This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2017-08-20 at 00:18 and has been accessed 42262 times at 120 hits per month.

Outline of Problem Analysis

I. Can You Define The Problem?

  1. Is it a question you must answer?
  2. Is it an obstacle you must overcome?
  3. Is it a person you must persuade?
  4. Is it a decision you must make?
  5. Is it an opponent you must defeat?
  6. Is it a goal you must achieve?
  7. Is it a goal you must set?
  8. Is it a problem you must define?
  9. Has the problem been defined for you?

Action: State the problem as factually as possible!


II. Is The Problem Divisible?

  1. Is the problem really several problems?
  2. Can you divide the problem by defining the terms?
  3. Are there any implicit terms to define?
  4. Can abstract terms be restated in concrete terms?
  5. Can the problem be solved in steps?
  6. Are half-way solutions possible?
  7. Can the problem be substantially solved?
  8. Is a partial solution better than none?

Action: State the parts of the problem that can be solved separately!

III. Is the Problem Broader Than Stated?

  1. Is the problem part of a larger one?
  2. Is it geographically broader?
  3. Is it an effect of a larger problem?
  4. Is it only a sign or symptom?
  5. Can concrete terms be restated in abstract terms?
  6. Is a general solution possible?
  7. Is a political solution possible?
  8. Is a group solution possible?

Action: State the problem in the broadest terms!

IV. Is It Your Problem?

  1. Was the problem presented to you?
  2. Do you accept the challenge?
  3. Should you volunteer to solve the problem?

Action: State your responsibility for solving the problem!

V. Is It Anyone Else's Problem?

  1. Has it been presented to others?
  2. Can you delegate the problem?
  3. Can you delegate part of it?
  4. Is it partly someone else's problem?
  5. Who else is affected by the problem?
  6. Who might be affected by the solution?
  7. Should you seek the aid of others?
  8. Should you call an expert?
  9. Should you call a conference?
  10. Is it a confidential problem?

Action: State the names and interests of others involved!

VI. Has The Problem Been Solved Before?

  1. Is the problem similar to past problems?
  2. What are the similarities?
  3. What are the dissimilarities?
  4. Can you research similar past problems?
  5. Have similar past problems been solved?

Action: State the solution of similar past problems!

VII. Is The Problem A Real Problem?

  1. Is the problem a test or trap?
  2. Are you a "guinea pig" or "stalking-horse"?
  3. Are you "window dressing" or a "rubber stamp"?
  4. Are you expected to "kill" or "table" it?
  5. Is performance more important than result?
  6. What do others gain or lose if you fail?
  7. Have you been placed on horns of a dilemma?
  8. Are you being set up for a later problem?
  9. What do you gain or lose if you fail?
  10. Is an apparent solution sufficient for you?

Action: State what your problem really is!

VIII. How Will Time Affect The Problem?

  1. Will the problem grow worse in time?
  2. Will the problem disappear in time?
  3. Is there a deadline for the solution?
  4. Can the deadline be postponed?
  5. Can part of the solution be postponed?
  6. Must preliminary steps be taken?
  7. Must the problem be watched for change?

Action: State how time affects the problem!

IX. Is Additional Information Necessary?

  1. What facts are vital to a solution?
  2. Can you verify the vital facts?
  3. Which facts are really only assumptions?
  4. Can you test your assumptions?
  5. Are the sources of information reliable?
  6. Were they always reliable in the past?

Action: State what additional information is necessary and its probable source!

X. Is The Problem A Contest Or Game?

  1. Do you have opponents?
  2. What are your opponents' goals?
  3. Can your opponents change the problem?
  4. Can your opponents control your moves?
  5. Can you change the problem?
  6. Can you control your opponents' moves?
  7. What are your opponents' tangible resources?
  8. What are their intangible resources?
  9. What are your resources?
  10. Can your opponents obtain outside assistance?
  11. Can you obtain outside assistance?
  12. Is chance or luck an element in winning?
  13. How would you solve your opponents' problem?

Action: State the probable moves and countermoves of each side!

XI. Can You Restate The Problem?

  1. Is the problem the same as originally stated?
  2. Do you really want to solve the problem?
  3. Is anyone helping you solve it?
  4. What have you learned from past problems?
  5. How does the problem affect you in particular?
  6. Is the problem broader or narrower that originally stated?
  7. Does the include an element of time?
  8. Are you seeking additional information?
  9. Does the problem include anticipating opposition?

Action: State the problem in terms of specific objectives, persons, times, places, and acts!


XII. What Is Your Proposed Solution?

  1. What must be done?
  2. Who must do it?
  3. When must it be done?
  4. Are alternative or partial solutions possible?
  5. What can be done if all solutions fail?
  6. Does the solution require feed-back and progress reports?

Action: State a blueprint and timetable for your solution!


XIII. Is The Proposed Solution Feasible?

  1. Will the solution create worse problems?
  2. Will the solution "paint you into a corner"?
  3. Will the solution "open Pandora's box"?
  4. Is the solution beyond your financial, moral, or intellectual means?
  5. Is the solution morally and legally acceptable?
  6. What sacrifice does the solution require?

Action: State all of the moral, legal, and practical objections to your solution!


Source: Ted Daly (1926-1983)