5 Steps to Identify a Problem

5 Steps to Identify a Problem

Picture for 5 Steps to Identify a Problem

Image by Lincolnian (Brian) (retrieved on 01.10.2009)

Short description

This simple activity helps to define a problem (identify its roots, reasons) and propose a solution. It is particularly useful when working with groups.

Process description

The group should work for at least 2 hours, so they can complete all 5 steps.

Step 1:

Define the purpose clearly. What do I want to achieve? What will be the benefits? Is it possible to have multiple solutions?

Step 2:

Analyze the actual situation objectively. What are the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages?

Step 3:

State the problem. What hinders reaching the goal?

Step 4:

Identify the symptoms and root causes. What is the source of the problem and what are its symptoms?

Step 5:

Provide a solution.

Required resources

Big and small sheets of paper, markers (different colors), pens.


  • Goal: I want to be healthy.

  • Situation: I work 14 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. I exercise 3 hours a week. I eat healthy foods.

  • Problem: I get colds very often.

  • Root cause: Fatigue lowers the effectiveness of my immune system.

  • Symptoms: Headache and low productivity.


One may also use MindManager or FreeMind as an alternative for resources? -- Margit Scholl

PSI: https://psi.methopedia.eu/learning-activity/5-steps