Problem definition

This tool will help you open up a problem, presenting it in a way that can examined from a number of angles.

How can it help me?

It’s important to clearly define your problem to help focus your efforts on solving it.

This worksheet will help you to explore your problem by ‘opening it up’, enabling you to approach it in different ways and identify its wider context and associated issues. You may find that your problem is actually a symptom of a deeper issue.

This worksheet has been designed make efficient use of your time by structuring the analysis of a problem. Answering the questions also gives you a standardised way to compare different problems you are experiencing so you can identify similarities or areas of crossover.

How do I use it?

  • Answer the questions on the worksheet individually or in small teams to explore different views of the same problem.
  • Compare and discuss with your colleagues to see whether you are making the same assumptions and how you are framing the problem. This discussion may lead you to approach the problem in a different way, ‘reframing’ it.


  • Involving different stakeholders in this exercise will bring different points of view and contexts for the problem. For example, a service user may have a different point of view to a manager.