Any time you or your employees start to analyze a problem, challenge or issue you are facing, here is a sequence of questions you can use to break down or analyze the situation.
1. What’s happening here?
2. Why did this happen?
3. What should we do?
4. What will happen next?
Here is the question sequence and the relative thought patterns they reflect:
1. What’s happening here?- this question looks for clarity & direction. It’s a sorting question. It’s looking to develop the key to the map of current events. It’s a question that is setting and managing priorities. It’s reflective of your thinking pattern that is looking for order and process in situations.
2. Why did this happen?- This question reflects cause and effect thinking. You observe the effect of a problem and then you search for understanding it’s cause. This helps you move to steps that will correct the situation or reduce it’s effects.
3. What should we do?- A decision must be made. Your thinking pattern here is your search to evaluate the best course of action to maximize the achievement of a particular objective or goal.
4. What will happen next?- This pattern of thinking allows you to assess planned actions in the future. It also allows you to assess threats to successful outcomes as well as added opportunities for benefits. This is your internal pattern of SWOT thinking.
These questions help you develop step-by-step problem solving. They help you define what the situation is like now, and what is an appropriate action to take to achieve a desired outcome. Also, they help you to clarify and prioritize, evauate cause & effect and to determine what steps to take as well as what might happen in the future as a result of your actions.
Most people already use these thought patterns, but they are usually subconscious or in a random or disorganized fashion. This sequence of questions help you to organize your thought patterns to increase your problem solving adventures.