1. Write down an initial statement of the problem.
2. Underline the key words.
3. Examine each key word for hidden assumptions. Try at this stage to replace these key words with synonyms to see how the meaning of the statement changes.
4. Once you have explored how your choice of key words affects the meaning of the statement, review your problem definition to see if you can redefine the problem in a better way.
5. The aim is not really to change the position of the limits but more aptly to understand clearly how our wording in a situation will affect the assumptions we will make about the boundary.
“We need to understand the concepts of problem solving strategies for our employees in R&D.”
1. Do we “need” ? What about wanting to? What happens if we don’t?
2. Do we need to know about “Strategies”, perhaps methodologies would be better? Techniques?
3. R&D? Perhaps, using an elegant system, we can train all employees in from all functional departments.
Adapted from de Bono (1982) Lateral Thinking for Management, Penguin books.
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