Handout: Problem Solving Questions

Handout: Problem Solving Questions

The following is a series of questions presented under a number of categories that help to analyse a given problem. The set of questions can be used in a handout for people who want to explore a given problem. The questions help delegates to consider different aspects of the problem and create a structured approach in asking the right questions.

You can also use this handout in problem solving exercises or as an extra training resource that can be made available to delegates while going through another exercise when addressing problems.

Instructions: For each question, consider the contrasting opposites and see where your problem lies. Then add more details as necessary to define the problem further in relation with the opposites mentioned in the question.


Definition of the Problem

How would you define the problem?



Commission vs. Omission

Are you doing something wrong, or are you failing to do something?



Major Issue vs. Irritation

Is the problem actively causing issues or is it just a source of irritation?



Attitudes vs. Environment

Is the problem as a result of attitudes or as a result of the environment?



Visible vs. Hidden

Is the problem clearly identifiable or is it hidden through relationships or work processes?



Scope of the Problem

Widespread vs. Local

Is the problem widespread (global) or it is applicable only to a local area (limited)?



Related vs. Isolated

Is the problem isolated or is it related to other problems?



Source vs. Result

Is this problem a source, leading to a series of other problems, or is this caused because of other problems or lack of addressing them?



Seriousness of the Problem

Fundamental vs. Superficial

Is this a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed or is it a nice-to-have?



Leading Problem vs. Focused Problem

If you don’t address this problem would it lead to more serious problems which if unchecked would lead to even more problems?



Extent of the Problem

Single Person vs. People

How many people are affected by this problem?



Shortage vs. Surplus

Is this problem because of having too much of something or too little?



Simple vs. Complex

Does this problem involve a complex set of relationships or is it simple?



Timing of the Problem

Present vs. impending

Has the issue already become a problem or is this an impending problem?




New vs. Long-standing

Is this problem new or is it an on-going problem that has been identified for a while?




Cyclical vs. Sudden

Does this problem happen regularly with various strengths or this a sudden new problem?  



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