How to recognize problems

Key massage: Only when a problem is recognized it can be solved.


Why is a "sense of possibility" necessary to recognize problems?

"A sense of possibility ... imagines something that might be possible but has not been considered possible or even potentially possible so far. (... sense of
possibility is often used synonymously with imagination even though imagination is not the same as sense of possibility, for imagination also encapsulates the impossible)." (Dörner, D., & Funke, J. (2017). Complex problem solving: What it is and what it is not. Frontiers in Psychology, 8,1153, page 7)


Today's world is becoming more and more complex, there is a multitude of new insights and a greater understanding of how different developments affect each other. This great complexity requires systematic thinking in order to identify new opportunities and threats as problems.


"Problems in the sense of the SE [Systems Engineering] mainly express themselves in a discomfort, a more or less well-founded criticism of an unsatisfactory situation, in the representation of a possible opportunity or an impending danger and the related questions. ... The problem can be formulated in a relatively concrete manner, or it may merely consist of vague assumptions about problems and their causes." (Daenzer, W. F. (1976) Systems Engineering: Leitfaden zur methodischen Durchführung umfangreicher Planungsvorhaben. Peter Hanstein Verlag, Köln, p. 41, my translation)


If a situation is unsatisfactory, then that is a clue to look for what problem is causing that dissatisfaction. But even if a situation is satisfactory, it can possibly be improved or it can change negatively. It is necessary to imagine the future and think of possible opportunities or threats. Then it can be decided whether one of these possibilities can occur.



Once we have recognized a problem, then we can start to analyze it and understand it.


Continue with the next step of the problem-solving process, which is about understanding a problem: How to analyze situations = systems