5W's and an H
It is a commonly held view that ‘90% of the problem is defining what the problem is’. In actual fact, every time the statement or a derivative of it appears, the importance of problem definition seems to tend ever higher as a proportion of the total problem.

As an aid to assist in our attempts to think about problem definition hierarchy, it is useful to introduce here a modified version of the Why-What’s Stopping analysis tool first developed by Basadur .Countless situations point to the fact that the initial problem definition turns out to be anything but the ‘right’ one.

5 W and an H
W1. Who has the problem? This clearly identifies the person connected with the problem. He could be one who is using the final product or anyone in the line-up of concept-to-market or a person at any of the product Life-stages from design through manufacture, transport, use, repair and disposal.

W2. What does the problem seem to be? This is the type of question we ask in order to narrow the problem and focus in on key issues – as seen in the ‘why-what’s-stopping’ analysis.Try to specify conflict/contradictions -- as a technical contradiction or as a physical contradiction

W3. When does the problem occur? Clearly identifying the time related aspects of the problem. When does the conflict occur? Is the key question here. In line with ARIZ thinking, if we can identify a time of the conflict, the time just before and the time just after, we have a strong basis for identifying physical contradictions which may be amenable to separation in time.

W4. Where does the problem occur? Again the key is relating to the ARIZ concept of ‘zones of conflict’. Determine what is the zone of conflict looking at the super-system, system and sub-system. The aim again is to keep in mind the TRIZ physical contradiction solution strategies – and in particular to be looking for places/spaces where the problem does and doesn’t occur.

W5. Why does the problem occur? What is root cause? In the ‘why-what’s stopping?’ parallel, the ‘why?’ question is all about broadening the problem and specifically heading back towards root causes. The process is often helped by thinking about the ‘function’ that creates/leads to the problem and the presence and interactions between substances and fields present - is “tool”, “object” or “field” causing the problem? And

H1. How does the problem occur? How can the problem be solved? The how question is present to encourage us to think about the underlying causes and effects of the problem. How does the conflict arise?

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