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Problem Statements that Persuade

Problem Statements that Persuade

Author: Soma Jurgensen
  1. Identify the elements that make a strong problem statement
  2. Include those elements in a persuasive manner

Before an audience will approach you about a solution in an internal/unsolicited proposal, they need to discover the problem with you. This tutorial will guide you through the necessary steps to lead your audience to your eventual solution.

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Writing a Problem Free Problem Statement

Having a problem with your problem statement? You are not alone. This section is the analytical part of your assignment and business students in particular love to jump to the solutions. When you write a proposal, however, you are trying to convince the person that they not only need a change, but why they should change and how they should implement the change.

The purpose statement answers the question "what should I do" for the reader.

The problem statement answers the questions "why should I do it?"

Let's use a broken radiator in my home as an example. I want to convince a maintenance person to come out an fix it on a snowy Sunday in MN. I have to prove I really have a problem. I might identify and support the symptoms as follows:

A) It's cold in here and the radiator is supposed to keep the house warm (symptom)

It's normally 69 degrees but no matter how high I turn the radiator the house isn't warmer than 58 degrees (evidence and "research" where I give actual numbers)

B) It's leaking

There is steam coming out (I can observe and measure this)
There is water puddeling on the floor (I can observe and measure this)

C) It's making weird sounds

The noise is loud and frequent (still needs evidence)
It's so loud that it drowns out the T.V. in the next room (comparison - context - observable)

I think I can convince the maintenance person to come out in the cold because there is an observable, measurable, problem with support and research vs. my own opinion.

When you present the problem (not taking advantage of an opportunity) make sure to back it up with evidence (customer service is down 10% from goal) and even ideas about what experts say when these symptoms exist.


What is a Problem Statement

The key to persuasion is allow your audience to discover the problem with you as you lead them toward the solution.

This is not an original video by me, but you have to love the accent!

Leading Change with Inductive Reasoning

Allow your audience to discover where you lead them. Use inductive reasoning effectively.