Are you solving the right problem?

Ben "The Hosk" Hosking
Star Gazers
Published in
3 min readMar 20, 2021


“All life is problem solving.” — Karl Popper

The problem with problems is there is never just one of them. Many solutions create different problems and ignore the underlying problem.

We are confronted with problems regularly but few people are effective at solving problems but what’s the reason.

What is the real problem

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Albert Einstein

Before coming up with a solution, understand the problem. Solving problems needs you to listen first and then ask questions. Don’t jump to conclusions , understand the different perspectives.

Identify and understand the problem, many times todays solutions are tomorrow problems. If you don’t understand the cause of the problem, you won’t solve it.

Problems are tricky, they hide behind other problems, individuals point to different causes and everyone thinks something different. Problems create conflict, tension and emotions, all of which limit the ability to think clearly.

Before thinking about the solution, understand the problem and define the problem. To do this, listen and ask the right questions.

You cannot solve the problem until you know what it is, the wrong solution to the wrong problem is the wrong solution.

Define the problem

Write a problem statement, so everyone understands what the problem is.

Questions help identify the problem, like

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Why is this a problem? What are the implications? Who is effected?
  3. What assumptions are we making?

The five why whys is a useful tool to get down to the real problem

Reframe the problem

  • what are the elements of a successful solution, what must it do?
  • What has been tried already?

Understand what previous solutions or approaches have tried and why they weren’t successful. learn from the mistakes of the past…

Ben "The Hosk" Hosking
Star Gazers

Technology philosopher | Software dev → Solution architect | Avid reader | Life long learner