Problem Statement Activities


Creating a problem statement and asking '5 whys' allows us to get to the root cause of a given problem or issue. The root cause is the problem that starts all the other problems. If you never get deep enough into a problem, you will continue to keep having that same initial problem come up without actually solving the root cause. Building out your problem statement, 5 whys, and then abstracting them further allows you to fully examine the root cause in an unbiased way, providing insight into possible solutions for a recurring issue.

Begin to use this template by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Create and answer five iterative questions that build on one another to get to the root cause of a problem. 

  • Step 2: Create a problem statement using the root of the 5 whys.

  • Step 3: Use an abstraction laddering technique to examine the issue further. Move up and down in abstraction using your problem statement. Move up the ladder by asking "Why?", and move down by asking "How?”

Using the creating a problem statement template can be an eye-opening exercise for many. When you look thoroughly at your current thought patterns and work to disrupt them, you can build new, innovative solutions for previously exhausted issues. Simply asking "why?" on one train of thought now can suddenly become an interesting evolution in a much more empathetic and expressive way. Through this line of questioning, you can work to figure out what's really the root cause. Remember, don't settle for the surface problem - try to solve the right problem instead!

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maad labs
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maad labs is a do tank, not a think tank, that performs digital experiments, provides executive training, builds our own (largely AI/ML/Data) products, and consults with both venture-backed and large, multi-national companies bringing bold, audacious, and complex ideas, experiences, and technologies to market. We help organizations get future-proofed by leveraging impending technological disruptions.
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