One of the standard problem definition techniques I use is the classic “5 why” process pioneered by Toyota. Just keep on asking “why” to peel back the layers pf the onion to get to the real problem, rather than just being satisfied that addressing the associated and superficial symptoms is enough.
You rarely get past 5 before the guts are on the table, I certainly never have.
It can be a tough and extended process, but it works.
It also works when you are on the receiving end of a sales pitch.
Late last year I sat with a client through a series of pitches by advertising agencies, all heavy on rhetoric and marketing cliché, but mostly a bit light on strategic and creative grunt.
‘Why do you think this idea will deliver the strategy’?
‘Why is it a great idea as you claim’?
‘Why do you recommend this media mix’?
‘Why do you believe these metrics are useful’?
All pretty valid questions I thought.
As one group of hopefuls left, one asked another not realising I had followed them out to offer a final handshake “Why was he bloody there?”
Had they been able to answer any of the questions satisfactorily, they may have got the gig, but as it stands I suspect they have no idea why they missed out.
I rest my case. .