Problem Solving Questions

Here are some Preliminary Problem Solving Questions, useful in clarifying the issue or problem you are looking to improve.

These questions are useful when trying to determine the nature of the problem. They say that any problem well described is nearly half solved. So try out these questions for exploring a situation and for gathering information. Remembering that information is key to making good decisions.

Adapted from; VanGundy. A.B. (1983) 108 Ways to get a bright idea. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall.


  • Who is affected by the problem?
  • Who else has it?
  • Who says it is a problem?
  • Who would like a solution?
  • Who would not like a solution?
  • Who could prevent a solution?
  • Who needs it solved more than you?


  • When does it occur?
  • When doesn’t it occur?
  • When did it appear?
  • When will it disappear?
  • When do other people see your problem as a problem?
  • When don’t other people see your problem as a problem?
  • When is the solution needed?
  • When might it occur again?
  • When will it get worse?
  • When will it get better?


  • Why is this situation a problem?
  • Why do you want to solve it?
  • Why don’t you want to solve it?
  • Why doesn’t it go away?
  • Why would someone else want to solve it?
  • Why wouldn’t someone else want to solve it?
  • Why is it easy to solve?
  • Why is it hard to solve?


  • What might change about it?
  • What are its main weaknesses?
  • What do you like about it?
  • What do you dislike about it?
  • What can be changed about it?
  • What can’t be changed?
  • What do you know about it?
  • What don’t you know about it?
  • What will it be like if it is solved?
  • What have you done in the past with similar problems?
  • What principles underlie it?
  • What values underlie it?
  • What problem elements are related to one another?
  • What assumptions are you making about it?
  • What seems the most important about it?
  • What seems to be least important about it?
  • What are the sub-problems?
  • What are your major objectives in solving it?
  • What else do you need to know?


  • Where is it most noticeable?
  • Where is it least noticeable?
  • Where else does it exist?
  • Where is the best place to begin looking for solutions?
  • Where does it fit into the larger scheme of things?

The concept is to use these Problem Solving Questions as a check list to clarify what the issue is. Some of the questions wont make sense but then others will highlight some aspect that you otherwise would not have considered - and which will lead to the solution.

Dont forget, the better you the describe a problem, the closer to the solution you are!

Download the questions for free.

Click here to download the Problem Solving Questions for free. It's in a Word File that you can use to jot down your own notes with.

Preliminary Problem Solving Questions