Problem Solving



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Welcome to Fhyzics, in this session we are going to discuss problem-solving, problem has to be seen as a package, problem is seen as a package here, it contains two components,
1) Root cause
2) Symptoms
The root cause and symptoms, this combination is called as a problem and as a business analyst we need to identify the root cause of the problem first rather than just going after the symptoms. In any given problem if we work towards the root cause we will the solve permanently but on the other hand, if we go after the symptoms then it may be a kind of firefighting situation. Because we may solve one symptom today and several other symptoms may crop up subsequently.

What should a business analyst do?
The first thing is rather than trying to solve a problem the business analyst needs to identify the root cause of the problem. The root cause is to be addressed. The solution is made for the root cause not for the symptoms.

What is the relationship between root cause and symptoms?
Symptoms are the external manifestations of the problem, symptoms tell us that there is a problem but symptom need not have to be solved when we address the root cause using the appropriate solution the symptom will disappear on its own there is no special precaution required or special measures required to address the symptoms. All our efforts should address the root cause by identifying the appropriate solution, for a given problem or given root cause there may be multiple solutions possible, now we have to go through the objectives, while applying the objectives for each of the solutions we have identified, we can identify the appropriate solution which needs the objective more closely. So just to summarize, the root cause and symptoms put together - it makes a problem. A problem is a combination of root cause and symptoms.

As a business analyst we need to identify the root cause and find the appropriate solution, finding the symptoms is very easy and they are externally visible, and they are the external manifestations of the problem but going after the symptom or trying to solve the symptom will be a futile exercise. The reason is, the root cause remains the same and if we try to solve a symptom, some other symptoms may come up, as a business analyst we need to be very clear on two things,
1) Identifying the root cause and
2) Trying to identify the solution which needs the objectives closer to solve the root cause.

Example: Consider the hospital scenario.
Doctor: What is your problem?
Patient: I am suffering from breathlessness and tiredness
[Doctor is a business analyst for the people, he elicits the requirements from the patient, he asks series of questions to the patient.]
Doctor: Where do you work?
Patient: I’m working in a machining factory.
Doctor: What do you manufacture?
Patient: Asbestos
[Doctor got a clear clue that his symptoms are somewhere related to asbestos]
Doctor: How long are you working in this factory?
Patient: For the past five years.

[After proper diagnostics, the doctor found that the patient is suffering from the disease, asbestosis. The breathlessness and tiredness are the symptoms of the asbestosis which the patient got because of the asbestos particles that gets into his lungs, it reduces the lungs capacity altogether. Now the doctor found the root cause i.e., asbestosis disease or even working in the factory. Since the doctor identified the root cause he advised the patient to stop working in the factory and take proper medication to reduce the effect of asbestosis but if the doctor jumped on the symptoms and tried to solve the symptom by giving some inhaler and steroids he would have made the patient’s condition still worse.]

The above example depicts the difference between the root cause and the symptoms. Typically, people call it as a problem combined together or sometimes we refer the symptoms or the root cause and call it as a problem. But we have to keep in mind that the problem is the combination of both root cause and the symptom. The root cause is deep inside the shell which is not visible but the symptoms are visible.
As a business analyst most often we hear symptoms, our job is to find out the root cause behind the symptoms and identify the appropriate solution.

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