Part 1: The Importance Of Understanding Problems


Let us begin with a basic definition of a Problem:

“A problem is an obstacle, impediment, difficulty or challenge, or any situation that invites resolution; the resolution of which is recognized as a solution or contribution toward a known purpose or goal. Individual awareness of a problem constitutes awareness of a desired outcome, coupled with an apparent deficiency, discrepancy, doubt or inconsistency that either obscures or prevents the outcome from taking place.”

From Wikipedia, 30 March 2011

If you’ve never considered the question “What is a Problem?”, then it’s not surprising – the topic called “Problematology” in Philosophy is really quite hard (dull?) for the average person to get their head around.

Hopefully, this guide to Problems will be a little less complicated and help you to gain a better understanding of Problems and how to deal with them!

Why Is It Important To Understand Problems?

Consider the following example:

Trepanning: skull with hole

Migraine sufferers throughout history have been prescribed a variety of treatment. In ancient times, “trepanning” – in which a hole is drilled into the skull – was thought to help release the demons and so would relieve the patient. In medieval times perhaps a course of leeches would be recommended.

These days, doctors and pharmacists tend to prescribe powerful drugs to knock you out for the rest of the evening while you lie down and try to balance an icepack on your head.

Do any of these treatments actually work?

From personal experience, I’ve only tried the powerful drugs and darkened room approach and can’t vouch for the leeches or trepanning but, from what I know, I’d have to say “No… not really”.

As it can be seen, these solutions are equally valid in the time and context in which they are presented. A wide range of solutions doesn’t necessarily mean that the cause of the problem has been treated effectively.

If, like me, you’ve been fortunate enough to have successfully resolved your migraine problems then you’d already know that the major cause of migraines is simply Stress. And recent medical studies have shown that reducing stress also helps improve a person’s physical and mental well-being.

What’s important about this example is that it illustrates the major difference between proposed solutions and discovering what the problem actually is in order to apply the most appropriate solution.

Are You Asking The Right Question?

Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - Deep Thought

Click to view image & caption

It’s a bit like asking a giant super-computer for the simple solution to the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything, only to be given an answer that makes no sense because the question you asked wasn’t the right one in the first place.

And a similar type of thing happens with any search engine – if you don’t know what to ask it, then you’re not really going to get good results back.

Are you still with me, so far? Good.

So why is it that we spend a lot of time trying to find solutions instead of trying to understand what the problem actually is? Wouldn’t it be more logical to understand what we’re dealing with in order to reach the most appropriate solution?

The question that we should consider is:

“What specifically is the problem?”

If you’re not asking the right questions, then the path you’ll end up following may not necessarily be where you want to be going.

However, if you had a more precise understanding of what you’re dealing with, how different would the solution you’re looking for be?

The Importance Of Understanding Problems Summary

As we’ve seen, there’s a variety of solutions to any problems. What’s important about understanding problems is that it allows you to find the most appropriate solution. What works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else. We’ll be exploring how personal problems are unique later.

For the moment, just conder the following questions:

  • What would happen if you actually knew what your Problem was?
  • How much clearer would a solution be, if you knew what you were dealing with?
  • What is the most appropriate solution for your Problem?

In the next few sections, we’re going to start looking at a Model of Problems – what they are and how they work.

The Anatomy Of A Problem Index:

2 Responses to Part 1: The Importance Of Understanding Problems



  2. Sameer gidvani says:

    I read the 3 steps to mental clarity and i did the same as suggested in it. I cleared my room from unnecessary books and pages.It really helped me.


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