Problem Analysis

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Find root cause


Why did this problem happen?

The Process

Problem Analysis helps leaders skillfully use data to find root cause to significant, persistent problems.

Used For

  • Student achievement incongruities
  • School climate discrepancies—disciplinary referrals, suspension rates, absenteeism, etc.
  • Using facts to diffuse emotions on controversial problems—involving special population groups, safety, health, school violence, etc.
  • Avoiding ineffective action against high-profile problems

About Problem Analysis

Lasting solutions to big or persistent problems require knowing what’s causing those problems. To find true cause, we must use data effectively and draw accurate, meaningful conclusions.

Problem Analysis provides a framework which not only clarifies what information is needed but organizes it so we can make sense of it. We avoid ineffective action by ruling out improbable causes and zeroing in on the root of the problem.

Problem Analysis allows us to be more intentional, systematic, cost-effective and ultimately successful in our problem-solving efforts.

Key Steps

1. State the Problem

We need to be sure that we are focused on the same problem – and it is the right one to be working on – this is not always clear-cut when problems abound.

2. Organize Relevant Information

This step not only helps us separate relevant from irrelevant data – it helps us organize data in a framework so we can make sense of it.

3. Look for Possible Causes

Often there are many possible causes. Some jump right out at us – others require us to think creatively, investigate, talk with experts and use the data we have gathered.

4. Vet Possible Causes

We use data to rigorously test the viability of possible causes. This helps avoid arguing or wasting time and resources on theories that don’t explain all the facts.

5. Ensure We’ve Found True Cause

Before implementing changes that cost time and resources, we make sure we have identified true cause.