved.” Thanks again for pointing this out.

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