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A problem statement is a short, succinct explanation of a problem a business is facing and a proposed solution to the problem. Problem statements can be effective ways to define an issue and communicate a solution within a short span of time. Before you write your problem statement, think about the problem and your proposed solution, and be prepared to back it up with facts! Describe the “ideal” state of affairs. If you’re ever unsure of how to begin, opt for the latter option.
In the words of the inventor Charles Kettering, “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved. Soon after you state your problem, you’ll want to explain why it’s a big deal — after all, no one has the time or resources to try to solve every single minor problem. In the business world, money is almost always the bottom line, so you’ll want to try to highlight the financial impact of your problem on the company or organization you’re writing for. No matter how much money you claim your problem is costing your company, if you can’t back up your claims with reasonable evidence, you may not be taken seriously.
As soon as you start making specific claims about how serious your problem is, you’ll need to start supporting your statements with evidence. Let’s reexamine the sentences we used in the previous step. They describe the cost of the problem, but don’t explain how this cost was found. A more thorough explanation might include this: “Based on internal performance tracking data, on average, the current boarding system wastes roughly four minutes per boarding session, resulting in a total of 20 wasted man-hours per day across all ABC flights. When you’ve explained what the problem is and why it’s so important, proceed to explain how you propose to deal with it.