Change activity or initiatives are sometimes needed to improve a particular challenge or address an opportunity.
In order to clarify the challenge, it can help to follow the process defined in the ‘Problem Statement’ steps below.
The problem statement is a useful too to help articulate the challenge / opportunity with stakeholders and to gain buy-in and support from others.
Having the problem statement clearly articulated can help in ensuring the solution will be fit for purpose in addressing the challenge/ opportunity.
Steps to developing a good problem statement
- Write a “Problem Description” – a short paragraph describing as many details of the problem as possible.
- Work out the What Should Be Happening vs. What’s Actually Happening. This will begin to narrow your Problem Description into a single sentence or phrase.
- Further develop the problem by adding “When,” “Where” and “What”.
- Write the first draft of the problem statement. Make it as short and to the point as possible.
- Circle any words that are vague or can have different meanings to different people. E.g. “a lot” or “too expensive”.
- Circle any phrases dealing with amounts or time frames and ensure that these are measurable.
- Ensure that you remove words such as because, need to, should, must, as they refer to the cause or the solution of the problem.
Hints & Tips
Put the time and energy up front in identifying an accurate problem and writing a clear, concise, and measurable problem statement.
Write the problem statement with the audience in mind. It should be concise and include the following:
- A brief description of the problem and the metric used to describe the problem.
- Where the problem is occurring, consider which process and/or physical location.
- The time frame over which the problem has been occurring.
- The size or magnitude of the problem.