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Defining the Problem: The Principles

Until the definition of a problem explains and encompasses all observable facts, the definition is incomplete or wrong.

How do effective decision makers determine what the right problem is? Effective decision makers ask:

  • What is this all about?
  • What is pertinent here?
  • What is key to this situation?

Questions such as these are not new, yet they are of critical importance in defining the problem. The problem must be considered from all angles to ensure that the right problem is being tackled. The one way to make sure that the problem is correctly defined is to check it against the observable facts. Until problem definition explains and encompasses all observable facts, the definition is either still incomplete or, more likely, the wrong definition. But once the problem has been correctly defined, the decision itself is usually pretty easy.

ACTION POINT: Describe an occasion where you or someone else in your organization implemented the right answer to the wrong problem. What could you have done differently to ensure that the right problem was being tackled?

The Effective Executive
The Elements of Decision Making (Corpedia Online Program)

* Source: The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker

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