Blog entry by Orji Anyianuka
Abraham Maslow is quoted to have said that “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail“
One of the first things to do when faced with a decision is defining the problem. This looks like a very easy thing to do, but people often get this step wrong and then veer off in the wrong direction with everything other steps afterwards. The systematic decision follows a process that can be ordered linearly - understanding the situation, defining the problem, clarifying the objectives, identifying alternatives, determining criteria and measuring alternatives against the criteria, making a decision and then developing an action plan. So if you get your problem definition wrong, you will definitely choose the wrong alternatives and use the wrong criteria in evaluating the alternatives.
For example, if your company has just transferred you to a new location, your decision problem might seem obvious: go to the new location and find an apartment to rent. But on further thought, what about staying in the company’s guest house for a while to know if you’d like the new location; would it be a better investment to buy a house there (if you can afford it)?; should you ask the company to reconsider the transfer?; should you consider looking for a new job? The alternatives you look for will be impacted by how you frame the problem - which apartment to rent, or which house to buy, or which job to apply for.
It’s always helpful to frame the problem from a different perspective drawing from your objectives to avoid ending up with a wrong problem definition that will eventually lead you to the wrong decision