Writing a Problem Statement
When writing a problem statement, it is important to clearly identify and state the organizational problem that needs to be resolved. To articulate this information clearly, the following pieces can be used as building blocks for the statement.
Original problem or focus question
Restate the initial problem that launched the inquiry process, or rewrite the focus question or one of the clarifying questions as a statement.
Stakeholders who are most affected by the problem
Identify who is most directly impacted by this problem. Alternately, who would benefit the most if this problem were resolved?
Type of problem
For example, is the problem based upon skills, attitudes, knowledge, resources, competition, defects, or something else?
Suspected cause(s) of the problem
Based on the data analysis or the root cause analysis, what does the team think is the most significant cause or causes contributing to this problem? What, if addressed, would make the greatest impact on resolving the problem? Include specific evidence.
Goal for improvement and long-term impact
Describe the target for impact. The goal should be measurable.
Impact to stakeholders
Describe possible impacts to stakeholders if the problem is not addressed.
Proposal for addressing the problem
The proposal is a high-level strategy that represents promising practices drawn from research, local knowledge, and local expertise. Note sources, if possible, when presenting this information. This proposal will become the basis for subsequent action planning.
Final problem statement
Tie the above statements into three to five coherent sentences that could be easily understood by a wide range of stakeholders.
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