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5 Ways To Restate Problems To Get Better Solutions

Morgan D. Jones states in his book The Thinker's Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving – 
“The aim of problem restatement is to broaden our perspective of a problem, helping us to identify the central issue and alternative solutions and increase the chance that the outcome our analysis produces will fully, not partially, resolve the problem.”
“Restate or redefine the problem in as many different ways we can think of. This allows us to shift our mental gears without evaluating them.”
Below are 5 different methods to help restate a problem found in Jones’ Thinker’s Toolkit.

Restate the problem using different words without losing the original meaning.
  • Initial statement: How can we limit congestion on the roads? 
  • Paraphrase: How can we keep road congestion from growing? 
Turn the problem on its head.
  • Initial statement: How can we get employees to come to the company picnic? 
  • 180-Degrees: How can we discourage employees from attending the picnic? 
Broaden the focus:
Restate the problem in a larger context.
  • Initial statement: Should I change jobs? 
  • Broaden focus: How can I achieve job security? 
Redirect the focus:
Boldly, consciously change the focus.
  • Initial statement: How can we boost sales? 
  • Redirect focus: How can we cut costs? 
Ask “Why”:
Ask “why” of the initial problem statement. Then formulate a new problem statement base on the answer. Then ask “why” again, and again. Repeat this process a number of times until the essence of the “real” problem emerges.
  • Initial statement: How can we market our in-house multimedia products? 
  • Why?: Because many of our internal customers are out sourcing their multimedia projects. 

(ht: IdeaSandbox)


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