Reality Seek Problems Not Solutions

Instead of asking users to describe requirements and solutions, ask them to describe their problems. If this is a new system, find out why it is being created — what is being done today and how will it change with the system? If this is a rewrite of an existing system, ask what is wrong with the old one. What problems will be solved?

This is a radically different approach than asking for requirements. A commonly told illustration of this involves the building manager whose tenants complained about slow elevators. After rejecting a series of costly elevator upgrade or replacement scenarios, the manager hired a problem-solving expert.

This expert interrogated the manager. What was wrong with the elevators? The tenants, he said, were complaining about waiting for them. Why did that matter, the expert asked? Because if they are unhappy they may move out, the manager responded, and I may lose my job. The expert promised a solution.

The next day, mirrors were installed outside the elevators on all floors. The tenant complaints subsided. The expert explained: the tenants were complaining about waiting, not about the elevators. The solution was to make the wait more pleasant, and mirrors offer the most popular pastime of all: admiring ourselves. This solution, of course, cost a tiny fraction of the time and money to speed up the elevators.

The point is, if one focuses on the real problem, one will arrive at the best solution. If starting with a solution, the wrong problem may be solved.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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