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Analyze Your Problem

Tools to help you analyze your problem.

Getting Started

Become familiar with general problem-solving principles and find answers to a few fundamental questions.

General Principles:  Overview of problem-solving principles.

Getting Started Checklist:  Checklist of fundamental questions designed to get you started.

Problem Statement

A well-crafted problem statement will help guide your analysis.

Problem Statement:  Define your problem in a clear and concise written statement.

Problem Redefinition:  Techniques for redefining your problem statement.


Separate your problem into its component parts.

Factors:  List all the factors related to your problem.

Sorting:  Sort your problem into its component parts.

Drill Down:  Break your problem down into progressively smaller parts.

Appreciation:  Extract the maximum amount of information from a single factor.

Forces:  Identify forces that cause change.

SWOT Analysis:  Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Outside-In Thinking:  Thinking outside-the-box to find new major categories.

Future State vs. Present Reality:  Compare your desired state to your current state.

Major Categories:  Identify the major categories of your problem.

Five Whys:  Discover the distilled essence of your problem.

Hierarchical Abstractions:  Perceive your problem from different levels of abstraction.

Emotional Thinking:  Identify and manage your emotional thinking.

Negative Thinking:  Recognize and manage your negative thoughts.

Fear of the Unknown:  Explore your fears associated with the unknowns of the problem.

Past-Present-Future:  Analyze your time perspective.

Chronology:  Organize your events and actions in chronological order.


Organize the parts of your problem into graphical representations.

Timeline:  Graphic depiction of events and actions on a timescale.

Cross Impact Matrix:  Determine how the relationships between variables impact future events.

Flow Chart:  Diagram a process.

Causal Flow Chart:  Visualize your cause and effect relationships.

Why - Decision Tree Diagram:  Diagram a decision tree of the causes.

Cause and Effect - Fishbone Diagram:  Diagram your cause and effect relationships.

Obstacles - Tree Diagram:  Create a tree diagram of your obstacles.

Mind Mapping:  Map the structure and linkages between your related factors.

Thought Provoking Questions

Determine your key questions.

Key Questions:  Create a list of your key questions.

Who:  Preliminary list of standard "Who" questions.

What:  Preliminary list of standard "What" questions.

When:  Preliminary list of standard "When" questions.

Where:  Preliminary list of standard "Where" questions.

Why:  Preliminary list of standard "Why" questions.

How:  Preliminary list of standard "How" questions.

From Where:  Preliminary list of standard "From Where" questions.

To Where:  Preliminary list of standard "To Where" questions.

Phoenix Checklist:  The original problem-solving checklist developed by the CIA.

Language Analysis

Examine and test your keywords.

One Word Problem:  Identify your keywords.

Keywords List:  Create a list of your keywords.

Relational Words:  Combine your keywords with relational words.

Paraphrase Keywords:  Paraphrase the keywords in your problem statement.


Surface, examine, and optimize your unquestioned mental models.

Intentions:  Create a list of your intentions.

Expectations:  Create a list of your expectations.

Assumptions:  Create a list of your assumptions.

Intuitions:  Create a list of your intuitions.

Opinions:  Create a list of your opinions.

Conclusions:  Create a list of your conclusions.

Judgments:  Create a list of your judgments.

Beliefs:  Create a list of your beliefs.

Hopes:  Create a list of your hopes.

Gut Feelings:  Create a list of your gut feelings.

Predispositions Analysis:  Optimize your thinking.


Navigation - Toolkit:  All the tools listed on one page.