Poor Management of Projects - Problem Definition

 Problem Definition. Sometimes teams manage projects poorly because the project or problem has been poorly defined. Team members may be working on the wrong issue and may waste considerable time. At the outset of any team project, members should discuss the problem, attempting to distinguish between the problem itself and its symptoms or effects.

For example, a team was having a problem bending steel to the specified tolerances and spent considerable time attempting to refine their bending process. They had defined their problem as "Our process of bending steel does not produce the required tolerances." After considerable time was spent trying to refine their bending process, someone had suggested that maybe the steel they were receiving was an inferior grade. After researching this, they found that the purchasing department had switched to another supplier, and the steel being shipped was of very poor quality. Switching back to the original supplier made it easier to bend the steel correctly, solving the problem.

The point of this discussion is that, had the team properly defined the problem at the outset, they would not have spent as much time chasing a solution that failed to produce results. The problem definition should have been "Our team is not meeting its required steel bending tolerances." This statement would have given the team a greater range of possibilities when searching out causes of the problem, rather than just focusing on its bending process.

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