Problem Identification LO5807

Winfried Deijmann (
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 01:57:41 +0200

Replying to LO5769 -- was Square Wheels

Dr. Scott J. Simmerman wrote:

>Some things change slowly, others not at all. For me, though, it
>isn't that people can't FIND the solution; it's that they can't SEE
>the problem. People seem to be much better problem solvers than

I don't completely agree with mr. Simmerman on this point. Bad
problem-identifiers make worse problemsolvers! Without a proper definition
of a problem, you cannot come to a true conclusion or gain correct
insight. And out of wrong conclusions you can only make wrong decisions.
Which brings me to the subject of defining a problem. I wonder how many
different definitions of problemidentification exist in businessland? I am
interested in a summary of all existing definitions of what a problem is.
So I invite (all?) listmembers to send their definition. As a kind of kick
off I'll define the one I use here.

"A problem is a tention between 'inside' and 'outside' which expresess
itselv as a feeling." (With 'feelings' I mean f.i. anxiety, discomfort,
stress, amazement, irritation, oppression etc.) IMHO there doesn't exist
something like 'a problem'. There only exist problemOWNERS. Only people
can have a problem with 'something'. F.i.: a non-working printer is in
itselv not a problem. It can remain non-working during several days or
weeks. It doesn't matter to me as long as I don't need the thing. It
starts being a problem to ME at the moment/instant that I have to print
something. And it starts to be an even bigger problem to me if I have to
print for one or an other reason RIGHTAWAY. The tentionexperience is
higher if the need for insight and solution is more urgent. Coclusion: To
let something be a problem it needs :

a relation to at least one person = person-related
the element of time to play a role = time-related
an object or situation = object/situation-related

In my work I use a problemsolving concept which is called Dynamic
Judgement Building It is based on a thesis from. dr. A.H. Bos (NPI -

Alex Bos developed a model in an ideal-typical way, that reflects
assessment in groups. The model is characterized by polarity and rythm.
The most striking polarity is that between cognition and choice. Cognition
deals with insight; man wants to understand the world. Choice deals with
decisions; man wants to change the world.

_Cognition_ begins with a feeling of amazement or irritation, _choice_
with a feeling of oppression or enthousiasm. _Insight_ comes as a result
of clarifying facts through thinking about them. Decisions are connected
with the goals that one wants to reach by certain routes. Between facts
and thoughts on the one side, and goals and routes on the other, there
seems to be the same polar relation as between cognition and choice.
Assessment can be described as a process of rythm which is enacted between
the poles. Thus the model is in strong contrast with nearly all models of
problem-solving and decision-making known in literature. These are built
on the logic of thought and not on empirical data. This model offers
possibility for extensiv conversation- and problemtypology. Practical
experience with this model shows great impact on group dynamics, the
process of learning, co-operative bonds and development of organization.

Now I sure hope I didn't dropp a virtual bomb on this list.....

Winfried M. Deijmann
Deijmann & Partners
tel.: +31 (0)575-522076
Human Resources and Communications Consultancy fax.: +31 (0)575-527310
Het Zwanevlot 37
NL 7206 CB Zutphen
Netherlands Email:

"An educated mind is useless without a focussed will and dangerous without
a loving heart" (unknown source)

-- (Winfried Deijmann)

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