Problem solving | What is a Problem and types of problems ?

Problem solving

First what constitute a problem that require problem solving ?

A problem is simply a condition or situation that is different from what is expected . As long as this desired results needs to be met , it is considered a problem . Some problems may not have solutions today . For example , going to the moon . We have the technical capability to go to the moon today so this is not a problem . But let’s say we want to go to the moon in 10 minutes . This become a real challenge then because we may not have the technology to do this today , certainly not now . So this remains an open problem !

 ” Nothing in life is to be feared . It is only to be understood ” …. Marie Curie

Problem Solving | Types of problems

In general  , in problem solving , we can classify any problems into   3 types ,  small , medium and large problems . Typically small problems have the following characteristics

Characteristics of a small problem

  • It affects only myself or an individual
  • It pose an inconvenience but the individual has learned to live with it
  • It is not serious nor detrimental , but we would love to have it fixed
  • A small amount of time or resource is required to have the problem fixed

Examples of small problems are

  • I keep losing my pen
  • I keep losing my hand-phone , etc

Characteristics of a medium size problem

  • It affects a group of individuals or  a community
  • If the problem is not addressed , it may grow with time
  • with the “growth” of the problem , it would become more serious
  • It may cause other problems if left unaddressed .
  • It will take time and resources to identify and define the problem

Examples of medium size problems are

  • The department photo-stating machine keeps breaking down
  • The production equipment is generating too many rejects , etc

Characteristics of a large problem

  • It affects a large group of people  , a community , a business or a country
  • It is normally multi-dimensional with multiple assignable causes .
  • It is normally more complex and complicated
  • It requires some substantial amount of time , effort and resources to identify and resolve it

Examples of large problems are

  • low birth rate of a country
  • high cost of living , etc
  • traffic congestion on expressways

Problem solving | Multi-dimensional problems

In problem solving , some people may classify problems into other classifications such  as Business , Engineering , Design , Operational and so forth . However , it is however best to classify them as small , medium or large sized problems  , because the more difficult problems such as the large problems are often multi-dimensional in nature . In problem solving ,  to solve such multi-dimensional problems would require the breaking down of the problems into smaller dimensions or bite sizes in order to resolve them .


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