Defining a problem statement is probably the one most important step in any problem solving process. Many people neglect this thinking that they know what the problem is, however, in most of these cases they end up trying to solve the wrong problem. For this reason we created a process to help with defining the problem statement.
Problem statement screen
As shown in the screenshot below, the problem statement screen consist of two main sections: Problem Statement and Success Criteria. Success criteria is often not less important than problem statement itself, as it gives the innovator an opportunity to define exactly what they want to achieve by solving the problem they defined. Having success criteria helps keeping people involved on track throughout the entire project, and results in less deviations.
Building problem statement
The process of building a problem statement is built out of 3 steps. You should do them in order, and that is why every next step is blocked until the previous is defined.
1. Current situation
The current situation is the basic information about what we see. This is the symptom of a problem, or, how we like to call it, the failure.
Some examples of that may be: flat tire, leaking pipe, or high production cost.
Important note: This is what usually people see as the problem. The problem, however, is what this failure causing.
When you fill in the details, there is no need to manually save the content, everything will be saved automatically.
2. Disadvantages of current situation
Once you defined the failure, you can move to the next step to define the disadvantages of that. Here, the innovator needs to come up with reasons why the current situation is bad. What this failure that you observe causes. It can be one or many things, and it is useful to write down all of them.
An example for High cost of production may be:
- The customers are not happy
- Sales are down
- The shareholders pulling back
- many many more…
Same here, once you fill in the disadvantages, you can more to the next step. And don’t worry about being precise, you can always change it in a future once you think about anything else.
3. Problem to solve
This is the actual problem statement. Using the the information you filled in above, now you can pretty easily define the problem statement.
In the philosophy of problem solving, it is only possible to solve one and only one problem at a time. We encourage the same here in PRIZ Innovation Platform. The field of problem to solve should state only one problem based on the previously defined disadvantages.
An example could be:
- Because of the high cost of production, the shareholders are pulling back on funds.
- Because of the high cost of production, the unit price is high which results in low sales.
- and so on…
As in any other project we work on, innovation project also needs to have a target. Success criteria in the ultimate target of the project.
How you define the success criteria is totally up to you and your team. The problem statement you defined earlier should help you with success criteria (that is why we kept it on the same page).
Now, once you have the success criteria as your target, you are ready to start working on solving the problem and innovate.
Contact us for any questions and or concerns.